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This page describes how to use various CLI (command line interface) Apt tools.

Configuring Apt Sources

Apt downloads packages and installs them onto your computer. To do that it connects to software repositories, or sources, which contain all the packages you'd want. You can configure Apt to use a source (or multiple sources) to get these packages from. There are many sources - web (HTTP) servers, FTP servers, CD-ROM disks, network servers (etc). Generally users download packages from the internet, since most users don't download all 3 DVDs (for the current Debian Stretch release).

Editing sources directly

You can edit the file which determines your sources directly:

As root:

# nano /etc/apt/sources.list


# gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

You should read the manual for this configuration file first here or by typing man sources.list at a console window. You could also read the sources.list wiki page.

A root console (in GNOME) can most likely be found at Applications > System Tools > Root Terminal. You can also use sudo to edit these files from a console running as normal user account.

Using a graphical program

Some programs allow configuring Apt sources through a graphical interface. For example:

Installing Packages

Open a root console

# aptitude install <package>


To reinstall a package type in a terminal:

aptitude reinstall <package>

To reinstall with all dependencies, type:

# aptitude reinstall <package> $(apt-cache depends --recurse --installed <package> ||grep '[ ]')

Removing a Package

# aptitude remove <package>

where <package> is the name of the package (application) you want to remove.

To also delete files and directories created by the package after installation, such as configuration or status (Warning: this may include files modified by the user), use:

# aptitude purge <package>

Updating a Package

Open a root console

# aptitude upgrade <package>

where <package> is the name of the package (application) you want to update.

Keeping your system up-to-date

Open a root console

# aptitude update
# aptitude upgrade

This does all the "noninterfering" package upgrades.

# aptitude dist-upgrade

This does package upgrades that require installing or removing some other package. Check the packages to be REMOVED: Any package lib<foo> is fine. If it's removing something you use, and there is nothing obviously replacing it (e.g. emacs20 replaced by emacs21), you may want to make yourself a note so you can reinstall it later (when a compatible package is available), or "pin" that package (see "man apt_preferences") before doing the "dist-upgrade".

Search for packages

Open a console

$ apt-cache search <string>

where <string> is a list of keywords to search for.

You may want to pipe the output (redirect the output) into "less" (a scrollable viewer) since the list may be huge:

$ apt-cache search <string> | less

List installed packages

Open a console

$ dpkg --list

Further Reading

?CategoryQuickPackageManagement | CategoryPackageManagement