Section: apt-get (8)
Updated: 14 Jun 2006
apt-get - APT package handling utility - command-line interface
apt-get [options] [-o config=string] [-c=cfgfile] command [pkg]
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
Note that source packages are not tracked like binary packages, they exist
only in the current directory and are similar to downloading source tar
- 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
Clears out the local repository of retrieved package files. It removes
everything but the lock file from /var/cache/apt/archives/ and
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
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
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
Configuration Item: APT::Get::Assume-Yes.
- -u, --show-upgraded
Show upgraded packages. Print out a list of all packages that are to be
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
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
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
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
Configuration Item: Dir::State::Lists.
Storage area for state information in transit.
Configuration Item: Dir::State::Lists (implicit partial).
returns zero on normal operation, decimal 100 on error.
Reporting bugs in APT-RPM is best done in the APT-RPM mailinglist at
Maintainer and contributor information can be found in the credits page