Synaptic Package Manager was once the default package manager for nearly all Debian-based Linux distributions. To date, it remains one of the most versatile package managers. Although it remains dated, many users still prefer it because of its simplicity.
In this tutorial, we show you how to install and use Synaptic Package Manager on Linux.
Why Use Synaptic Package Manager?
The Synaptic Package Manager is a graphical package manager based on Advanced Package Tool (APT). It is one of the most popular graphical front-ends for the APT package management system used in Debian and its derivatives.
Synaptic Package Manager is a great alternative to the Ubuntu Software Center, or any similar software center, for two reasons. First, Synaptic gives you access to all the software that you would find in your software center, plus extra software. Second, it gives you much more control over what you install on your computer. Choose to install specific versions of packages, select which dependencies should be installed, and more.
Tip: if your Ubuntu Software Center is not working, we have the fixes here.
How to Install Synaptic Package Manager
For this guide, we are installing Synaptic Package Manager on Kali Linux, though the steps will work for all Debian-based Linux distros too. All you need is a fresh installation of Kali Linux, an active Internet connection, and basic knowledge on Linux commands. If you are new to the terminal, this Linux commandline cheatsheet is all you need.
Step 1: Update Your Repositories
- Launch the terminal by holding Ctrl + Alt + T. Alternatively, you can go to the application finder and launch the terminal.
- Update your repositories by typing in this command:
sudo apt-get update
Enter your password if you are required to.
- Upgrade your packages using this command:
sudo apt-get upgrade
The application may ask you to enter Yes or No. Type Y to let the process proceed.
Step 2: Installing Synaptic Package Manager
- Enter this command to install the Synaptic Package Manager:
sudo apt-get install synaptic
- Once the installation is complete, launch Synaptic Package Manager from the Applications menu. When prompted, enter your password to authenticate the app.
You have successfully installed Synaptic Package Manager.
Using Synaptic Package Manager
Installing, removing and upgrading packages are some of the basic capabilities of Synaptic. You can also upgrade your system, view installed packages, edit the list of used repositories and fix broken package dependencies.
Installing New Packages
Synaptic Package Manager offers one of the easiest ways to install new packages. (Make use of these methods to determine if a package is already installed.)
- Launch the Synaptic Package Manager from the Applications menu.
- Click on “Search” to search for the package you wish to install.
- Enter the name of the package you want to install. For illustration purposes, we are installing BrewTarget, a simple GUI calculator for estimating ingredients when brewing beer.
- Click on “Search” to initiate the search. The app will list potential search results. Right-click on the package you wish to install and select “Mark for Installation.” Click “Apply.”
- You will be asked to confirm that you want to apply the marked changes. Click “Apply.”
The installation will take a few minutes, then you will be presented with a pop-up that says, “Changes applied.”
Like the installation process, removing packages is also pretty simple with the Synaptic Package Manager.
- Under the Status Tab, choose the “Installed” option. This will display all installed packages.
- Scroll over to the package you wish to uninstall. Right-click it and select “Mark for Removal.”
- Click on “Apply.”
- Synaptic will ask you to confirm that you want to apply the changes. Click “Apply.”
The process will take less than a minute, and you will receive a success message.
Tip: check out these tools to clean up your Linux system, including removing residual files after packages are uninstalled.
- The first step to upgrading all of your packages using Synaptic is to click on the “Reload” button. Essentially, this button reloads all package information.
- Click on “Mark All Upgrades.”
- The package manager will ask whether you want to apply the changes. Click “Apply.” The upgrading process will take anywhere between a few seconds to half an hour, depending on your Internet speed and update size.
Fixing Broken Dependencies
Compared to the tasks outlined above, this is the simplest.
- On the Edit tab, select “Fix Broken Packages.”
Synaptic Package Manager will automatically fix all broken dependencies. If successful, you should get a “Successfully fixed dependency problems” at the bottom of Synaptic’s window.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need a package manager?
A package manager is a very important tool in any operating system. It helps the user keep track of all the applications on your computer. It also helps you install, upgrade and remove software. If your package manager does not work, you will be stuck with the software you have until you resolve the issue.
What are some of the most popular front-ends for the APT package management system?
There are two popular front-ends for the Advanced Package Tool: Synaptic Package Manager and Aptitude. Synaptic Package Manager is a graphical manager based on APK. If you are not familiar with the Linux terminal, use this tool.
Aptitude is another interactive tool that runs in a semi-graphical mode. This APT front-end is best designed for admins who are very knowledgable of package management in Linux.
How do I launch Synaptic Package Manager in terminal?
You can launch Synaptic Package Manager by running this command:
If the app does not launch, there is an issue with your Synaptic installation or you do not have the app installed.
All screenshots by Allan Ngetich.
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