what will happen if I put my update and upgrade command on /etc/rc.local??

after reading some forums and all I understand that we can use crontab and so on. But what will happen if I do it in this way.


  • 1
    Try it and see. You don't need sudo in rc.local, when run at boot it is executed with root privileges.
    – goldilocks
    Mar 16, 2021 at 13:42
  • Don't do that. Use apt automated updates. wiki.debian.org/UnattendedUpgrades
    – Dougie
    Mar 16, 2021 at 17:40

3 Answers 3


rc.local gives you no guarantees that the network is available, so your command will likely fail without doing what you expect it to do.

There is a proper way to get unattended upgrades working, which is configured in /etc/apt and activated by

sudo dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low unattended-upgrades

Note that automatic updates work best when you also have automatic backups in place.


My answer is offered in the spirit of KISS, and is this:

Don't try to automate your updates & upgrades - not in rc.local, not in cron, and not even in systemd. Why? As the bumper sticker says, "Shit Happens".

Also - there are times when a reboot is required to load a new kernel - not doing so can cause strange and errant behavior with some apps. Unfortunately, the system will not tell you when a kernel update was made, and so you either guess when it's needed, or you reboot after each update && upgrade. Some of the Debian distros have a reboot-required flag, but last I checked the Raspbian crowd hasn't ported this.

Automating update && upgrade is inviting trouble - trouble that may take much more time and effort to unwind than 100 manual update && upgrade.

If you want a notification or reminder to update && upgrade at a certain date & time, this can be arranged in numerous ways. If you want an event-based reminder, consider setting up apt-listchanges to send you a daily email (or redirect it to your /etc/motd).


Do NOT put ANYTHING in rc.local - especially anything which is dependent on networking.

Automatic update is a bad idea as it sometimes prompts for user input.

If you REALLY need this for some remote application (I still think it is a bad idea) install unattended-upgrades.

  • AFAIK apt-get is smart enough not to ask anything when there's no input terminal. Granted, you'd still need to specify -y, otherwise it will likely just abort on the first question instead of assuming the answer is "Yes". Mar 17, 2021 at 9:35

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