Upgrade Ubuntu 17.04 to newer versions

Did you got scared by the switch back toward Gnome desktop so you decided to hang with Ubuntu 17.04 for a while, and now you are ready to give Gnome desktop a chance but you get this error when trying to upgrade :

An upgrade from 'zesty' to 'bionic' is not supported with this tool.

It's because Ubuntu is trying to "jump" from 17.04 directly to 18.04 (skipping intermediary versions) and this is not supported apparently (I think it's because those intermediary versions has reached their end of life). You will have to manually get up the "versions ladder" yourself.

You can refer to this list of releases which will tell you all existing versions, and most importantly which ones has reached their end of life (this will affect which URL to fetch later).

Upgrade from 17.04 to 17.10

# backup current sources file (just in case)
sudo cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.bak

# change version codename from 'zesty' to 'artful'
sudo sed -i -re 's/zesty/artful/g' /etc/apt/sources.list

# 17.10 has reached it's end of life
# so we fetch from 'old-releases.ubuntu.com'
sudo sed -i -re 's/archive.ubuntu.com/old-releases.ubuntu.com/g' /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt autoremove

Upgrade from 17.10 to 18.04 LTS

# change version codename from 'artful' to 'bionic'
sudo sed -i -re 's/artful/bionic/g' /etc/apt/sources.list

# 18.04 has NOT reached it's end of life yet (due in 2028)
# so we fetch from 'archive.ubuntu.com'
sudo sed -i -re 's/old-releases.ubuntu.com/archive.ubuntu.com/g' /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt autoremove

Note : at some point during the upgrade, it crashed because of an nvidia package missing a dependency... so I did sudo apt --fix-broken install and restarted the upgrade. Then it worked flawlessly.

Upgrade above 18.04 LTS

From now on, normal update should work as expected using the Software Updater app (can be opened from cli with sudo update-manager). But keep in mind that 18.04 is a long term release, so by default it will not suggest new versions until there is a new long term release available (which will happen in 2020).

If you want to install the newest version right now (currently 19.10), just open the app named "Software & Updates", go to the "Updates" tab, and change the "Notify me of a new Ubuntu version" to "For any new version".

And then you'll be able to install 19.04, then 19.10, etc.


  • I followed these instructions and it worked
  • I did not reboot my computer between upgrades (until I reached 18.04, at this point the Software Updater app asked me to reboot)
  • You can check if the upgrade worked with lsb_release -a (which tells you the currently installed version)
  • This post is based on this stackexchange post (which was a little bit outdated, so I've made this to make sure everything still stands)