Synaptic Package Manager was once the default package manager for almost all Debian-based Linux distributions. To this day, it remains one of the most versatile package managers. Although it remains dated, many users still prefer it due to its simplicity.
In this tutorial, we show you how to install and use Synaptic Package Manager on Linux.
Why use Synaptic Package Manager?
Synaptic Package Manager is a graphical package manager based on Advanced Package Tool (APT). It is one of the most popular GUIs for the APT package management system used in Debian and its derivatives.
Synaptic Package Manager is a great alternative to Ubuntu Software Center, or any similar software center, for two reasons. First, Synaptic gives you access to all the software you’ll find in your software center, plus additional software. Second, it gives you much more control over what you install on your computer. Choose to install specific versions of packages, select dependencies to install, etc.
How to install Synaptic Package Manager
For this guide, we are installing Synaptic Package Manager on Kali Linux, although the steps will also work for all Debian-based Linux distributions. All you need is a fresh Kali Linux installation, an active internet connection, and basic knowledge of Linux commands. If you are new to the terminal, this Linux Command Line Cheat Sheet is all you need.
Step 1: Update your repositories
- Launch the terminal by holding CTRL + Other + J. You can also go to the app finder and launch the terminal.
- Update your repositories by entering this command:
Enter your password if required.
- Update your packages using this command:
The application may ask you to enter Yes or No. Type Yes to let the process continue.
Step 2: Install Synaptic Package Manager
- Enter this command to install 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 part of Synaptic’s core functionality. You can also upgrade your system, view installed packages, edit the list of repositories used, and repair broken package dependencies.
Installing new packages
Synaptic Package Manager offers one of the easiest ways to install new packages. (Use these methods to determine if a package is already installed.)
- Launch the Synaptic Package Manager from the Applications menu.
- Click “Search” to find the package you want to install.
- Enter the name of the package you want to install. For illustrative purposes, we install BrewTarget, a simple graphing calculator for estimating ingredients when brewing beer.
- Click “Search” to start the search. The app will list potential search results. Right-click on the package you want 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 a pop-up window saying “Changes applied” will appear.
Like the installation process, removing packages is also quite simple with the Synaptic Package Manager.
- Under the Status tab, choose the “Installed” option. This will show all installed packages.
- Scroll to the package you want to uninstall. Right-click on it and select “Mark for deletion”.
- Click “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.
- The first step to upgrading all your packages using Synaptic is to click the “Reload” button. Essentially this button reloads all the package information.
- Click “Mark all upgrades”.
- The package manager will ask you if you want to apply the changes. Click “Apply”. The upgrade process will take between a few seconds and half an hour, depending on your internet speed and the size of the update.
Repair broken dependencies
Compared to the tasks described above, this is the simplest.
- In the Edit tab, select “Fix broken packages”.
Synaptic Package Manager will automatically repair all broken dependencies. If successful, you should get a “Dependency issues successfully resolved” 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 user to keep track of all applications on your computer. It also helps you install, upgrade, and remove software. If your package manager isn’t working, you’ll be stuck with whatever software you have until you fix the problem.
What are the most popular frontends 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 an APK-based graphical manager. If you are unfamiliar with the Linux terminal, use this tool.
Aptitude is another interactive tool that works in semi-graphical mode. This APT interface is best designed for administrators who are very familiar with package management in Linux.
How to launch Synaptic Package Manager in terminal?
You can launch Synaptic Package Manager by running this command:
If the application does not launch, there is a problem with your Synaptic installation or you did not install the application.
All screenshots by Allan Ngetich.
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