apt vs apt-get: Key Differences That You Should Know About

2 min

Here’s a brief list of items that explains the comparison of apt vs apt-get commands in Debian and Ubuntu Linux.

If you have a brief idea of Linux or Ubuntu, you must have come across “sudo apt” or “sudo apt-get”. Those already familiar with Linux or Ubuntu know that apt is a command you run to install the software in Debian-based distros.

This wiki article explains some of the trivia & differences between apt and apt-get.

apt vs apt-get command: The Differences

The apt and apt-get are both package management tools in a nutshell. They are used to install, update, and remove packages on a Debian-based Linux system such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, elementary OS, etc.

Here are some key differences between apt and apt-get:

Syntax: apt has a more user-friendly syntax than apt-get. For example, to install a package with apt, you can use the following command:

apt install package-name

To do the same thing with apt-get, you would use the following command:

apt-get install package-name
apt and apt-get - almost same command
apt and apt-get – almost same command

Options: Being the modern version, apt has a larger number of options and subcommands than apt-get, which makes it more flexible and powerful. For example, apt has options for showing detailed package information, upgrading all installed packages, and cleaning up the local cache of downloaded packages.

Compatibility: apt is the newer version of apt-get, and it is intended to be a replacement for apt-get and other older tools, such as dpkg and aptitude. However, apt-get is still included in most modern versions of Ubuntu for compatibility reasons, and it is still widely used in scripts and documentation.

Automatic conflict resolution: apt includes advanced dependency resolution capabilities that allow it to resolve conflicts when installing packages automatically. apt-get, on the other hand, does not have this capability and may fail if there are conflicting dependencies.

Download only: Both apt and apt-get have the ability to download packages without installing them. However, apt has a dedicated download subcommand for this purpose, while apt-get uses the --download-only flag.

Interactive mode: apt has an interactive mode that allows you to review and confirm changes before they are applied. This can be useful when installing multiple packages at once or making other significant changes to the system. apt-get does not have an equivalent interactive mode.

Verbosity: Both apt and apt-get have options for increasing the verbosity of their output. However, apt has a dedicated --verbose flag, while apt-get uses the -V flag.

Configuration files: apt and apt-get use different configuration files to store settings, such as the list of package repositories and proxy server information. apt uses the /etc/apt/apt.conf and /etc/apt/apt.conf.d directories. And apt-get only uses the /etc/apt/apt.conf.d directory.

Wrapper scripts: apt is implemented as a wrapper script that invokes several underlying tools, such as apt-cache and dpkg. On the other hand, apt-get is a standalone program written in C.

Some Trivia of apt and apt-get

  • apt is an abbreviation for “Advanced Packaging Tool”. It was introduced in Debian 3.0 (Woody) in 2002 as a replacement for the older dpkg, and apt-get tools.
  • Likewise, apt-get stands for “Advanced Packaging Tool Get”. It was the original package manager for Debian and was introduced in 1996.
  • The apt wrapper script was written in Python, while apt-get is written in C.
  • Both apt and apt-get use the dpkg utility to install and manage packages on the system. dpkg is a low-level tool that is used to manipulate individual package files. Whereas, apt and apt-get handle tasks such as resolving dependencies and interacting with remote repos.

Wrapping Up

In summary, apt is the recommended tool for interacting with the package management system on Ubuntu, and it offers a more user-friendly and powerful interface compared to apt-get. However, apt-get is still available and can be used for many of the same tasks.


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