Linux server administration/apt

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Advanced Package Tool, or APT, is a free software user interface that works with core libraries to handle the installation and removal of software on Debian, Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. Main Advanced Package Tool (APT) binaries are: apt, apt-get and apt-cache

Basic apt-get commands[edit]

  • Installing: apt install PACKAGE_NAME
  • apt show PACKAGE_NAME or aptitude show PACKAGE_NAME
  • apt policy PACKAGE_NAME [1] Provides source repository for a given package.
  • apt-get update && apt-get upgrade
  • Showing pending to update packages: apt-get upgrade --dry-run or apt-get upgrade -s
    • /usr/lib/update-notifier/apt-check --human-readable

Basic apt-cache commands[edit]

  • apt-cache search
  • apt-cache policy[2] List source repository configured included priorities of each source.
  • apt-cache showpkg PACKAGE_NAME. See also: apt show PACKAGE_NAMEdpkg -s PACKAGE_NAME

Relevant files[edit]

  • /etc/apt/sources.list[3]: Locations to fetch packages from.
  • /etc/apt/sources.list.d/: Additional source list fragments.


  • To collect information about what installed packages can be upgraded:
    • apt update
    • apt list --upgradable
    • apt-get upgrade --dry-run or apt-get upgrade -s
    • apt update && apt-upgrade
  • To upgrade all installed packages: apt upgrade
  • apt dist-upgrade (see also do-release-upgrade)
  • Automatic updates

Holding packages[edit]

To avoid packages from being upgrade when upgrading use apt-mark command

  • apt-mark hold PACKAGE_NAME
  • apt-mark unhold PACKAGE_NAME
  • apt-mark showhold[4]

Single upgrade[edit]

  • To upgrade only a package: apt-get install --only-upgrade PACKAGE_NAME


  1. Read differences between apt upgrade and apt dist-upgrade:
  2. Read Linux server administration/apt/Automatic updates
  3. Install software-properties-common package to have availableapt-add-repository command

See Also[edit]