Synaptic package manager is available in the Universe repository in Ubuntu. If it is enabled, you may find it in the Software Center:
You may also install Synaptic via command line. Make sure to enable universe repository first:
sudo add-apt-repository universe
And then update the cache (not required in Ubuntu 18.04 and higher versions):
sudo apt update
Now, use the command below to install synaptic package manager:
sudo apt install synaptic
How to use Synaptic package manager
Once installed, you can search for Synaptic in the menu and start it from there:
You can see that the interface is not among the best-looking ones here. Note the color of the checkboxes. White means the package is not installed, green means it is installed.
You can search for an application and click on the checkbox to mark it for installation. It will also highlight packages (in green) that will be installed as dependencies. Hit apply to install the selected packages:
You can see all the installed packages in Ubuntu using Synaptic. You can also choose to remove packages from this view.
You can see packages available in individual repositories by displaying them based on Origin. A good way to see which PPA offers what packages. You can install or remove packages as described above.
Usually, when you update Ubuntu, all the packages are updated at once. With Synaptic, you can easily choose which packages you want to update/upgrade to a newer version.
You can also lock the version of packages so that they don’t get updated along with the system updates.
You can also search for packages using Synaptic. This is like searching for packages using apt-cache search command.
If you think you made the wrong selection, you can click Undo from the Edit menu.
There are plenty more you can do with Synaptic and I cannot cover all the possible usages. I have covered the most common ones here and I leave you to explore it, if you are going to use Synaptic.
Synaptic is not for everyone
If you don’t like Synaptic, you can remove it from the Software Center or using this command in terminal:
sudo apt remove synaptic
There was another lightweight software manager for Ubuntu called AppGrid. It hasn’t been updated in recent times as far as I know.
Synaptic is certainly not for everyone. It lists libraries and packages that you won’t otherwise see in the regular Software Center. If you removed a library that you were not aware of, it may cause issues.
I think that Synaptic is suitable for intermediate to advanced users who want better control over the package management without going the command line way.
What do you say? Have you ever used Synaptic for package management? Do you rely on software center or you just dive into the terminal? Do share your preference in the comment section.