apt-get(8) - Linux man page


apt-get - APT package handling utility - command-line interface


apt-get [options] [-o config=string] [-c=cfgfile] command [pkg]


apt-get is the command-line tool for handling packages, and may be considered the user's "back-end" to other tools using the APT library. Several "front-end" interfaces exist, such as synaptic and aptitude.



Unless the -h, or --help option is given, one of the commands below must be present.


Used to re-synchronize the package index files from their sources. The indexes of available packages are fetched from the location(s) specified in /etc/apt/sources.list(5). An update should always be performed before an upgrade or dist-upgrade.


Used to install the newest versions of all packages currently installed on the system from the sources enumerated in /etc/apt/sources.list(5). Packages currently installed with new versions available are retrieved and upgraded; under no circumstances are currently installed packages removed, nor are packages that are not already installed retrieved and installed. New versions of currently installed packages that cannot be upgraded without changing the install status of another package will be left at their current version. An update must be performed first so that apt-get knows that new versions of packages are available.


In addition to performing the function of upgrade, this option also intelligently handles changing dependencies with new versions of packages; apt-get has a "smart" conflict resolution system, and it will attempt to upgrade the most important packages at the expense of less important ones, if necessary.

The /etc/apt/sources.list(5) file contains a list of locations from

which to retrieve desired package files. See also apt_preferences(5) for a mechanism for over-riding the general settings for individual packages.

install pkg(s)

This option is followed by one or more packages desired for installation. Each package is a package name, not a fully qualified filename (for instance, in a Fedora Core system, glibc would be the argument provided, not glibc-2.4.8.i686.rpm).

All packages required by the package(s) specified for installation will also

be retrieved and installed. The /etc/apt/sources.list(5) file is used to locate the repositories for the desired packages. If a hyphen (-) is appended to the package name (with no intervening space), the identified package will be removed if it is currently installed. Similarly a plus sign (+) can be used to designate a package to install. These latter features may be used to override decisions made by apt-get's conflict resolution system.

A specific version of a package can be selected for installation by

following the package name with an equals (=) and the version of the package to select. This will cause that version to be located and selected for install. Alternatively, a specific distribution can be selected by following the package name with a slash (/) and the version of the distribution or the Archive name (i.e. stable, testing, unstable).

Both of the version selection mechanisms can downgrade packages and must be

used with care.

Finally, the apt_preferences(5) mechanism allows you to create an

alternative installation policy for individual packages.

If no package matches the given expression and the expression contains one

of ".", "?" or "*" then it is assumed to be a POSIX regular expression, and it is applied to all package names in the database. Any matches are then installed (or removed). Note that matching is done by substring so "lo.*" matches "how-lo" and "lowest". If this is undesired, anchor the regular expression with a "^" or "$" character, or create a more specific regular expression.

remove pkg(s)

Identical to install except that packages are removed instead of installed. If a plus sign (+) is appended to the package name (with no intervening space), the identified package will be installed instead of removed.

source source_pkg

Causes apt-get to fetch source packages. APT will examine the available packages to decide which source package to fetch. It will then find and download into the current directory the newest available version of that source package. Source packages are tracked separately from binary packages via rpm-src type lines in the sources.list(5) file. This probably will mean that you will not get the same source as the package you have installed, or could install. If the --compile options is specified then the package will be compiled to a binary using rpmbuild, if --download-only is specified then the source package will not be unpacked.

A specific source version can be retrieved by following the source name with

an equals (=) and then the version to fetch, similar to the mechanism used for the package files. This enables exact matching of the source package name and version, implicitly enabling the APT::Get::Only-Source option.

Note that source packages are not tracked like binary packages, they exist

only in the current directory and are similar to downloading source tar balls.

build-dep source_pkg

Causes apt-get to install/remove packages in an attempt to satisfy the build dependencies for a source package.


Diagnostic tool; it updates the package cache and checks for broken dependencies.


Clears out the local repository of retrieved package files. It removes everything but the lock file from /var/cache/apt/archives/ and /var/cache/apt/archives/partial/.


Like clean, autoclean clears out the local repository of retrieved package files. The difference is that it only removes package files that can no longer be downloaded, and are largely useless. This allows a cache to be maintained over a long period of time without it growing out of control. The configuration option APT::Clean-Installed will prevent installed packages from being erased if it is set to off.


All command-line options may be set using the configuration file, the descriptions indicate the configuration option to set. For boolean options you can override the config file by using something like -f-, --no-f, -f=no or several other variations.

-d, --download-only

Download only; package files are only retrieved, not unpacked or installed.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Download-Only.

-f, --fix-broken

Fix. Attempt to correct a system with broken dependencies in place. This option, when used with install/remove, can omit any packages to permit APT to deduce a likely solution. Any package(s) that are specified must completely correct the problem. This option is sometimes necessary when running APT for the first time; APT itself does not allow broken package dependencies to exist on a system. It is possible that a system's dependency structure can be so corrupt as to require manual intervention. Use of this option together with -m may produce an error in some situations.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Fix-Broken.

