apt-get - Linux


apt-get is a command-line tool used for handling packages on Debian and Ubuntu-based distributions. It is primarily used for installing, updating, and removing packages and managing dependencies. This command is most effective in automating the process of package management through scripts or during system setup and maintenance.


The general syntax for apt-get is:

apt-get [options] command
  • command: This is the operation apt-get should perform, such as install, update, or remove.
  • options: These modify the behavior of the command.


Here are some commonly used options and flags for apt-get:

  • -y, --yes, --assume-yes: Automatically answer “yes” to all prompts; useful for automating installs or updates without user interaction.
  • --no-install-recommends: Do not install recommended packages, only the main dependencies.
  • --only-upgrade: Only upgrade the packages that are already installed.
  • -f, --fix-broken: Attempt to fix broken dependencies.
  • -q, --quiet: Minimal output; increasing the level (-qq) silences output except for error messages.
  • -m, --ignore-missing, --fix-missing: Ignore missing packages; if packages cannot be retrieved, fail silently.
  • -u, --show-upgraded: Show a list of upgraded packages as part of the upgrade process.


  1. Updating Package List

    sudo apt-get update

    Fetches the list of available updates from configured sources.

  2. Installing a Package

    sudo apt-get install nginx

    Installs the nginx package.

  3. Upgrading All Packages

    sudo apt-get upgrade

    Upgrades all the installed packages to their latest versions.

  4. Removing a Package

    sudo apt-get remove nginx

    Removes the nginx package but leaves configuration files.

  5. Purging a Package

    sudo apt-get purge nginx

    Removes the nginx package along with its configuration files.

Common Issues

  1. Failed Dependencies: Sometimes, installing or upgrading packages may fail due to unmet dependencies. Running sudo apt-get -f install can often resolve these issues.

  2. Unable to locate package: This error occurs if the package list is outdated or the package does not exist. Update the package list using sudo apt-get update, or check for the correct package name.

  3. GPG error: NO_PUBKEY: This happens if you are missing a GPG key required by one of the repositories. Resolve this by adding the missing GPG key.


Combine apt-get with other commands for more complex tasks:

  • Update system silently and log the output:

    sudo apt-get update -qq > /path/to/log/file
  • Clean up downloaded package files:

    sudo apt-get clean
  • apt-cache: Used to query or search the package cache.
  • dpkg: Lower-level package manager for Debian-based systems.

These links and tools provide further depth into apt-get usage, helping users to use and integrate it effectively into their system management practices.