Two years ago I wrote an application called AutoUpgrade to make it easy to set up cron jobs for a weekly upgrade of pclos with varying degrees of automation.
Since then, Update Notifier has appeared and so has KDE 4. AutoUpgrade is not compatible with KDE 4. However, KDE 4 has an excellent task scheduling interface which makes the job almost as easy, so AutoUpgrade is not really needed anymore and I don't plan to fix it.
For those who like to install the latest as and when it becomes available, Update Notifier is the way to go.
If you prefer to upgrade weekly, perhaps because you want to schedule rkhunter to check your system before the upgrade and then reset its MD5 sums after the upgrade, here's how:
First, ensure kdeadmin4 is installed (use Synaptic) and crond is set to run on boot (PCC).
Alt+F2 and type "kdesu systemsettings" to bring up root's Settings dialogue. Then go to System -> Task Scheduler and click New Task. Enter "apt-get update" as the command and choose the time you want it to run every week (or month or day). Click "Enable this task".
If you want the upgrade to be fully automatic, add " && apt-get dist-upgrade" to the end of the command. If you want Synaptic to open without requesting a password (so anyone sitting at the machine can alter what's installed), add " && export DISPLAY=0: && synaptic" instead. If you just want to ensure your package lists are always reasonably current to save reloading when launching Synaptic by hand, choose to update at least once a day but leave the rest of the command blank. Similarly if you want Synaptic to require a password. Click OK and Apply and close the Window.
If you just want package lists updated or want a fully automatic upgrade, you have now finished. If you want Synaptic to launch automatically you now need to open systemsettings as your normal user from the "Configure your desktop icon and navigate to the Task Scheduler once more. Open up a New Task.
If you want Synaptic to launch without requiring a password (from the root task you've just set up) set the command "xhost local:" to run just before the time you set for root's task. This will allow root to open the Synaptic window on your screen.
If you want Synaptic to require a password, set the command "export DISPLAY=0: && kdesu synaptic" to run five or ten minutes after the time you set in root's schedule.
You should now have automatic weekly (or whatever frequency you chose) upgrading set up the way you want it. Now you can forget all about it and enjoy using the computer.