With thousands of free Linux apps, it’s easy to lose track of what you once installed but no longer use. Here’s how to list installed applications in the major Linux families.
The app graveyard
The choice of free and open source applications available to Linux users is staggering. For a newcomer to Linux it can be overwhelming. But it’s also part of the fun. If you have a particular need, you look for a piece of software to address that need. If you don’t get along with the one you meet, no problem. There are probably dozens more that you can try until you find one that meets all your requirements.
If you’re not scrupulous about uninstalling the ones you know you won’t use, they’ll sit on your system taking up hard drive space. If you’re a programmer, you’ll also have unused toolkits and libraries scattered around your computer. On a desktop, with today’s reasonably cheap high-capacity drives, that might not be much of a problem in and of itself. In laptops, it is more of a concern due to their smaller storage capacities.
But whether or not you have free hard drive space, accumulating unused software means software updates will take longer because you’re updating all those unused apps along with the ones you actually use. System images and other backups will be larger than necessary, take longer to complete, and consume more backup media.
There is also the possibility of incompatibilities between the components of the installed and forgotten applications and the new ones that you try to install.
To handle the situation, the obvious first step is to find out what is installed. Once you know what, you can go through the list and decide what stays and what goes. The way to find out what has been installed varies from one Linux distribution to another. RedHat-derived distributions use the
dnf package manager, use of distributions derived from Debian
apt and Arch-based distributions use
Other distribution-independent installation methods exist, such as
flatpak that we should also consider.
List of applications installed with dnf
Fedora is the most successful of the RedHat-derived desktop distributions. We’ll use that to discuss the list of installed apps with the
dnf packaging manager.
Listing installed packages is very simple.
dnf list installed
This produces an avalanche of information.
To see how many packages were listed, we can pass the output through
-l (lines) option.
this tells us
dnf found 1,968 packages installed. To make the output more manageable, you can pipe it to
grepand search for packages of interest.
dnf list installed | grep terminal
You can also pipe the output to
less and use the search function inside
less to find what you are looking for.
If you see a package in the list that you want more information about, which is a good idea if you’re considering removing it, you can use the
dnf info domain.
You must provide the package name without the platform architecture details. For example, to see the details of the “gnome-terminal.x86_64” package, you would type:
dnf info gnome-terminal
RELATED: What’s New in Fedora 36
List of applications installed with apt
apt command is the replacement for the above
apt-get domain. It is the command line tool for the Debian distribution and the many distributions that have sprung from it, like the entire Ubuntu family of distributions.
To see the list of installed packages, use this command:
apt list --installed
As expected, the output is long and passes quickly.
To see how many inputs there are, we can pipe
wclike we did before.
apt list --installed | wc -l
To find packages of interest, we can use
grep and part of the name or subject that interests us.
apt list --installed | grep xfonts
To investigate a single packet, use the
apt show command with the package name.
apt show xml-core
RELATED: apt vs apt-get: What’s the difference in Linux?
List of applications installed with pacman
pacman The package manager is used in Arch Linux and its derivatives, such as Manjaro and EndeavourOS. To list packages using
pacman we need to use the
-Q (query) option.
The list of packages is displayed in the terminal window.
Installing a single application is likely to cause multiple packages to be installed due to unsatisfied dependencies. If the application requires a particular library and it is not present on your computer, the installation will provide it. Similarly, uninstalling an app can cause multiple packages to be removed. So the number of apps is not the same as the number of packages.
To count installed packages, we pipe the output through
wc and use the
-l (lines) option, as before.
pacman -Q | wc -l
-i The (info) option allows us to see the details of a package.
pacman -Qi bash
-i The twice option may provide a bit more information, if any is available.
pacman -Qii bash
In this case, there are some extra lines at the bottom of the list that show where the “.bash_profile” and “.bash_logout” template files are located.
RELATED: Why I switched from Ubuntu to Manjaro Linux
List of applications installed with flatpak
There are ways to install applications that are distribution-independent. They are designed to be universal package managers. They install sandboxed versions of applications, including any dependencies they have. This makes it easy to install different versions of an application without having to worry about incompatibilities or cross-contamination from one version to another.
From a software developer’s perspective, using a universal package manager means they only have to package their app once and have all distributions covered.
flatpak system is one of the two most popular universal installers. if you have used
flatpak on your computer, you can still list installed applications.
This lists the installed applications and the associated runtimes that have been installed to satisfy those applications’ dependencies. To view only apps, add the
flatpak list --app
To view the details of an individual application, use the
info command and the Application ID of the package, not the name of the application.
flatpak info org.blender.Blender
List of applications installed with plugin
The other popular universal package manager is called
snap. It is a canon initiative. It is used by default in the Ubuntu software application in recent versions of Ubuntu and
snap It can also be installed on other distributions.
To list the applications that have been installed using
snapuse this command.
To view details for a single app, use the snapshot info command and the app name.
snap info firefox
RELATED: How to work with Snap packages on Linux
Make informed decisions
pacman has options that automatically find and remove orphaned and unneeded packages. But they won’t find old packages that you don’t use anymore. That requires human intervention and the knowledge of what requires uninstall. That’s where these helpful commands come in.
After freeing up some space, you may be interested in learning how to install Android apps on your Linux device.