Updating PiAware


I’ve got a few questions regarding updates and best practices for the PiAware SD card build. I’m using 3.6.2 which I deployed as a fresh image. I searched for answers to these but drew a blank so I’m asking here so there’s a reference for future users. I have auto updates disabled as I prefer to have manual control over updates to active systems.

  1. The current version is 3.6.2. Before that was 3.5.3. Is there a format to these numbers? For example would a minor update to 3.6.2 be 3.6.3?

  2. I had 3.5.3 since Nov 2017 when I joined and I never updated it until I overwrote it with 3.6.2. Obviously there would be OS updates in that time, some of them important and urgent. Should I be doing apt-get update+upgrade on the SD build? If not, is there some other way to get OS updates on?

  3. On my site admin page I can send an “Upgrade and restart PiAware”. There is also an “Upgrade and restart dump1090” (which I assume means dump1090-fa). When would an upgrade using these options be needed? Would they be used to search for and install ongoing updates, as in the previous question, or are the specifically for installing a new release of PiAware, such as when 3.5.3 was replaced by 3.6.2? When would the dump1090 upgrade option be needed?

  4. If I have auto updates enabled what kind of updates will be installed and is there a schedule for them? As with the previous question would these be ongoing OS updates or just an automated way to move from the likes of 3.5.3 to 3.6.2?

Many thanks,


I cannot speak for FA, but yes, the extent of an update is usually indicated by the dotted digits. A x.x.1 to x.x.2 is a minor update, usually to correct a minor issue such as labeling or formatting.

A x.1.x to x.2.x could be a bug fix. A 1.x.x to 2.x.x is an update that likely introduces new features, or a new GUI, things that will be noticed right away as being new.

Personal opinion, if ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. To update the OS only, SSH into the RPi and do it from there.

I cannot comment on the other two points. I think they are more likely to create problems. Again, personal opinion, if and when an update is needed/available, re-imaging the SD card is far and away the best method. If you don’t have easy access to the RPi, then ‘all bets are off’.:wink:


Automatic updates are typically just for piaware / dump1090-fa and, for sdcard installs, the associated piaware sdcard infrastructure packages. We push these out occasionally when there’s a new version and it’s fairly settled. Probably we’ll do an auto-update after the next 3.6.x version is available (there are a few bugfixes from 3.6.2 pending). The automatic updates are just a FlightAware-initiated version of the “Upgrade …” commands on the site admin page.

There is a mechanism for installing OS updates automatically, but it’s not been used for a long time; we don’t know exactly how your device is set up or what’s installed, and it’s somewhat risky to push automated updates like that to a remote device without having a human in the loop and we don’t want to break anyone’s install. The PiAware sdcard images expose few external services, so security updates are somewhat less of a problem. There have been a couple of cases where we’ve included a versioned dependency on a non-piaware package from the main sdcard package to force an upgrade of just that external package when there’s a security fix that’s needed.

That said, attended OS updates with a human in the loop is a good idea. You can just do a apt-get update / apt-get upgrade. This will pick up both OS and piaware updates.


thank you chrislfa for asking and obj for the nice answer. this has been confusing at best and it’s nice to see some official guidance.


This is a great guide for all. Thanks Oliver.

Unlike many members, my Pis are at arms reach. I take advantage of this, and always go for re-imaging: every thing fresh install.

This is the cleanest and headache-free solution. The down side is more time and effort, but this pays back in the long run.


For reference, the two options for updates are in piaware-config.

allow-auto-updates - Your site will automatically get updated to the latest release of piaware+dump1090 usually a few weeks after the release. This update is initiated by FlightAware but your site can ignore this update command by settings this to no.

allow-manual-updates - Your site can be manually update through your my-ADSB page on FlightAware. This will grab the latest version. Use the gear icon on your my-ADSB page and select the update you want to do. Turning this to no will prevent the my-ADSB command from running on your site.

The other option is to use the command line to run apt-get. These are the same commands that can be initiated by the my-ADSB page.