Package management systems are essential in any Linux environment, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have room for improvement. Learning about these 4 hidden features can make your life a lot easier.
The package management system is an integral part of any Linux distribution. It provides powerful software installation capabilities with the added security of package isolation. But it doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are many features that are hidden or unknown to most users, which makes their lives difficult when they need them the most. Here are four features that will make your life less stressful and more productive with a package management system.
How to Use Synaptic Package Manager
One such hidden feature is the Synaptic Package Manager (SPM). This great feature lets you find and install software with a simple graphical interface. And it’s even better because it allows you to do this from the command line, which can be really useful if you’re working in a terminal window.
If you’re not familiar with how to use SPM, check out the video below:
Search for Packages
Before you can install any package with your package management system, you first need to find out what packages are available. Luckily, most programs have easy-to-use search functions that will help you determine what is available. With this feature, you can quickly find the packages that are relevant to your current needs without having to search through everything else.
Install Packages Without Leaving Your Command Line
One of the less known features of package managers is that they can be used without leaving your command line. The commands are simple and straight forward, so it makes it easy to install packages without even having to open up a graphical interface. If you know the name of the package you want to install, you just need to enter “sudo apt-get install
If you want to remove a package, but are afraid of removing the wrong one, you can clear the entire list of packages installed with your package management system. All you have to do is type this command:
sudo apt-get autoremove
This will remove any packages that are not currently in use. This helps clean up your system and ensures that no packages are taking up space unnecessarily. This is especially useful for those that are using older versions of Linux distributions or package management systems.
Re-Install Defaults without Installing the Whole System
When you install a package that is broken or doesn’t work, it may be difficult to uninstall the offending package. A new user may not know how to revert back to the original configuration. That’s where this hidden feature comes into play.
The –reconfigure flag is often overlooked by many users. It allows you to reconfigure a package that has been installed, but not configured properly. This means you won’t have to go through the process of installing an entire system again if you simply want to change one package’s configuration. This is incredibly handy for those who are new at system administration and don’t know their way around yet.
Customize Your PPA Repositories
Some people might not know this, but you can customize the PPA repositories. For example, say you want to set up a PPA for a particular project and you’d like all of your coworkers to use it. You could do so by creating an account on Launchpad and adding it as your Custom Package Repository.
You’ll need to set up the login details on the package management system first. Once you have, follow these steps:
1) Find the section for “Other Software” in Preferences > Package Sources
2) Click the ‘Add’ button at the top of that section
3) Fill out the form with the necessary information. Use your Launchpad username as both your User Name and Organization name
Once that’s done, you’re all set! All of your coworkers will now be able to use this custom repository for installation purposes.
Keep Your Repositories Up-to-date.
One of the hidden features that are under-utilized is the ability to keep your repositories up-to-date. If you are not running a distribution with periodic package updates, this is an important feature to take advantage of. Keeping your repositories up-to-date can make it easier for you to find packages when you need them. You will also be able to install new or updated software with ease.