apt-mark – upgrade with the exception of certain packages

If you are in a situation when you want to upgrade your system, but do not want to upgrade a certain software in it you can just instruct apt not to upgrade these packages with:

apt-mark hold <package name(s)>

Here is how you can block updating 4 packages – ca-certificates, firefox, ghostscript, linux-firmware. First we update and upgrade and you can see there is no packages to keep back, and then we use apt-mark to “hold” package “linux-firmware” and ca-certificates, firefox, ghostscript at once. Initiating apt upgrade again will give you “The following packages have been kept back:” and it will include all packages, which will not be upgraded (it will include dependencies, which require some of the blocked packages).

myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt update
Hit:1 http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-security InRelease
Hit:2 http://es.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial InRelease        
Hit:3 http://es.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-updates InRelease
Hit:4 http://es.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu xenial-backports InRelease
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
248 packages can be upgraded. Run 'apt list --upgradable' to see them.
myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt upgrade
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Calculating upgrade... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  ubuntu-advantage-tools
The following packages will be upgraded:
  apparmor apt apt-transport-https apt-utils apturl apturl-common bind9-host binutils ca-certificates cpp-5 cups cups-bsd cups-client cups-common
  cups-core-drivers cups-daemon cups-ppdc cups-server-common distro-info-data dnsutils dpkg dpkg-dev firefox fonts-opensymbol friendly-recovery fwupd g++-5
  gcc-5 gcc-5-base gettext gettext-base ghostscript ghostscript-x gir1.2-javascriptcoregtk-4.0 gir1.2-packagekitglib-1.0 gir1.2-webkit2-4.0 gnupg gpgv
  hwdata imagemagick imagemagick-6.q16 imagemagick-common initramfs-tools initramfs-tools-bin initramfs-tools-core intel-microcode iproute2 kmod
  libapparmor-perl libapparmor1 libappstream-glib8 libapt-inst2.0 libapt-pkg5.0 libarchive13 libasan2 libasprintf-dev libasprintf0v5 libatomic1 libbind9-140
  libcapnp-0.5.3 libcc1-0 libcilkrts5 libcups2 libcupscgi1 libcupsimage2 libcupsmime1 libcupsppdc1 libcurl3 libcurl3-gnutls libdfu1 libdns-export162
  libdns162 libdpkg-perl libexiv2-14 libfreerdp-cache1.1 libfreerdp-client1.1 libfreerdp-codec1.1 libfreerdp-common1.1.0 libfreerdp-core1.1
  libfreerdp-crypto1.1 libfreerdp-gdi1.1 libfreerdp-locale1.1 libfreerdp-plugins-standard libfreerdp-primitives1.1 libfreerdp-utils1.1 libfwupd1
  libgcc-5-dev libgd3 libgettextpo-dev libgettextpo0 libglib2.0-0 libglib2.0-bin libglib2.0-data libgomp1 libgs9 libgs9-common libisc-export160 libisc160
  libisccc140 libisccfg140 libitm1 libjavascriptcoregtk-4.0-18 libkmod2 libkpathsea6 liblcms2-2 liblcms2-utils libldap-2.4-2 liblouis-data liblouis9
  liblsan0 liblwres141 libmagickcore-6.q16-2 libmagickcore-6.q16-2-extra libmagickwand-6.q16-2 libmpx0 libnm-glib-vpn1 libnm-glib4 libnm-util2 libnm0
  libnss3 libnss3-nssdb libnux-4.0-0 libnux-4.0-common libpackagekit-glib2-16 libpam-systemd libperl5.22 libpoppler-glib8 libpoppler58 libpython2.7
