How to Easily Upgrade Ubuntu to a New Beta Release

Upgrading to the latest beta (development) release of Ubuntu is easier than you might think. By default, Ubuntu won’t tell you when there is a new development version available. You can, however, check for one and upgrade to it with just a few quick commands at the terminal.

A Word of Warning Before We Begin

Development versions of Ubuntu are likely to be unstable and contain bugs. A development release is an unfinished product that may behave in unpredictable ways. You should not install any type of pre-release version of Ubuntu on any system that serves a mission-critical purpose.

It is highly recommended that you back up all of your data and create a bootable USB containing your current Ubuntu version before attempting any of the steps that follow. If you should suffer a catastrophic failure you will be able to reinstall a working copy of Ubuntu and restore your data from the backup.

You should also be aware that once you upgrade your system to a development version, it can not be undone. There is no way to downgrade or roll back the update. If you decide later that you want to return to the previous version of Ubuntu, you will have to reinstall it.

With that said, the entire upgrade process will take place at the command line. So, go ahead and open a terminal window, and let’s get started.


Prepare Your System to Upgrade to a Beta Ubuntu Release

Before attempting to upgrade, you should make sure that your current Ubuntu installation is completely up to date. You can check for and install any updates by entering the following two commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Allow any available updates to complete and then reboot your computer. If APT reports that no updates are available, you can move on to the next step.

Upgrading to the Latest Ubuntu Beta Version

With your current system fully updated, you can now upgrade to the latest Ubuntu beta version. To begin, enter the following at your command prompt:

sudo do-release-upgrade

Different outcomes are possible here depending on what version of Ubuntu you currently have installed. The upgrade process may begin immediately, in which case you simply have to wait for the process to complete and reboot your system.

You may also see the message shown below, telling you that a configuration file needs to be changed. If your system does not upgrade but you don’t see this message, read on and proceed to the next step.

Don’t let this intimidate you. Changing the configuration is actually very easy. You’re going to use the nano text editor to make the change. To edit the file, you must have root privileges, so make sure you don’t leave sudo off the following command:

sudo nano /etc/update-manager/release-upgrades

When nano opens, look for the line at the bottom of the file that starts with Prompt. You simply want to change this line from Prompt=lts to Prompt=normal. Use the arrow keys to move your cursor to the end of the line, hit Backspace to erase lts, and then type in normal.

To save the newly edited file, press Ctrl + X, then answer Yes when asked if you want to save changes. Finally, just hit Enter to confirm the name of the file to save. nano will close and leave you back at the command prompt where you started.

Now, to start the upgrade, enter the following:

sudo do-release-upgrade -d

Your system should now find the latest available development release and display a message similar to what you see above. Read over the information and answer yes to the continuation prompt to begin the upgrade.

Believe it or not, that’s all there is to it. You will see information similar to what is pictured above as the upgrade process begins. All you have to do now is wait for the upgrade to finish and reboot your computer. Depending on the speed of your computer and the version of Ubuntu you are dealing with, it could take a few hours for the entire process to complete.

You Are Now Running the Latest Beta Version of Ubuntu

When your computer reboots, you will be running the absolute newest beta version of Ubuntu. Remember, you will almost certainly run into bugs along the way, but you should also receive regular updates to correct them as they are found.

Enjoy your new system. You will now be among the very first people in the world to witness upcoming developments from Ubuntu!

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