How to update Zorin OS

Zorin OS is aimed at providing a great experience for both beginners and experienced Linux users. For beginners and people who just want a system that works and that does not get in the way of their daily processes, Zorin OS offers lots of functionalities that make your digital life easier and provide a great and smooth experience. But as with any operating system, to keep this great experience it is a must to regularly run available updates to keep the system reliable and stable, to follow technological developments, to optimize the system components, to refresh available software packages and to remain secure for various forms of cyber crime. In this part of the Zorin OS tutorial series I will explain how to update Zorin OS.

Article details:

Distro version: Zorin OS 16 Core

Tutorial series: Zorin OS Tutorial Series

Note: This tutorial series is still in progress, so not all chapters are finished yet.

Be in control of your system

As a fan of everything that has to do with software and computer technology, I follow all that happens in this technology-driven world on a daily basis. My primary interest is of course with Linux and Open Source, but I always keep an eye on what happens with other platforms such as macOS and Windows. What strikes me is the large number of complaints from users regarding the way in which the Windows platform forces its users to accept updates. And these updates appear at the most unexpected moments. I personally had to deal with this issue numerous times at the office. For example, during a presentation that I was giving for a large group of colleagues and managers, I suddenly received an update message from Windows that could not be suppressed. So this happened at a very inconvenient moment and seriously disrupted my presentation. At such a moment you get the feeling that you are not in control, but that you have to bend to the wishes and requirements of your operating system. And in my opinion it is not the operating system that should be in charge of you, but that you as a user should always be in control of how your computer and software works and in what way and at what time. And the developers of Linux in general and Zorin OS in particular have listened carefully to this universal wish. With Linux you are in control and you decide when you think something should happen. And of course the system helps you to think about those decisions, but does not force you to do things. So let’s see how the Software Updater works and how we can implement updates in Zorin OS.

How to use the Software Updater

As mentioned, all operating systems need regular updates to stay safe, stable and stay in sync with technological advances. In Zorin OS there are different ways to update your system, but as a beginner you should use the simple update system called Software Updater. You as the owner of your system are completely in control with respect to the moment you want to update your system, what you want to update and what not. And the Software Updater informs you when updates are available and gives you all the required information and options to determine yourself what you want to update and not. And most updates are done very quickly, and you even can continue your work without noticeable disruptions. Oh, and before I forget, these updates not only relate to the operating system itself, but also to some of the installed applications.

As already said, Software Updater is constantly aware of new updates, and if there are updates of system components or applications available, Zorin OS will give a notification for that. But let’s take things in our own hands and do the updates ourselves at the moment that is most convenient for us.

1) Click on the Zorin OS menu icon and type “software” in the search area.

2) Click on Software Updater.

Now Software Updater will check for available updates.

When the check for available updates is finished and there are available updates, the following pop up will be shown.

Here you see the total size of available updates, have some options you can choose from, and you can look at the details of the available updates. With the Settings option you can change some preferences with respect to updates, which will be covered more in depth later in this article. With Remind Me Later you can postpone the update for your system and decide on a later moment if you want to update. And with Install Now you choose to start the update process right away.

But let’s first have a look at the details of the updates. So click on Details of updates.

Here you see two sections, the first showing all system components, applications, etc. for which updates are available, and the second showing the options to see the description of these components or the change information. In the details section you see that initially all available updates are selected, but by clicking on the blue check symbol in front of the name of a component, you can decide yourself what you want to update and what not. Further you see that the first part of the list contains all security updates and the second part all other updates.

3) Click on Install Now to process all available updates.

4) Click on Details if you want to see what happens behind the scenes.

It depends on the updates you are installing if you need to restart your system or not. But more often than not you can just continue with what you are doing without the need for a restart, or you can postpone the restart to a later moment.

How to setup the Zorin OS Software Updater

The above explanations and actions were based on standard settings of Zorin OS, but as already mentioned above, you also have the option to change some settings with respect to updating your system and software.

When the check for available updates is finished and there are available updates, the following pop up will be shown.

1) Here click on Settings.

Here you see different tabs for Zorin Software, Other Software, Updates, Authentication and Additional Drivers.

In the Zorin Software tab you can select what is downloadable from the internet and where you want to download from. It is wise to find a server as close to you as possible so the download speed is the highest. When you select Other, you can make Zorin OS search for the best server, which is also probably a server that is relatively close to you.

In the Other Software tab you see the additional sources that are selected and can be selected. here you can also add sources or repositories yourself.

In the Updates tab you can set some preferences with respect to the type of updates you want to subscribe to, the frequency of checking for updates, what to do when there are security updates available, and what to do when there are other updates available.

In the Authentication tab you see the keys that are used to authenticate to the correct sources of software.

And finally in the Additional Drivers tab you see, if available for your specific hardware, drivers that can be installed on your system.

Update Zorin OS via the command line

This tutorial series mainly focuses on using the graphical user interface as it is most convenient for beginners or users that prefer using a graphical way of using their computer. But if you are interested in how to use the command line as well, here is how to do that.

1) Open the Terminal with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + T.

2) Now type the following to update the sources list and give your password:

sudo apt-get update

Some explanation on this command. sudo means “switch user do”. Without specifically providing a user in this command you actually say “switch to root user and do something”. So you switch to root and say “do apt-get update”. Now, apt stands for Advanced Package Tool, which is a system to manage packages. You need this package manager to get the available updated packages from the sources as mentioned earlier in this tutorial. So with sudo apt-get update you ask the root user to get a list of updated software packages. In the next step we are actually going to install these packages.

3) Type the following to update your system and applications based on the available updates as found in the previous step:

sudo apt-get upgrade

Some explanation on this command. As already mentioned, sudo means “switch user do”. Without specifically providing a user in this command you actually say “switch to root user and do something”. So you switch to root and say “do apt-get upgrade”. In the previous step we got al list of updated packages. In this step we say to to the root to upgrade or install your packages based on the available updates.

Now you also can reboot your system via the command line if you want.

4) Type the following:

sudo reboot

That is all.

Final words

For the scope of this tutorial series there is not much more to say on the topic of updates. Zorin OS offers the flexibility to manage your updates both from the command line or via the graphical user interface. You have the option to process all available updates or select only those you want. You can choose if you want to restart your system directly or postpone. You can choose which sources you want to use for your updates, which server at which location. As you see, Zorin OS offers many options and flexibility. The choices on how and when to update Zorin OS are in your hands.