LinuxJournal has an excerpt from “Linux Patch Management: Keeping Linux Systems Up to Date”
Read a bunch about apt here
One of the popular Linux patch management systems is based on the Advanced Package Tool, known as apt. While it was developed for Debian Linux, it is the standard patch management tool for a number of Debian and Red Hat-based distributions, including Knoppix, Xandros, and even the Lineox rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. But if you prefer apt, the associated tools can be installed on most Linux distributions.