  libpython2.7-minimal libpython2.7-stdlib libpython3.5 libpython3.5-minimal libpython3.5-stdlib libquadmath0 libraw15 libreoffice-avmedia-backend-gstreamer
  libreoffice-base-core libreoffice-calc libreoffice-common libreoffice-core libreoffice-draw libreoffice-gnome libreoffice-gtk libreoffice-impress
  libreoffice-math libreoffice-ogltrans libreoffice-pdfimport libreoffice-style-breeze libreoffice-style-galaxy libreoffice-writer libsasl2-2
  libsasl2-modules libsasl2-modules-db libsmbclient libsnapd-glib1 libsnmp-base libsnmp30 libssh-4 libssl1.0.0 libstdc++-5-dev libstdc++6 libsystemd0
  libtsan0 libubsan0 libudev1 libunity-settings-daemon1 libwavpack1 libwbclient0 libwebkit2gtk-4.0-37 libwebkit2gtk-4.0-37-gtk2 libwinpr-crt0.1
  libwinpr-dsparse0.1 libwinpr-environment0.1 libwinpr-file0.1 libwinpr-handle0.1 libwinpr-heap0.1 libwinpr-input0.1 libwinpr-interlocked0.1
  libwinpr-library0.1 libwinpr-path0.1 libwinpr-pool0.1 libwinpr-registry0.1 libwinpr-rpc0.1 libwinpr-sspi0.1 libwinpr-synch0.1 libwinpr-sysinfo0.1
  libwinpr-thread0.1 libwinpr-utils0.1 libx11-6 libx11-data libx11-xcb1 libxcursor1 libxkbcommon-x11-0 libxkbcommon0 libxml2 linux-firmware linux-libc-dev
  mokutil network-manager nux-tools openssl perl perl-base perl-modules-5.22 poppler-utils ppp python2.7 python2.7-minimal python3-cryptography
  python3-distupgrade python3-louis python3-lxml python3-requests python3-software-properties python3-uno python3-update-manager python3-urllib3 python3.5
  python3.5-minimal samba-libs secureboot-db snapd-login-service software-properties-common software-properties-gtk squashfs-tools systemd systemd-sysv
  tzdata ubuntu-desktop ubuntu-minimal ubuntu-release-upgrader-core ubuntu-release-upgrader-gtk ubuntu-standard udev unity-settings-daemon uno-libs3
  update-manager update-manager-core update-notifier update-notifier-common ure wpasupplicant x11-common xorg xserver-common xserver-xorg-core-hwe-16.04
  xserver-xorg-legacy-hwe-16.04
248 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 301 MB of archives.
After this operation, 13,5 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] n
Abort.
myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt-mark hold linux-firmware
linux-firmware set on hold.
myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt-mark hold ca-certificates firefox ghostscript
ca-certificates set on hold.
firefox set on hold.
ghostscript set on hold.
myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt-mark showhold
ca-certificates
firefox
ghostscript
linux-firmware
myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt upgrade
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Calculating upgrade... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  ubuntu-advantage-tools
The following packages have been kept back:
  ca-certificates firefox ghostscript ghostscript-x libgs9 linux-firmware
The following packages will be upgraded:
  apparmor apt apt-transport-https apt-utils apturl apturl-common bind9-host binutils cpp-5 cups cups-bsd cups-client cups-common cups-core-drivers
.....
.....
.....
  x11-common xorg xserver-common xserver-xorg-core-hwe-16.04 xserver-xorg-legacy-hwe-16.04
242 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 6 not upgraded.
Need to get 202 MB of archives.
After this operation, 2.255 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n]

