Learn what this good old package manager can do that the modern software managers cannot.
What is Synaptic package manager?
Synaptic is a lightweight GUI front end to apt package management system used in Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and many other Debian/Ubuntu-based distributions.
Basically, everything that you can do using the apt-get commands in the terminal can be achieved with Synaptic.
There was a time when Synaptic was the default graphical software manager on almost all Debian-based Linux distributions. It was considered to be a user-friendly, easy to use way of managing applications.
Things changed as modern software management tools like GNOME Software and KDE Discover came up with a more modern and intuitive UI. These software managers have a better interface, display the package information in a more friendly way with thumbnails, ratings, and reviews.
Eventually, Synaptic got confined to mostly lightweight Linux distributions.
Why would you use an ‘ancient’ software like Synaptic package manager?
You don’t have to. Not most of the time, of course.
But Synaptic is still a lot versatile than the likes of GNOME Software. Remember, it is basically GUI front end to apt which means it can do (almost) everything you do with apt commands in the terminal.
For example, if you want to prevent the update of a specific package in Ubuntu, you can do that in Synaptic but not in GNOME/Ubuntu Software Center.
Also, I have noticed some issues with the Software Center in Ubuntu 20.04. It’s slow to load, it’s slow when searching for software and it is full of snap application (that not everyone prefers).
Synaptic is also one of the lightweight applications you can use in Ubuntu to speed up your system a bit.
Synaptic package manager features
Here is a summary of what you can do with Synaptic:
- Update the package cache
- Upgrade the entire system
- Manage package repositories
- Search for packages by name, description, maintainer, version, dependencies etc
- List packages by section, status (installed), origin or more
- Sort packages by name, status, size or version
- Get information related to a package
- Lock package version
- Install specific version of a package
There are more features that you may explore on your own. Head to our Synaptic Installation Guide page to learn how you can setup this great software on your system.