How to upgrade single package with their dependencies on Debian and Ubuntu Linux

Friday, 16th March 2012

Reading Time: 2minutes

Debian GNU / Linux apt-get upgrade a package selection of a whole bunch of packages ready to upgrade apt artistic logo

Are you a Debian System Administrator and you recently run apt-get upgrade && apt-get upgrade finding out there are plenty of new packagesfor upgrade? Do you need only a pre-selected number of packages to upgrade with apt?
I run apt-get update && apt-get upgrade on one of our company Debian servers, just to see there are a number of packages to be upgraded among which there was some I didn't wanted to upgrade. Here is a little paste output from apt-get upgrade:

debian:~# apt-get update && apt-get upgrade
Hit http://security.debian.org squeeze/updates Release.gpg
...
Hit http://security.debian.org squeeze/updates/main amd64 Packages
Fetched 128 kB in 0s (441 kB/s)
Reading package lists... Done
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following packages will be upgraded:
at imagemagick libdbd-pg-perl libfreetype6 libmagickcore3 libmagickcore3-extra libmagickwand3 libmysqlclient16 mysql-client
mysql-client-5.1 mysql-common mysql-server mysql-server-5.1 mysql-server-core-5.1
Do you want to continue [Y/n]
14 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

From first sight it seems logical to issue apt-get upgrade packagename to upgrade only single package with its package dependencies, instead of the whole group the above packs. However doing:
apt-get upgrade imagemagick will still try to upgrade all the packages instead of just imagemagick and its dependency package deb libmagickcore3

debian:~# apt-get upgrade imagemagick
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following packages will be upgraded:
at imagemagick libdbd-pg-perl libfreetype6 libmagickcore3 libmagickcore3-extra libmagickwand3 libmysqlclient16 mysql-client
mysql-client-5.1 mysql-common mysql-server mysql-server-5.1 mysql-server-core-5.1
14 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]

Doing all package,upgrade is not a good idea in my case, since upgrading mysql-server will require a MySQL server restart (something which we cannot afford to do right now) on this production server.
MySQL server restart during upgrade is never a good idea especially on productive busy (heavy loaded) SQL servers.
A restart of the MySQL server serving thousands of requests per second could lead often to crashed tables and hence temporary server downtime etc.

Still it is a good idea to upgrade the rest of packages with their newer versions. For exmpl. to upgrade; imagemagick, at , libfreetype6 and so on.

In order to upgrade only this 3 ones and their respective package dependencies, issue:

debian:~# apt-get --yes install imagemagick at libfreetype6

Repeat the apt-get install command with passing all the single package name you want to be upgraded and voila you're done :).
Be sure the apt-get install packagename upgrade doesn't require also upgrade of myssql-server, mysql-client, mysql-common or mysql-server-core-5.1 or any of the package name you want to preserve from upgrading.

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