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I was doing a package removal with apt-get remove but then realized I should have done a --purge along with it to remove the configuration files.

Can I remove the packages configuration files easily or do I need to reinstall the package and then remove with a --purge?

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up vote 22 down vote accepted

Yes you can.

From the command line:

sudo apt-get remove --purge packagename

This will remove all of the remaining files that the package installed.

You can also do this from a GUI:

  • Install Synaptic Install Synaptic from the Software Center
  • Run Synaptic
  • Find packages listed under "Not Installed (residual config)"
    Packages with residual configs
  • Right click the package and click, mark for complete removal Menu
  • Click the check button on the tool bar and click apply when the dialogue pops up. Dialogue
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Under apt apt-get remove --purge hasn't removed configuration files or databases if issued after the package was removed, indicating that Package xxxx is not installed, so not removed. dpkg --purge was needed for correct cleanup. – h7r Feb 18 '15 at 19:09

Here is a command will fill your request.

dpkg --purge `dpkg --get-selections | grep deinstall | cut -f1`
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Whilst waiting for more in depth technical answer as I don't have a clue about the internals of Ubuntu!

Tested this on apache2.2-common and mediawiki.

Performing apt-get remove left some files, trying to perform the command again resulted in an error saying that the package was not installed, however, it was available on tab completion for apt-get remove.

When I did apt-get remove apache2.2-common --purge, this both removed the left over files and removed it from the tab completion.

Again, can only give the answer and not a technical "why", but, I look forward to reading someone else's answer!

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The commands

apt-get purge


apt-get remove --purge  

work for removed packages only in newer versions of apt. In older versions, you need to use:

dpkg --purge packagename  

in order to work.

Also I noticed in newer versions tab-completion doesn't work with not purged packages when you're trying to remove or purge them.

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In 12.04 and later, the commands work as expected, so I'm not sure why this comment is here. I should also point out that if there are issues with tab-completion then you should report that as a bug rather than state that as a comment. – Thomas W. Jan 18 '14 at 18:53
There is many systems – Luisg123v Jan 18 '14 at 19:12
This site is only for Ubuntu. Not other variants of Linux. In Ubuntu, 12.04, 12.10, 13.04, 13.10, and even 10.04, the only supported old old release still, this works as intended, so there's no real need to mention "older versions". – Thomas W. Jan 18 '14 at 19:15
There is many systems running with versions of apt where the command wouldn't work, for example, i just tried in ubuntu 10.04 and it didn't (actually it was my trouble), so it whould be useful to know it. In addition, tab-completion is not necessarily a bug, but a vehavior that could be interesting to know. – Luisg123v Jan 18 '14 at 19:25
Given that 12.04 is for the most part EOL now, I'd be surprised to see a still-used 12.04 system outside of outdated servers. – Thomas W. Jan 18 '14 at 20:15

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