It's important to keep Linux systems up to date. Updates can help you keep your systems secure, help you fix problems, and help you incorporate the newest features. Updates in the world of computers are also known as patches.
In this chapter, we'll examine the basics of patch management, how you can apply patches to your computer, and where you should get patches for several Linux distributions. Patch management methods vary by distribution. If you're paying for support from Red Hat or SUSE, you're paying in part for support through their patch management systems. If you're using another Linux distribution, there are solid freely available alternatives.
When you administer a network, you're responsible for updates on a number of computers. You could configure each of these computers to get their updates automatically, but that might overload your network and connection to the Internet. In later chapters, we will show you how to configure a patch management repository for your network.