This tutorial will teach you how to use the
apt Linux command with examples.
- An account with sudo privileges.
- Access to the terminal.
- A Debian or Ubuntu system. (This tutorial uses Ubuntu 20.04).
apt Command Syntax
apt syntax is:
apt [options] command [packages]
Add at least one command to run the
apt tool successfully. To manage a specific package, include the name of the package in the command.
apt utility supports several options for modifying its output.
apt Command Options
apt allows the use of different options to customize process. Some common arguments are:
|Downloads a package but does not continue with the installation.
|Does not download any packages and uses the ones already downloaded.
|Answers “no” to all prompts.
|Answers “yes” to prompts without interrupting the process.
|Tries to fix broken dependencies.
|Does not alter the system, only displays what the output will be.
|Prints a help guide and leads to an Easter Egg.
Note: Learn the difference between APT and APT-GET.
Most Common apt Commands
apt tool works with many commands. The following table provides the most common examples.
|Gets the info about the latest versions of available packages but does not install any upgrades.
|Downloads the up-to-date package versions and upgrades installed packages to the new version.
|Upgrades the currently installed packages and removes packages not needed for the full system upgrade.
|Installs a specified package from the repository.
|Deletes a package but leaves configuration files.
|Deletes a package and any configuration files.
|Removes no longer required dependencies.
|Lists all available packages or packages according to specific criteria.
|Searches for packages whose name or description contains the search term.
|Prints details about a specific package.
|Allows users to edit package sources in a text editor.
apt commands require the use of sudo to complete when root permissions are necessary to read, write, or execute the files.
When you try to install some tools without
sudo, the following error message appears:
How to Use apt
Linux systems already have a primary package manager for deb files, dpkg. Still,
apt is a more straightforward way to handle deb packages. The
apt command-line utility manages packages automatically, and installs and removes dependencies as needed.
Update Packages with apt update
apt update command updates the local repository with package metadata (info about the latest versions available) and prints the list of upgradeable packages. Always execute the update command before upgrades or installations to ensure to get the latest version.
sudo apt update
Upgrade Packages with apt upgrade
Upgrade installed packages to the latest versions with
apt upgrade. When you run the command without the package name,
apt upgrade affects all installed packages:
sudo apt upgrade
To upgrade a specific package, append the name:
sudo apt upgrade lsof
upgrade commands also print output when executed together. To run these commands in one step and avoid being asked to confirm the process, use the
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y
Full-Upgrade Packages with apt full-upgrade
The command upgrades all installed packages. It also removes any packages if that is needed to upgrade the whole system. The
full-upgrade is often done at the distribution release’s life cycle end.
sudo apt full-upgrade
Install Packages with apt install
apt install command installs a specified package from the repository.
sudo apt install ffmpeg
apt install, update and upgrade packages to get the latest versions.
Only Download Packages with apt download
apt download-only feature allows users to use deb files without installing them. To download packages without starting the installation, run:
sudo apt download apache2
Remove Packages with apt remove
To remove an installed package, run:
sudo apt remove ffmpeg
Type y or after being prompted and the command removes the package.
Remove All Configuration Files with apt purge
remove command deletes the specified packages. Still, the command doesn’t always remove all configuration files. Delete the package and configuration files, with
sudo apt purge ffmpeg
Remove Unused Dependencies with apt autoremove
Package dependencies often remain on the system even when a package is removed. To remove the unneeded dependencies and save space, use:
sudo apt autoremove
Install and Remove Packages with one apt Command
- suffixes added to the package names allows users to install and remove packages with one command. For instance, to install my
mysql-server, but remove
sudo apt remove apache2 mysql-server+
List Packages with apt list
When executed without arguments,
apt list prints the names and details of all available, installed, and upgradeable packages. Since the output is extensive, pipe the command with
more to navigate the output easier.
For instance, pipe
apt list with
more to move through the terminal one page at a time:
apt list | more
To show only installed packages, filter the output with:
apt list --installed
To get a list of all upgradeable packages, use:
apt list --upgradeable
In this case, the output doesn’t list any package, meaning that there are no packages to be upgraded.
Narrow the search even more by printing only a list of packages satisfying certain criteria. For instance, list packages containing the term
apt list lsof
List Package Dependencies with apt depends
To print all dependencies linked to a package, run:
apt depends lsof
Search Packages with apt search
apt search command scans names and descriptions of available packages for a specified search term. For instance, find all packages containing the term lsof:
sudo apt search lsof
Assuming the search term is mentioned in many packages, the output is extensive. To narrow down the search, use the
apt search --names-only lsof
apt search command prints results if run without
sudo as well, as long as user has access to the packages in question.
Get Package Info with apt show
To display details about the package like the dependencies, content description, download, and installation size, sources, etc., use:
apt show lsof
After going through this guide, you now know how to add, remove, install, and work with packages with the
apt Linux command.
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