-m, --ignore-missing, --fix-missing

Ignore missing packages. If packages cannot be retrieved or fail the integrity check after retrieval (corrupted package files), hold back those packages and handle the result. Use of this option together with -f may produce an error in some situations. If a package is selected for installation (particularly if it is mentioned on the command-line) and it could not be downloaded then it will be silently held back.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Fix-Missing.


Disables downloading of packages. This is best used with --ignore-missing to force APT to use only the rpms it has already downloaded.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Download.

-q, --quiet

Quiet. Produces output suitable for logging, omitting progress indicators. More q's will produce more quiet up to a maximum of two. You can also use -q=# to set the quiet level, overriding the configuration file. Note that quiet level 2 implies -y, you should never use -qq without a no-action modifier such as -d, --print-uris or -s as APT may decided to do something you did not expect.

Configuration Item: quiet.

-s, --simulate, --just-print, --dry-run, --recon, --no-act

No action. Perform a simulation of events that would occur but do not actually change the system.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Simulate.

Simulate prints out a series of lines, each one representing an rpm

operation: Configure (Conf), Remove (Remv), Unpack (Inst). Square brackets indicate broken packages with an empty set of square brackets meaning breaks that are of no consequence (rare).

-y, --yes, --assume-yes

Automatic yes to prompts. Assume "yes" as answer to all prompts and run non-interactively. If an undesirable situation, such as changing a held package or removing an essential package, occurs then apt-get will abort.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Assume-Yes.

-u, --show-upgraded

Show upgraded packages. Print out a list of all packages that are to be upgraded.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Show-Upgraded.

-V, --verbose-versions

Show full versions for upgraded and installed packages.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Show-Versions.

-b, --compile, --build

Compile source packages after downloading them.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Compile.


Ignore package Holds. This causes apt-get to ignore a hold placed on a package. This may be useful in conjunction with dist-upgrade to override a large number of undesired holds.

Configuration Item: APT::Ignore-Hold.


Do not upgrade packages. When used in conjunction with install, no-upgrade will prevent packages listed from being upgraded if they are already installed.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Upgrade.


Force yes. This is a dangerous option that will cause apt-get to continue without prompting if it is doing something potentially harmful. It should not be used except in very special situations. Using --force-yes can potentially destroy your system!

Configuration Item: APT::Get::force-yes.


Instead of fetching the files to install, their URIs are printed. Each URI will have the path, the destination file name, the size and the expected md5 hash. Note that the file name to write to will not always match the file name on the remote site! This also works with the source and update commands. When used with the update command, the MD5 and size are not included, and it is up to the user to decompress any compressed files.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Print-URIs.


Re-Install packages that are already installed and at the newest version.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::ReInstall.


This option defaults to on, use --no-list-cleanup to turn it off. When on, apt-get will automatically manage the contents of /var/lib/apt/lists to ensure that obsolete files are erased. The only reason to turn it off is if you frequently change your source list.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::List-Cleanup.

-t, --target-release, --default-release

This option controls the default input to the policy engine. It creates a default pin at priority 990 using the specified release string. The preferences file may further override this setting. In short, this option lets you have simple control over which distribution packages will be retrieved from. Some common examples might be -t '2.1*' or -t unstable.

Configuration Item: APT::Default-Release; see also the

apt_preferences(5) manual page.


Only perform operations that are "trivial". Logically this can be considered related to --assume-yes. Where --assume-yes will answer yes to any prompt, --trivial-only will answer no.

Configuration Item: fIAPT::Get::Trivial-Only.


If any packages are to be removed apt-get immediately aborts without prompting.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Remove.


Only has meaning for the source command. Indicates that the given source names are not to be mapped through the binary table. This means that if this option is specified, the source command will only accept source package names as arguments, rather than accepting binary package names and looking up the corresponding source package.

Configuration Item: APT::Get::Only-Source.

-h, --help

Show a short usage summary.

-v, --version

Show the program version.

-c, --config-file

Configuration File. Specify a configuration file to use. The program will read the default configuration file and then this configuration file. See apt.conf(5) for syntax information.

-o, --option

Set a Configuration Option. This will set an arbitrary configuration option. The syntax is -o Foo::Bar=bar.



Locations to fetch packages from.

Configuration Item: Dir::Etc::SourceList.


APT configuration file.

Configuration Item: Dir::Etc::Main.


APT configuration file fragments.

Configuration Item: Dir::Etc::Parts.


Version preferences file. This is where you would specify "pinning", i.e. a preference to get certain packages from a separate source or from a different version of a distribution.

Configuration Item: Dir::Etc::Preferences.


Storage area for retrieved package files.

Configuration Item: Dir::Cache::Archives.


Storage area for package files in transit.

Configuration Item: Dir::Cache::Archives (implicit partial).


Storage area for state information for each package resource specified in sources.list(5).

Configuration Item: Dir::State::Lists.


Storage area for state information in transit.

Configuration Item: Dir::State::Lists (implicit partial).

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