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This page is about the ways to list the installed packages in a Debian system and how to create a file with this list. This file can be uploaded to the web (i.e. from other computer with Internet connection) to download new packages.

List all installed packages

With version and architecture information, and description, in a table:

dpkg-query -l

Package names only, one per line:

dpkg-query -f '${binary:Package}\n' -W

List packages using a search pattern

It is possible to add a search pattern to list packages:

dpkg-query -l 'foo*'

Show status of all packages on the system

To check the status of all packages on your system:

dpkg-query -l '*' | less

This will show all packages (one line each) that are in various stages of installation (including packages that were removed but not purged) and packages just available from a repository. To show only installed packages:

dpkg -l | grep '^.i'

you can filter with grep to get results for "i".

You can also use:

apt-cache pkgnames

Or you can use dpkg to list the current package selections (the desired state of either installed or to be installed packages):

dpkg --get-selections

And store the list of software to a file called /backup/package-selections

dpkg --get-selections >/backup/package-selections

You can also find package information in the next directories (you can use mc or other FileManager to browse them):

Restore installed software

After re-installing base system you can immediately re-install all software. You need dselect:

apt-get install dselect

Then you have to type following command:

dpkg --set-selections </backup/package-selections

Now that your list is imported use apt-get, Synaptic or other PackageManagement tools. To install the packages:

apt-get dselect-upgrade

All this with a single command:

aptitude install $(cat /backup/package-selections | awk '{print $1}')

See also