If you've ever used Debian Linux or one of the many Linux distributions that were derived from it, such as Ubuntu, you may have seen the
apt-get commands sprinkled throughout the distro's documentation.
At surface level, these commands seem interchangeable, and a lot of documentation or online guides throw them around as if they are. However, there are some key differences between the two and we have some recommendations about which one you should be using. In this guide, we'll explain the differences and give some examples for both commands. Read on to learn about the specific uses for each command and which one is better for you to use.In this tutorial you will learn:
- What distros use apt and apt-get?
- What is the difference between apt and apt-get?
- Command examples for apt and apt-get
|Category||Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used|
|System||Debian Linux and most derivatives|
|Other||Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the |
|Conventions|| # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of |
What distros use apt and apt-get?
Debian and Ubuntu are probably the most notable Linux distros that use APT (Advanced Package Tool) software which contains the
apt-get commands, among others, that you are used to seeing. There are a lot of other distros that are based on Debian, and most of those also use APT.
When describing the differences between these two commands, mileage may vary depending on which distro you're using. For example, Linux Mint has its own variation of the
apt command, which is actually just a wrapper that utilizes
apt-get and includes some additional functionality. Other distro developers may come up with their own tweaks, so when we're discussing
apt-get in this article, we're specifically talking about its implementation on Debian and Ubuntu.
What is the difference between apt and apt-get?
To put it simply,
apt is the command meant for the Linux user, and
apt-get is the command meant for system use. In technical terms, this means that
apt provides a high level interface for package management and
apt-get provides a low level interface.
The two commands basically perform the same functions, but
apt is easier to use and has some user friendly features, like a status bar to show the progress as packages are installed. Since
apt is designed for a Linux user, it doesn't cause much fuss when developers update it or introduce their own implementations of it. Only the user is affected. On the other hand,
apt-get receives fewer updates and needs to remain backward compatible. System functions and scripts rely on the predictability of
So, that explains why both commands are necessary. Confusion arises because the commands look and function mostly the same, and
apt was only introduced on Ubuntu in 2014. You'll still find old documentation and guides that tell the user to execute
apt-get commands to install packages, since that's what was used. Furthermore, some users from back then are still stuck in that habit and may not have migrated over to using
As an average Linux user, you should use
apt when you're installing packages or updating your system, etc. If you're a developer,
apt-get is what you'll use in the scripts or programs you create.
Command examples for apt and apt-get
As you can see from the table below, the two commands mostly do the same thing but have a slightly different syntax.
apt combines the functions from both
apt-cache, as well as providing a more convenient user interface and additional command line options.
|apt||apt-get / apt-cache||Description|
|apt install||apt-get install||Install a package|
|apt update||apt-get update||Update all repository info|
|apt upgrade||apt-get upgrade||Update all installed packages|
|apt autoremove||apt-get autoremove||Remove packages that are no longer needed|
|apt remove||apt-get remove||Remove an installed package|
|apt purge||apt-get purge||Remove an installed package and delete configuration files|
|apt search||apt-cache search||Seach repositories for a package|
|apt show||apt-cache show||Show details for a package|
These are just the most common ones. You can see more by checking the man pages for each command:
$ man apt AND $ man apt-get
apt-get is required to remain backward compatible and predictable, the commands above will likely never change. On the other hand,
apt is continually developed. New options or changes may occur to
apt in the future, especially as different distros add their own changes to it.
In this guide, we learned about the differences between
apt-get. To summarize,
apt is the user-side replacement for
apt-get. Both commands are relevant and will continue to exist, since one is ideal for high level functions and the other one for low level.