Moving to the Next Ubuntu Release
So now your system is up to date, but Ubuntu doesn’t like to let the grass grow. One of the original goals for Ubuntu was to have frequent releases, and with only one notable exception (the 6.06 LTS release, which was delayed by two months), there have been six months between each release since 4.10. This book has been revised for the latest version—9.04—but another one will be along soon. Release 8.04 and the earlier 6.06 are both Long Term Support (LTS) versions of Ubuntu, supported for three years on the desktop and five on the server. All other versions are supported for eighteen months and are superseded by a new version every six months. Essentially, if you are running the LTS version, you might not be too interested in moving to the latest and greatest until the next LTS version comes out.
Doing the Actual Upgrade
Since Ubuntu 6.06 was released, upgrading is far easier because of a graphical tool that tells you when a new version of Ubuntu is available and walks you through the upgrade process. Note that if you already know or want to learn the manual method, that is fine, too. Both means will achieve the same result.
When a new release is available, the update manager will tell you that a new version is available. All you need to do is click on the Upgrade button to start the process. You will first be shown the release notes, which mention new features or any outstanding bugs. After you click on the Upgrade button on this screen, the necessary changes to your software repositories are made, and then the program will download and install the new distribution. You may be prompted if you have changed any configuration files. After the actual installation is complete, you will be told which, if any, packages are no longer officially supported by Ubuntu (have moved to the universe repository). Last, all you need to do is restart your computer when prompted, and you will begin enjoying the new release.
You can also initiate an upgrade simply by inserting a CD that contains a newer version of Ubuntu than the one you are currently running. Follow the prompts for an upgrade experience similar to using the update manager.