The Difference Between Apt and Apt-get on Ubuntu

Ubuntu 16.04 is out now, and it’s packed with exciting new changes. You have snap packages, BSD’s popular file system – ZFS  – and other things. One thing you might not have heard about, as little things tend to get lost in the fray, is Apt.

What’s Apt? It’s a new package manager for Ubuntu that is poised to take over for “Apt-get.” It’s built to be more efficient, more secure, and more user friendly. So what is Canonical thinking by introducing Apt? Are there any real differences between Apt and Apt-get? Let’s find out!

Apt was introduced in 16.04 to simplify the package manager and to merge multiple commands into one single command. The functions from “apt-get” have been taken and have been created to function in similar ways in Apt.

Despite the fact that these new Apt commands are created to function similar to the old Apt-get commands, these new commands are not calling the old ones. They’re completely new – fresh commands to interact with packages.

The main reason for this introduction of Apt is at its core: usability. Whether people want it to admit it or not, Apt-get is an old tool, and its usability is questionable at best. Apt has been re-designed from the ground up to be much more efficient, and according to the Apt manual, is designed to “be pleasant for end users.”

So what’s the difference between the two? Well, for starters, you no longer need to type sudo apt-get autoremove, to clear your package cache. You also don’t need to type sudo apt-cache search to find a package.


Instead, these commands have been replaced with apt search and apt remove. This is mostly the main difference Apt has: taking commands from Apt-get, etc., that are spread out and bring them together into one concise area.


This isn’t the only difference, though. Apt also introduces pretty progress bars for installing software. Apt also has little additions that make it smarter than its predecessor. For example: when you update the software sources with Apt-get, you don’t get an easy way to list pending updates. With Apt, just run sudo apt update, then apt list --upgradable. Little things like this add to the differences.


They’ve also added some fancy colors and overall just made the whole way packages are manipulated and installed a faster, much-easier-to-use experience. Canonical isn’t ripping out Apt-get yet, but when they do, it’ll be a welcome change.

Here’s a list of the new Apt commands, taken directly from --help in the terminal. These commands are very similar to apt-get commands but designed to be streamlined.


Basic commands:

  • list – list packages based on package names
  • search – search in package descriptions
  • show – show package details
  • update – update list of available packages
  • install – install packages
  • remove – remove packages
  • upgrade – upgrade the system by installing/upgrading packages
  • full-upgrade – upgrade the system by removing/installing/upgrading packages
  • edit-sources – edit the source information file

Looking for more information on Apt? Open your terminal and type man apt. This will print out the entire manual related to apt –  perfect for studying if you’re looking to learn all about this new package manager Ubuntu has introduced.

Apt-get is a tried and true piece of software. It’s been around for a very long time and has gotten both Debian and Ubuntu users through a lot of releases. It’s always been there when you needed to install something, update your software, or even just clean up your software sources on your system.

Still, it’s getting old. The package manager just isn’t up to snuff anymore, and that’s why it’s slowly being replaced with Apt in Ubuntu soon enough. The developers of Ubuntu realize they need to update their package manager for the modern era: make it faster, make it simpler, make it more elegant, and make it more secure.

Do you think Canonical introducing Apt is a good thing? Tell us why or why not below!

Image Credit: muylinux