How to Upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) LTS Server

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Server from 18.04 or 19.10.

Our previous tutorial showed you how to upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 desktop. You can find that post here if you wish to upgrade your desktop instead.

For students and new users looking for help upgrading to Ubuntu 20.04 (code-named Focal Fossa) server, the steps below should be a great place to start.

Focal Fossa will be released on April 23th, (as of this writing, that’s next week) so right now it’s still in beta. However, on release day, this post will give you a leg-up when you want to learn how to upgrade your desktop.

If you’re a student or a new user, you will find out that the easiest place to start learning Linux is on Ubuntu Linux OS.

It’s a great Linux operating system for beginners.

Ubuntu is an open source Linux operating systems that runs on desktops, laptops, server and other device.

While learning Ubuntu, you will find that Linux isn’t so different than Windows and other operating systems in so many ways, especially when it comes to using the system to get work done.

To get started upgrade Ubuntu server to 20.04, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Prepare Ubuntu for Upgrade

Before upgrading Ubuntu server, make sure to update all currently installed packages to the latest versions.

When running Ubuntu servers, you probably going to be using the command line terminal or a console. To update Ubuntu server from your terminal, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt autoremove

After running the commands above and updating installed packages you should probably restart your server, especially if you’re prompted to remove unneeded packages and kernel headers from your system.

To restart, simply run the commands below from your terminal.

sudo reboot

Step 2: Upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04

Now that your server is updated, continue to upgrading to Ubuntu 20.04. Follow the steps below to get it done.

If you’re upgrading over SSH it’s a good idea to configure SSH server to keep your connection alive so you don’t lose access to your server while upgrading.

To do that, open ssh-server configuration file, run the commands below.

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Then edit the line below to update the ClientAliveIntervar to 90 or more…

#PrintLastLog yes
#TCPKeepAlive yes
#UseLogin no
#PermitUserEnvironment no
#Compression delayed
ClientAliveInterval 90
#ClientAliveCountMax 3
#UseDNS no

Save the file and exit…. then restart SSH server…

sudo systemctl restart ssh

After that, run the commands below to install Ubuntu update-manager-core package if it’s not already installed.

To install update-manager-code, run the commands below:

sudo apt install update-manager-core

Next, run the commands below to open update-manager-core configuration file.

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

When the file opens, set the Prompt to one of these depending on which version of Ubuntu you’re running.

Ubuntu 18.04 Should set Prompt to: lts
Ubuntu 19.10 Should set Prompt to: normal

Change the Prompt value to normal if you’re running Ubuntu 19.10 and want to upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04.

If you’re running Ubuntu 18.04, then change the Prompt value to lts.

# Default behavior for the release upgrader.

# Default prompting and upgrade behavior, valid options:
#  never  - Never check for, or allow upgrading to, a new release.
#  normal - Check to see if a new release is available.  If more than one new
#           release is found, the release upgrader will attempt to upgrade to
#           the supported release that immediately succeeds the
#           currently-running release.
#  lts    - Check to see if a new LTS release is available.  The upgrader
#           will attempt to upgrade to the first LTS release available after
#           the currently-running one.  Note that if this option is used and
#           the currently-running release is not itself an LTS release the
#           upgrader will assume prompt was meant to be normal.

Save the file and exit

After changing Ubuntu upgrader settings above, run the commands below to start the upgrade process.

If want to upgrade to the development version (beta) prior to the final version being released, you can run the commands below with the -d option.

The -d option with the update-manager command allows you to upgrade to the development release from the latest supported release.

Generally speaking you shouldn’t upgrade to 20.04 pre-release version. The pre-release version is still in development and may not be suitable for production environment.

The -c option with the do-release-upgrade command checks for distribution upgrade from the latest supported version.

To upgrade Ubuntu server, run the commands below:

sudo do-release-upgrade -c

When you’re run the commands above, it should display info telling you that Ubuntu 20.04 is available, and do to the do-release-upgrade to upgrade to it.

Checking for a new Ubuntu release
New release '20.04' available.
Run 'do-release-upgrade' to upgrade to it.

You can simply run the sudo do-release-upgrade -d if you upgrade to the development or beta version.

Follow the on-screen instructions. y = yes and N= No. When prompted whether you wish to upgrade type y for yes.

Do you want to start the upgrade? 

5 packages are going to be removed. 85 new packages are going to be 
installed. 1168 packages are going to be upgraded. 

You have to download a total of 803 M. This download will take about 
11 minutes with your connection. 

Installing the upgrade can take several hours. Once the download has 
finished, the process cannot be canceled. 

 Continue [yN]  Details [d]

Wait for all the newer packages to be downloaded. this may take a while depending on your Internet connection speed. After all packages are downloaded, your system will begin upgrading immediately.

Once new packages have finished installing, you’ll be asked whether to remove obsolete packages. Type y here.

If you have a system that you have customized, you may wish to enter d to view the list. just in case you may need to reinstall.

Remove obsolete packages?

53 packages are going to be removed.

 Continue [yN]  Details [d]y

Wait for the process to complete, the reboot to finish. you’ll be notify to reboot.

Restart required

To finish the upgrade, a restart is required.
If you select 'y' the system will be restarted.

Continue [yN] y

Depending on the speed of your Internet, this process may take few minutes to a couple of hours, and after Ubuntu desktop is upgraded, you should be able to restart and start using the new Ubuntu!

After a while, all packages should be upgraded. While packages that are needed will be upgraded, others that are no longer needed will be listed and asked to remove or keep.

After that, restart the system to complete the upgrade.

Login and enjoy!

This is how to upgrade Ubuntu.


This post showed you how to upgrade from Ubuntu 18.04 | 19.10 to Ubuntu 20.04. If you find any error above, please use the comment form below to report.


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