Linoob’s Guide to ‘apt’ – Advanced Packaging Tool 1 comment

apt‘ or the Advanced Packaging Tool is one of the most powerful system tool available in Ubuntu. If you are a GUI lover or a classic terminal junkie, you have to deal with it no matter what. Almost all Ubuntu users have used it knowingly or unknowingly. So, now lets take a walk down the basics of this tool, how it works and how to master it.

Installing Packages

sudo apt-get install <package_name>

It downloads and installs the given package if present in the package database. This command will automatically verify package authenticity for gpg keys it knows about.

sudo apt-get -d install <package_name>

Downloads the package file only, places it in /var/cache/apt/archives. No install is done.

sudo apt-get -f install <package_name>

Does a check for broken packages & tries to fix any “unmet dependency” messages.

NOTE : ‘<package_name>’ should be replaced by the actual package name that needs to be installed. If you put <package_name>* then all the packages with the same first name will be installed . This is really helpful if you want to install all the packages starting with the same initial name.


sudo apt-get update

Consults /etc/apt/sources.list and updates the database of available packages. Be sure to run this command whenever sources.list is changed.

sudo apt-get upgrade

Check updates for all installed packages and then prompt to download and install them.

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Updates the entire system to a new release, even if it means removing packages.

Note: This is not the preferred method for updating a system.

System Cleaning

sudo apt-get autoclean

Should be run once a week to delete partially downloaded packages, or packages no longer installed.

sudo apt-get clean

Removes all cached packages from /var/cache/apt/archives & frees up disk space.

Removing Packages

sudo apt-get remove <package_name>

Removes the named package from the system.

sudo apt-get –purge remove <package_name>

Remove the named package and all its configuration files. Remove the –purge keyword to keep config files.

Checking Availability

apt-cache pkgnames

Lists all packages installed on the system.

apt-cache show <package_name>

Displays information about the software from the named package.

apt-config -v

Displays version information of installed APT utilities.

sudo apt-key list

List gpg keys that APT knows about. apt-cache stats Print statistics on all packages installed.

apt-cache search <package_name>

Searches for the package by name (case sensitive). The package names and descriptions are returned where that keyword is found.

apt-cache depends <package_name>

Displays dependencies for a package (whether it’s installed or not).


For further information about the use of APT

apt-get help

Simple Example

Lets just consider we need a program named ‘nmap’. We will now see the installation, checking and removal procedure.

First we go and search for ‘namp’ –

apt-cache search nmap

Ok ! Its there so now we just type the command to get the software package –

sudo apt-get install nmap (Remember nmap* will install all the packages starting with the name nmap)

The terminal will ask for password, just type it in and press enter. Nmap will be installed in a few moments depending on your internet speed & thats it !

If you dont want it, you can remove it easily. To remove nmap, just type-

sudo apt-get –purge remove nmap

and it will be done. Thats it for now. We leave you with rest of the commands for experimentation but be careful !

If you still don’t wanna go into these complications try using Ubuntu Tweak or Ailirus

Njoy !

About Cell aka Abhishek

A Technology Fanatic, Open-source lover, a future Entrepreneur, & an Innovative thinker, is presently working as a R&D Engineer in the Wind Turbine Industry.

  • madhumati patil

    can you send the code for installing and removing packages in python using advanced packaging tool