How often should you update Arch Linux?

If you run Arch Linux, or any rolling release system with frequent updates, you have probably asked yourself how often should you be updating it. I’ve run Arch Linux off and on over the last decade and have been through a myriad of update frequencies. Recently, having come back to Arch Linux yet again, I landed on an update frequency that has felt the best for me and my workflows.

Multiple times per day

Every Arch linux user has been there. You install a widget to let you know when there is a new update. That number goes from 0 to 1+ multiple times per day. You don’t want to miss out, so you run updates. Most of the time things are fine, other times something weird happens. Depending on the updates you may need to reboot.

Trying to keep up with every Arch Linux package update is absolutely exhausting, and I don’t recommend it unless you genuinely have a use case for updating that frequently.

Only once per day

You’ve learned to live with the FOMO a bit better. You still have that widget telling you how many updates there are, but you’re okay seeing it rise through the day. You update at the end of the day because the last time you updated at the beginning, you had system issues that made you miss a Zoom call.

Updating Arch Linux only once per day is a bit more tolerable, but can still be exhausting depending on how often you need to reboot after an update.

Once a month

Now we’re getting into a more tolerable frequency. Once a month you update and reboot, and things are pretty good. Problem is, you rarely see any improvements to the packages you’re installing, outside of a few notable milestones throughout the year.

Which leads us to updating even less frequently…

When GNOME is released a/k/a every six months

Your mileage may vary depending on which desktop environment you run and the release frequency of it. For me, it’s GNOME and the release cycle is about every 6 months.

Definitely manageable to update twice a year, but it does come with a lot of anxiety as the number of available updates creeps up every day. A lot more can go wrong as package names can change and keys may be updated. High likelihood of needing to run some additional commands to keep things moving.


Yes, as a matter of fact you could opt to never update your Arch Linux system at all. Similar to justifying updating multiple times per day, you could very well justify a lack of updates all together.

I’ve never gotten a system to a point where I have 100% of every piece of software I want or need already installed. If I ever get to that point of completeness, never updating again would be fine.

I have went well over a year without running any updates, When I did update, things actually went pretty okay, outside of some of the aforementioned gotchas around some packages needing massaged and running a few additional commands.

This all has led me to…

Weekly updates

This has really felt like a sweet spot for me. Late in the week, usually on Friday, I’ll run an update and reboot my machine before getting started on the weekend. I’ve yet to run into any issues, major or minor, over the last 6 or so months of doing weekly updates.

For my system, with the packages I have installed, there are usually around 100 to 150 updates per week. It may seem like a lot, but usually the most notable updates are either the Linux kernel or a web browser or two.

Updating my Arch Linux system weekly has left me feeling sufficiently up to date, without any of the FOMO of less frequent updates!

Josh Sherman - The Man, The Myth, The Avatar

About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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