I'm running elementary OS freya and have a very stable system, just the way I like it. Today I did an apt-get update and apt-get upgrade and the following message appeared:

  The following packages have been kept back:
  libpantheon-files-core0 libpantheon-files-widgets0 libscratchcore0
  midori-granite pantheon-files scratch-text-editor
  switchboard-plug-notifications switchboard-plug-pantheon-shell
  0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 8 not upgraded.

I am aware that I can use apt-get dist-upgrade, however I have heard that this command should be used with caution as it can create an unstable system if there are conflicting dependencies/files removed or changed etc.

My question is, is it safe to leave files 'kept back'? Will the files ever get upgraded using apt-get update ; apt-get upgrade, or will they always require apt-get dist-upgrade? My main concern is I do not know what all of these held back packages are, what they do, what dependencies or other files they may effect if upgraded. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  • I decided to backup all my files and go ahead with a apt-get dist-upgrade. All files that were held back were upgraded, one older file was autoremoved, and I then rebooted the system. Everything works great. Still wouldn't mind some insight into choosing whether or not to do a dist-upgrade or how one can find information on such packages held back to insure that doing so will not break their current system.
    – vim_usr
    Sep 3, 2015 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


Usually packages are held back because they require the installation of new packages or conflict and remove old packages. Typically you should just use the software updater app and it'll do the right thing.

If you insist on upgrading through Terminal, you should make note of what packages will be added or removed. You can always search the internet to find out what those packages are and if they are important. As long as you steer clear of the -y flag, you will be prompted before apt attempts to add or remove new packages.

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