Raspberry Pi Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users and developers of hardware and software for Raspberry Pi. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the difference between rpi-update (firmware) and apt-get update and apt-get upgrade?


share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

rpi-update updates the firmware for the Raspberry Pi. It does not change any packages.

apt-get update updates the package listings for the Debian operating system, but does not upgrade the packages themselves.

apt-get upgrade upgrades any packages that have new versions. You usually run this after you run apt-get update.

Note: for these commands to do anything, you have to prefix them with sudo to get administrative privileges, else they won't work.

share|improve this answer
@Christain If you're confused by the expression firmware, it refers to the files and drivers that interact with the Raspberry Pi hardware, such as the Broadcom chip. These are not kept in the normal apt repositories, and so have to be upgraded separately. – Jivings Feb 14 '13 at 23:18
And by that, firmware files are situated on the SD card and does not alter any code within the SOC's? – Christian Feb 15 '13 at 20:27
@Christian correct. they help the software interface with the Pi. they don't change any code inside the SOCs. – nc4pk Feb 15 '13 at 21:33

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.