Ubuntu – Is editing sources.list a good idea


This doubt is hitting me since 2-3 days, so I decided to test it myself. What I did is I installed Ubuntu 16.04.4 in VMWare and edited /etc/apt/sources.list and replaced xenial with bionic using:

sudo sed -i 's/xenial/bionic/g' /etc/apt/sources.list

Then I ran

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade 

I was able to upgrade to 18.04, confirmed by using lsb_release -a. However, I encountered some problems like:

  • apt does not have a stable CLI interface. Use with caution in scripts.

  • unmet dependency of python3-aptdaemon.pkcompat

  • Release 'bionic-backports' for 'appstream' not found

  • Broken Unity

I solved all the errors and installed gnome and gdm3.

So, I just want to know is it a good idea to edit sources.list? I know that my system might broke but is there any other specific reason not to use this.

Note: I tested this on Ubuntu 16.04 in VMWare to clear my doubts only.

Best Answer

Editing /etc/sources.list is one step to migrate to a subsequent release in Debian...but not in Ubuntu. You can still use it, but it's not recommended because most users shouldn't need to deal with precisely the problems you encountered.

Instead, Ubuntu provides a tool (the do-release-upgrade command) that will properly change the sources, download and install the upgrade, and remove orphans, all in a predictable and reproducible way to prevent corner-case problems. This tool is the recommended way to upgrade to a newer release of Ubuntu.