To remove the blocking of the above packages use “unhold”:

myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt-mark unhold ca-certificates firefox ghostscript linux-firmware
Canceled hold on ca-certificates.
Canceled hold on firefox.
Canceled hold on ghostscript.
Canceled hold on linux-firmware.
myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt-mark showhold
myuser@myuser-pc:~$

Multiple packages with wildcard *

You can hold packages with a wildcard * if you want to block updating a group of packages:

myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt-mark hold libreoffice-*
libreoffice-gtk3 set on hold.
libreoffice-core set on hold.
libreoffice-writer set on hold.
libreoffice-avmedia-backend-gstreamer set on hold.
libreoffice-base set on hold.
libreoffice-base-core set on hold.
libreoffice-base-drivers set on hold.
libreoffice-java-common set on hold.
libreoffice-report-builder set on hold.
libreoffice-common set on hold.
libreoffice-sdbc-firebird set on hold.
libreoffice-sdbc-hsqldb set on hold.
libreoffice-mysql-connector set on hold.
libreoffice-sdbc-postgresql set on hold.
libreoffice-calc set on hold.
libreoffice-pdfimport set on hold.
libreoffice-script-provider-bsh set on hold.
libreoffice-script-provider-js set on hold.
libreoffice-script-provider-python set on hold.
libreoffice-style-breeze set on hold.
libreoffice-style-galaxy set on hold.
libreoffice-style-hicontrast set on hold.
libreoffice-style-human set on hold.
libreoffice-style-oxygen set on hold.
libreoffice-style-tango set on hold.
libreoffice-wiki-publisher set on hold.
libreoffice-writer2latex set on hold.
libreoffice-writer2xhtml set on hold.
libreoffice-style-sifr set on hold.
libreoffice-dev set on hold.
libreoffice-draw set on hold.
libreoffice-gnome set on hold.
libreoffice-gtk set on hold.
libreoffice-impress set on hold.
libreoffice-kde set on hold.
libreoffice-officebean set on hold.
libreoffice-dbg set on hold.
libreoffice-dev-doc set on hold.
libreoffice-style-elementary set on hold.
libreoffice-help-ca set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ca set on hold.
libreoffice-help-cs set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-cs set on hold.
libreoffice-help-da set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-da set on hold.
libreoffice-help-de set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-de set on hold.
libreoffice-help-dz set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-dz set on hold.
libreoffice-help-el set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-el set on hold.
libreoffice-help-en-gb set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-en-gb set on hold.
libreoffice-help-en-us set on hold.
libreoffice-help-es set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-es set on hold.
libreoffice-help-et set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-et set on hold.
libreoffice-help-eu set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-eu set on hold.
libreoffice-help-fi set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-fi set on hold.
libreoffice-help-fr set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-fr set on hold.
libreoffice-help-gl set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-gl set on hold.
libreoffice-help-hi set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-hi set on hold.
libreoffice-help-hu set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-hu set on hold.
libreoffice-help-it set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-it set on hold.
libreoffice-help-ja set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ja set on hold.
libreoffice-help-km set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-km set on hold.
libreoffice-help-ko set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ko set on hold.
libreoffice-help-nl set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-nl set on hold.
libreoffice-help-om set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-om set on hold.
libreoffice-help-pl set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-pl set on hold.
libreoffice-help-pt set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-pt set on hold.
libreoffice-help-pt-br set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-pt-br set on hold.
libreoffice-help-ru set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ru set on hold.
libreoffice-help-sk set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-sk set on hold.
libreoffice-help-sl set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-sl set on hold.
libreoffice-help-sv set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-sv set on hold.
libreoffice-help-tr set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-tr set on hold.
libreoffice-help-vi set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-vi set on hold.
libreoffice-help-zh-cn set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-zh-cn set on hold.
libreoffice-help-zh-tw set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-zh-tw set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-af set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-am set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ar set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-as set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ast set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-be set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-bg set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-bn set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-br set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-bs set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-cy set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-en-za set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-eo set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-fa set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ga set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-gd set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-gu set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-gug set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-he set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-hr set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-id set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-in set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ml set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-mr set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-or set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-pa-in set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ta set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-te set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-is