04. Commands with aptitude

Want a more user-friendly interface to managing your packages? No problem! We can do most all commands performed with apt-get and apt-cache with the aptitude interface. This uses a menu-driven, text-based application ran within the terminal, and serves as a front-end interface to the APT tool. Most commands are run with a single, lowercase letters.

Launching aptitude

To launch aptitude, simply type aptitude. You may need to install it by typing sudo apt-get install aptitude.

Aptitude command on Linux Command line

You'll first notice that the display is split into two panels - the top displaying packages, and the bottom describing the highlighted region.

Basic commands

Here is a list of the most basic commands to get you started:

arrow keys
Preview and confirm actions
Accept an action
Reject an action

Updating the cache

Simply hit the u key to update the cache.

Installing packages

  1. Hover over the Not Installed Packages section.
  2. Move into the folder by pressing the ENTER key.
  3. Position your cursor over to the package you want and press the + key.
  4. Package entry will turn green if successfully marked for installation.
  5. Press g to get a list of package actions.
  6. Press g again to download and install the package.

Removing packages

  1. Navigate to the installed packages category by using the keyboard arrow keys and hit ENTER.
  2. Highlight the desired package and press -.
  3. Package entry will turn pink if it has been successfully marked for removal.
  4. Press g to see a list of package actions, and press g again to remove the package.

Upgrading packages

  1. Press the U key to mark all packages with updates.
  2. Press g and you'll obtain a list of package actions.
  3. Press g again to download and install the new updated package contents.
  4. Press ENTER to return to the menu.

Package attributes

Installed package.
A package that is not installed, but its configuration is on system.
Purged from system.
Virtual package.
Broken package, meaning you have not installed its dependencies.
Unpacked files, but package not yet configured.
Half-configured, configuration failed and rquires to fix.
Half-installed, removal failed and requires fix.


To exit the interface, press q and confirm.

Using aptitude on the command line

Aptitude can also perform several command line tasks that are identical to apt-get.

Install one or more packages.
Updates the list of available packages from apt sources.
Conservative about removing packages or installing new ones. so it may fail.
Less conservative. Removes and installs packages as necessary. May break software in the process.
Searches database for packages matching specified name.
Displays detailed information about on or more packages.
Removes all previously downloaded .deb files from the package cache.
Removes already downloaded packages that are no longer available.
Removes all downloaded packages.
Display help.

Want to avoid becoming a code monkey?

The Pragramatic Programmer

Want to avoid becoming a code monkey? Try Good Practice

The Pragmatic Programmer illustrates the best practices and major pitfalls of many different aspects of software development.Whether you're a new coder, an experienced programmer, or a manager responsible for software projects, use these lessons daily, and you'll quickly see improvements in personal productivity, accuracy, and job satisfaction.

$ Check price
49.9949.99Amazon 4.5 logo(338+ reviews)

More Good Practice resources

Take your Linux skills to the next level!

The Linux Command Line

Take your Linux skills to the next level! Try Linux & UNIX

The Linux Command Line takes you from your very first terminal keystrokes to writing full programs in Bash, the most popular Linux shell. Along the way you'll learn the timeless skills handed down by generations of gray-bearded, mouse-shunning gurus: file navigation, environment configuration, command chaining, pattern matching with regular expressions, and more.

$ Check price
39.9539.95Amazon 4.5 logo(274+ reviews)

More Linux & UNIX resources