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Daniel Nashed

Automatically Updating Ubuntu Linux including mail notification

Daniel Nashed – 7 January 2024 14:57:56

This was on my list for a while. I looked into it, but the mail part wasn't what I wanted.
Most admins will just install BSD mailx. But this had way too much dependencies for me.

I just wrote a simple tool to replace mailx ->
But you could just continue to use the standard package.
It wasn't just an option for me, because I try to not install other mail server components on a Domino server (like sendmail).

The setup for automatic updates are pretty easy and base on scripting.

The packages which need to be installed are

apt install unattended-upgrades apt-listchanges

Once installed you can look into the configuration to see, which type of packages you want to install etc.
In my case I am staying with the standard package configuration.
You could also setup to report the machine once a reboot is needed.
I decided to keep that step manual and instead get e-mail notifications what got installed and if a reboot is needed.

In general the configuration is made in the following file


To enable mail notification, you have to specify the recipient and in which case you want to receive a message in the configuration file.
Just for errors or whenever a package is updated.

Unattended-Upgrade::Mail "";
Unattended-Upgrade::MailReport "on-change";
Unattended-Upgrade::Sender "";

Once you are done, configue unattended-updates

dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades

Test the configuration

A basic test without sending an e-mail would be invoked by the following command

unattended-upgrades --dry-run -v

Test including sending a mail

The dry run does not send a mail. The easiest way to test the mail functionality, just configure to always send a mail when unattended-updates runs.

Temporary change the following option:

Unattended-Upgrade::MailReport "always";

And run the update manually:

unattended-upgrades -v

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