set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ka set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-kk set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-kmr-latn set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-lt set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-lv set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-mk set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-mn set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-nb set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ne set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-nn set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-nr set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-nso set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-oc set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ro set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-rw set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-si set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-sr set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ss set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-st set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-tg set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-th set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-tn set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ts set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ug set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-uk set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-uz set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-ve set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-xh set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-za set on hold.
libreoffice-l10n-zu set on hold.
libreoffice-math set on hold.
libreoffice-nlpsolver set on hold.
libreoffice-ogltrans set on hold.
libreoffice-voikko set on hold.
libreoffice-report-builder-bin set on hold.
libreoffice-canzeley-client set on hold.
libreoffice-dmaths set on hold.
libreoffice-librelogo set on hold.
libreoffice-lightproof-en set on hold.
libreoffice-lightproof-hu set on hold.
libreoffice-lightproof-ru-ru set on hold.
libreoffice-subsequentcheckbase set on hold.
libreoffice-templates set on hold.
libreoffice-zemberek set on hold.
myuser@myuser-pc:~$ sudo apt upgrade
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Calculating upgrade... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  ubuntu-advantage-tools
The following packages have been kept back:
  libreoffice-avmedia-backend-gstreamer libreoffice-base-core libreoffice-calc libreoffice-common libreoffice-core libreoffice-draw libreoffice-gnome
  libreoffice-gtk libreoffice-impress libreoffice-math libreoffice-ogltrans libreoffice-pdfimport libreoffice-style-breeze libreoffice-style-galaxy
  libreoffice-writer python3-uno
The following packages will be upgraded:
  apparmor apt apt-transport-https apt-utils apturl apturl-common bind9-host binutils ca-certificates cpp-5 cups cups-bsd cups-client cups-common
  cups-core-drivers cups-daemon cups-ppdc cups-server-common distro-info-data dnsutils dpkg dpkg-dev firefox fonts-opensymbol friendly-recovery fwupd g++-5
  gcc-5 gcc-5-base gettext gettext-base ghostscript ghostscript-x gir1.2-javascriptcoregtk-4.0 gir1.2-packagekitglib-1.0 gir1.2-webkit2-4.0 gnupg gpgv
  hwdata imagemagick imagemagick-6.q16 imagemagick-common initramfs-tools initramfs-tools-bin initramfs-tools-core intel-microcode iproute2 kmod
  libapparmor-perl libapparmor1 libappstream-glib8 libapt-inst2.0 libapt-pkg5.0 libarchive13 libasan2 libasprintf-dev libasprintf0v5 libatomic1 libbind9-140
  libcapnp-0.5.3 libcc1-0 libcilkrts5 libcups2 libcupscgi1 libcupsimage2 libcupsmime1 libcupsppdc1 libcurl3 libcurl3-gnutls libdfu1 libdns-export162
  libdns162 libdpkg-perl libexiv2-14 libfreerdp-cache1.1 libfreerdp-client1.1 libfreerdp-codec1.1 libfreerdp-common1.1.0 libfreerdp-core1.1
  libfreerdp-crypto1.1 libfreerdp-gdi1.1 libfreerdp-locale1.1 libfreerdp-plugins-standard libfreerdp-primitives1.1 libfreerdp-utils1.1 libfwupd1
  libgcc-5-dev libgd3 libgettextpo-dev libgettextpo0 libglib2.0-0 libglib2.0-bin libglib2.0-data libgomp1 libgs9 libgs9-common libisc-export160 libisc160
  libisccc140 libisccfg140 libitm1 libjavascriptcoregtk-4.0-18 libkmod2 libkpathsea6 liblcms2-2 liblcms2-utils libldap-2.4-2 liblouis-data liblouis9
  liblsan0 liblwres141 libmagickcore-6.q16-2 libmagickcore-6.q16-2-extra libmagickwand-6.q16-2 libmpx0 libnm-glib-vpn1 libnm-glib4 libnm-util2 libnm0
  libnss3 libnss3-nssdb libnux-4.0-0 libnux-4.0-common libpackagekit-glib2-16 libpam-systemd libperl5.22 libpoppler-glib8 libpoppler58 libpython2.7
  libpython2.7-minimal libpython2.7-stdlib libpython3.5 libpython3.5-minimal libpython3.5-stdlib libquadmath0 libraw15 libsasl2-2 libsasl2-modules
  libsasl2-modules-db libsmbclient libsnapd-glib1 libsnmp-base libsnmp30 libssh-4 libssl1.0.0 libstdc++-5-dev libstdc++6 libsystemd0 libtsan0 libubsan0
  libudev1 libunity-settings-daemon1 libwavpack1 libwbclient0 libwebkit2gtk-4.0-37 libwebkit2gtk-4.0-37-gtk2 libwinpr-crt0.1 libwinpr-dsparse0.1
  libwinpr-environment0.1 libwinpr-file0.1 libwinpr-handle0.1 libwinpr-heap0.1 libwinpr-input0.1 libwinpr-interlocked0.1 libwinpr-library0.1
  libwinpr-path0.1 libwinpr-pool0.1 libwinpr-registry0.1 libwinpr-rpc0.1 libwinpr-sspi0.1 libwinpr-synch0.1 libwinpr-sysinfo0.1 libwinpr-thread0.1
  libwinpr-utils0.1 libx11-6 libx11-data libx11-xcb1 libxcursor1 libxkbcommon-x11-0 libxkbcommon0 libxml2 linux-firmware linux-libc-dev mokutil
  network-manager nux-tools openssl perl perl-base perl-modules-5.22 poppler-utils ppp python2.7 python2.7-minimal python3-cryptography python3-distupgrade
  python3-louis python3-lxml python3-requests python3-software-properties python3-update-manager python3-urllib3 python3.5 python3.5-minimal samba-libs
  secureboot-db snapd-login-service software-properties-common software-properties-gtk squashfs-tools systemd systemd-sysv tzdata ubuntu-desktop
  ubuntu-minimal ubuntu-release-upgrader-core ubuntu-release-upgrader-gtk ubuntu-standard udev unity-settings-daemon uno-libs3 update-manager
  update-manager-core update-notifier update-notifier-common ure wpasupplicant x11-common xorg xserver-common xserver-xorg-core-hwe-16.04
  xserver-xorg-legacy-hwe-16.04
232 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 16 not upgraded.
Need to get 229 MB of archives.
After this operation, 13,5 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n]
.....
.....
.....

Old Ubuntu/Debian versions

Here what you can use if you miss “apt-mark”

echo <package> install | sudo dpkg --set-selections

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