Use the lightweight Apt package manager Synaptic in Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux distributions

This week’s open source software highlight is Synaptic. Understand what this good old package manager can do, but modern software managers cannot.

What is Synaptic Package Manager?

Synaptic Is a lightweight GUI front end apt package management system Used in Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint and many other Debian/Ubuntu based distributions.

Basically, using Synaptic, you can use the apt-get command to complete all operations in the terminal.

There was a time when Synaptic was the default graphical software manager in almost all Debian-based Linux distributions. It is considered to be an easy-to-use and easy-to-use way of managing applications.

Things have changed with modern software manager tools GNOME software with KDE found Proposed a more modern and intuitive user interface. These software managers have a better interface to display package information in a more friendly way through thumbnails, ratings and comments.

Ultimately, Synaptic is limited to most lightweight Linux distributions.

No, of course, not most of the time.

But Synaptic is still much more powerful than GNOME Software. Remember, apt is basically the front end of the GUI, which means it can (almost) do everything you do with the apt command in the terminal.

For example, if you want to prevent specific packages from being updated in Ubuntu, you can do it in Synaptic, but not in the GNOME/Ubuntu Software Center.

Lock package version synapse

In addition, I noticed some problems with the software center in Ubuntu 20.04. It is slow to load, slow to search for software, and full of fast apps (not everyone likes it).

Synaptic is still one of the lightweight applications that can be used in Ubuntu, which can slightly speed up the system.

This is a summary of what you can do with Synaptic:

  • Update package cache
  • Upgrade the entire system
  • Management package repository
  • Search packages by name, description, maintainer, version, dependencies, etc.
  • List packages by section, status (installed), original or more
  • Sort packages by name, status, size or version
  • Get information about packaging
  • Lock package version
  • Install specific versions of packages

You can explore more functions by yourself.

Synaptic package manager is available in Ubuntu’s Universe repository. If it is enabled, you can find it in the Software Center:

Synaptic in the Ubuntu Software CenterSynaptic in the Ubuntu Software Center

You can also install Synaptic from the command line. Make sure to enable the Universe repository first:

sudo add-apt-repository univers

Then update the cache (not required in Ubuntu 18.04 and later):

sudo apt update

Now, install the Synaptic Package Manager using the following command:

sudo apt install synaptic

That’s it.

After the installation is complete, you can search for Synaptic in the menu and then launch it from there:

Synaptic Package Manager Ubuntu

You can see that the interface does not look best here. Note the color of the check box. White indicates that the software package is not installed, and green indicates that the software package is installed.

Synaptic interface

You can search for the application, and then click the check box to mark it for installation. It will also highlight the packages (green) that will be installed as dependencies. Click Apply to install the selected package:

Install packages via Synaptic

You can use Synaptic to view all installed packages in Ubuntu. You can also choose to remove the software package from this view.

Use Synaptic Package Manager to remove packages in Ubuntu Linux

By displaying them based on the source, you can view the software packages available in each repository. A good way to see which packages are provided by which PPA. You can install or remove packages as described above.

View Synaptic packages by repository

Normally, when you update Ubuntu, all packages are updated immediately. With Synaptic, you can easily select packages to update/upgrade to a newer version.

Upgrade packages using Synaptic package manager

You can also lock the versions of software packages so that they are not updated with system updates.

Lock package version synapse

You can also use Synaptic to search for packages. This is like using the apt-cache search command to search for packages.

Synapse search results

If you think the selection was wrong, you can click Undo from the Edit menu.

You can use Synaptic to do more, but I cannot cover all possible usages. If you want to use Synaptic, I have introduced the most common methods here, and I will let you continue exploring.

If you do not like Synaptic, you can delete it from the software center, or you can use the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt remove synaptic

There is also a lightweight software manager on Ubuntu called AppGrid. As far as I know, it has not been updated recently.

Synapse is definitely not for everyone. It lists libraries and software packages that you cannot see in the regular software center. If you delete a library that you don’t know, it may cause problems.

I think Synaptic is suitable for middle-to-advanced users who want to better control package management without using the command line.

what did you say? Have you ever used Synaptic for package management? Did you reply in the software center or just dive into the terminal? Please share your preferences in the comments section.

Use the lightweight Apt package manager Synaptic in Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux distributions