The Awesome APT Package

The first package I would recommend everyone to install is APT 6 Transitional (deb file here).

Note: you could install .deb packages by using the dpkg -i <path-to-deb-file>command.

Once you’ve done that, you can start playing with apt-cache and apt-get.

Here is a list of commands that I find incredibly useful:

apt-get update: to refresh sources

apt-cache search <package-name>: to search for packages containing <package-name>and show their descriptions

apt-cache pkgnames <pkg-prefix>: to search for packages with names starting with <pkg-prefix>

apt-get -d install <pkg-identifier>: to download the package .deb file to /var/cache/apt/archives/

At any rate, you could always use the --help flag to bring out the full list of commands, but I present you with a more comprehensive list below: (thanks to this reddit post by u/Secretss)


apt-cache stats to show statistics about your all sources combined, including number of packages

apt-cache pkgnames to list all available packages; will take a while and may pause halfway while cataloging on-screen

apt-cache pkgnames to list packages starting with PackageName; doesn’t show descriptions

apt-cache search to search for packages containing PackageName and show their short descriptions

apt-cache show to show the control file for PackageName

apt-cache showpkg to list dependencies required for PackageName and reverse dependencies on PackageName including uninstalled ones

Refreshing sources

apt-get update to refresh sources

Upgrading and Installing

apt-get upgrade to update packages without automatically removing/installing anything to satisfy conflicts/dependencies

apt-get dist-upgrade to update packages by automatically removing conflicts and installing dependencies

apt-get install to install or update a package or packages; separate package names with a space; doesn’t work as a reinstall

apt-get install to install a specific version of a package if it’s available; only works if the package isn’t already installed at the requested version; works for downgrading

apt-get -d install to download a package to /var/cache/apt/archives without installing; only works if the package isn’t already installed (or at the same version requested as indicated with ‘=’)

Removing and Purging

apt-get remove to uninstall a package without removing configuration files

apt-get remove --purge to uninstall a package and remove configuration files (these are not preference files, which will still remain)

apt-get purge to remove any remaining config files for uninstalled packages

apt-get autoremove to remove dependencies that were installed for another package that has since been uninstalled and thus are no longer needed

Cleaning and Checking

apt-get autoclean to only clean up old .deb files that can no longer be downloaded and are largely useless

apt-get clean to clean up all .deb files in /var/cache/apt/archives

apt-get check to check that there are no broken dependencies

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I'm Bobby Yan, a programmer, music lover and web developer. I am currently working on IB Notes, a website with useful and concise study guides and notes for IB students. I have also built the Spanish Vocabulary Builder iOS app to help Spanish learners.

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