General Upgrade Information
An upgrade is the process of going from an earlier version of Ubuntu to a newer version of Ubuntu with an installed system. An example of this would be going from Ubuntu 17.10 to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. To avoid damaging your running system, upgrading should only be done from one release to the next release (e.g. Ubuntu 16.04 to Ubuntu 16.10) or from one LTS release to the next (e.g. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS). If you wish to 'skip' a version, you can back up your data and do a fresh installation, or progressively upgrade to each successive version. For example, to upgrade from Ubuntu 16.10 to Ubuntu 17.10, first upgrade to 17.04, then upgrade 17.04 to 17.10.
Renewing the Installation without formatting the partitions (in contrast to upgrading), will also keep the personal data and configurations under /home but will renew all system settings under /etc as well as the default set of installed packages.
You should always run a supported release of Ubuntu in order to receive security bug fixes. If you are using old hardware, you should not stick to obsolete and unsupported releases to keep your system fast; it is much better to install a lighter distro like Lubuntu.
The long time support (LTS) version is recommended for people in an environment (generally commercial/industrial) that do not want things to change and do not require newer/faster/updated versions, but instead want to keep the same version for a longer amount of time.
On this page you can see some arguments for an upgrade and for a fresh install.
An easy way to test a newer version of Ubuntu for compatibility with your machine is trying the Live CD before upgrading/renewing the installation.
To find your Ubuntu version, select the "cog" in the upper right corner of the top panel, then click:
About This Computer
Using packages from repositories not controlled by Ubuntu is not recommended as it can be a security risk and may break or complicate your upgrade. If you have used EasyUbuntu or Automatix (neither of which is recommended nor supported), you may have problems upgrading to a newer version and may require a fresh install. If you have installed software from other sources, the upgrade may go more smoothly if you remove this software before attempting the upgrade.
If you have trouble downloading only when doing a distribution upgrade, try viewing UpgradeProblems.
Current and Supported Versions
Supported versions of Ubuntu have finished their testing and are reliable and recommended for everyday normal use. This is what you would usually have installed on your machine. A generic upgrade guide can be found here, this guide does not mention specific quirks per release. Refer to their own upgrade notes as mentioned below.
From 16.04 LTS or 17.10 to 18.04 LTS
- Version: 18.04 (Bionic Beaver)
See the BionicUpgrades page for upgrading information
From 14.04 LTS or 15.10 to 16.04 LTS
- Version: 16.04 (Xenial Xerus)
See the XenialUpgrades page for upgrading information
From 12.04 LTS to 14.04 LTS
- Version: 14.04 (Trusty Tahr)
See the this page for upgrading information
LTS stands for "Long Term Support," meaning the Desktop Edition is supported for three years, and the Server Edition is supported for five years. "Supported" means that Ubuntu will continue to provide security and the like until the EOL (End-of-life) date.
Unsupported and Obsolete Versions
End-of-life releases are versions of Ubuntu that are obsolete and have no official support. It would be best for users of these versions to perform a fresh install of the latest Ubuntu release. However, users still trying to do an upgrade can find instructions in this guide and may find suggestions at this page.