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Seeing there are various ways to install on Ubuntu. What are the various ways to uninstall items?

Which ways always work? How can I be sure something was uninstalled?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 14 down vote accepted

If the application has been installed via the package manager, all you have to do is run sudo apt-get remove <application_name>. That should always work. If the terminal isn't what stirs your tea, you could open up System → Administration → Synaptic Package Manager, search for the package you want to remove, click on the checkbox next to it and select "mark for removal". Once you click "Apply", the package should be removed. There's of course also the Ubuntu Software Center. It's pretty much the same thing as Synaptic. Just search for the application name and click the "Remove" button.

Sometimes applications can be split up into multiple packages (for example, many games have a separate package for their music). To make sure that you uninstall all related packages AND configuration files, you can type sudo apt-get purge <package-name> or -in Synaptic- "mark for complete removal" instead of just "mark for removal".

As for applications that have been manually compiled and installed, there's not always a single way to remove them. The best thing to do is consult the README/INSTALL file that accompanied the source package - if one exists.

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  • The software centre: find the package, click remove

    enter image description here

  • Synaptic Install synaptic: the same

    enter image description here


  • apt-get:

    sudo apt-get remove <package> && sudo apt-get autoremove
    
  • aptitude:

    sudo aptitude remove <package>
    

It's important to note that when you install things, they often depend on other packages. When you fire off apt-get remove <package> it doesn't remove the automatically-installed applications by default. This is often safer (if you're temporarily removing something like ubuntu-desktop) but this can mean you end up with a load of cruft.

aptitude will automatically remove things (as well as having a nice interactive command line interface)

You can also search for cruft in synaptic using the "local or obsolete" filter under the status section.

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2  
+1 for mentioning the Software Center. –  User Aug 12 '10 at 20:56

What are the various ways to uninstall items or packages?

command-line tools,

  • aptitude

    By default aptitude was not installed on your Ubuntu system.So run this command(sudo apt-get install aptitude) to install it.

    To uninstall a package through aptitude,run (sudo aptitude purge package)

  • apt-get

    sudo apt-get purge package
    
  • dpkg

    sudo dpkg -P package
    

GUI tools,

  • Software-center

  • Synaptic package manager

Which ways always work?

All the above mentioned ways will work for uninstalling a package.

How can I be sure something was uninstalled?

You can check if a package was successfully uninstalled or not by running apt-cache policy package command,

Example:

avi@avi-Lenovo-IdeaPad-Z500:~$ sudo apt-cache policy vlc
vlc:
  Installed: 2.0.8+git20131210+r49167+13+8~ubuntu13.10.1
  Candidate: 2.0.8+git20131210+r49167+13+8~ubuntu13.10.1
  Version table:
 *** 2.0.8+git20131210+r49167+13+8~ubuntu13.10.1 0
        500 http://ppa.launchpad.net/videolan/stable-daily/ubuntu/ saucy/main amd64 Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
     2.0.8-1 0
        500 http://mirror.sov.uk.goscomb.net/ubuntu/ saucy/universe amd64 Packages
        500 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ saucy/universe amd64 Packages

In the above,while running apt-cache policy on vlc pacakage shows the Installed field as,

Installed: 2.0.8+git20131210+r49167+13+8~ubuntu13.10.1
   
avi@avi-Lenovo-IdeaPad-Z500:~$ sudo apt-cache policy chromium-browser
chromium-browser:
  Installed: (none)
  Candidate: 32.0.1700.102-0ubuntu0.13.10.1~20140128.970.1
  Version table:
     32.0.1700.102-0ubuntu0.13.10.1~20140128.970.1 0
        500 http://mirror.sov.uk.goscomb.net/ubuntu/ saucy-updates/universe amd64 Packages
        500 http://mirror.sov.uk.goscomb.net/ubuntu/ saucy-security/universe amd64 Packages
     29.0.1547.65-0ubuntu2 0
        500 http://mirror.sov.uk.goscomb.net/ubuntu/ saucy/universe amd64 Packages
        500 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ saucy/universe amd64 Packages

But on running apt-cache policy chromium-browser,the installed field shows none.Which means the package was not installed.

Installed: (none)
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In certain cases, there are some dependencies that are left even after issuing the commands which the other answers have stated. Like, in this scenario, the OP had installed CCSM (Compiz Configuration Setting Manager) but removing only CCSM does not remove the entire dependencies that were required while installing it and leaves a number of packages which are no longer used like compiz-core, compiz-gnome, compiz-plugins, compiz-plugins-default, libcompizconfig0, python-compizconfig etc.

Using sudo apt-get autoremove or sudo aptitude autoremove removes all such unused dependencies in all such cases.

EDIT: Mine was an extension to an existing answer by Oli.

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GUI Methods

Ubuntu Software Center

The best and the most easy way is to use Ubuntu Software Center. Open Ubuntu Software Center, click the Installed button. All installed Apps will be shown in a categorized list. Select the one you wish to uninstall, and hit the Remove button. Uninstall Apps using Software Center If you don't like the default Software Center, install and use alternative Software Centers like Deepin Software Center, App Grid, Lubuntu Software Center, elementary App Center, etc.

Unity Dash

Ubuntu 12.10 brought Unity 6, which introduced the Preview feature. So, from Ubuntu 12.10 onwards, you can just right click on (almost) any app icon on Unity Dash and click uninstall. Unity Dash Uninstall Apps from Unity Dash

Synaptic

Synaptic is an advanced package management tool and gives you more control than other GUI methods like Ubuntu Software Center, Unity Dash, etc. It was infact the default app manager before Ubuntu 10.04. This is my personal favorite. To uninstall apps, mark the packages that are to be removed and hit the Apply button. Uninstall Apps using Synaptic

Something Missing...

Ubuntu should have had an App Manager in System Settings(Gnome Control Center) itself, like that of Window's Install/Uninstall Softwares in Control Panel or Android's Apps section in Settings. Hope Ubuntu brings this feature soon.

Command Line Methods

These are for the command line fans out there. They're pretty basic,but offers more control and are lightweight.

apt-get

apt-get is the most commonly used command line tool for package management. Use the following command to uninstall any app:

sudo apt-get remove <app_name>

Remember to use the package name of the app to be installed in place of <app_name>.

aptitude

aptitude isn't exactly a command line tool, as it has an interactive ncurses based GUI. However, the following command can be used:

sudo aptitude remove <app_name>

Note that all the above methods will work only on apps installed normally, i.e through package management( Ubuntu Software Center, Synaptic, apt-get, etc.) and not on softwares installed using some root scripts or by copying to home. Though the above methods look very different, all of them use the same APT package manager backend underneath. There are many more methods for installing/uninstalling apps, but the ones involving APT are the recommended and most popular methods.

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sudo apt-get purge <package_name>

sudo aptitude purge <package_name>

When you purge, aptitude removes the package as well as the dependencies that were installed along with it.

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Here's a rundown of the possible ways:

If the package has been installed via a package manager, you can remove it with one of the tools provided with this purpose:

  • dpkg --remove: the most basic command-line tool. Avoid.
  • apt-get remove or aptitude remove: these are the standard command-line tools. Aptitude is slightly preferred: it's a bit more sophisticated. E.g., it can keep a log file of all package operations.
  • synaptic: GUI tool accessible through the GUI menu under "System/Administration". Supports all features, a very nice program generally.
  • software center: even nicer GUI than synaptic. This is a better, updated version of the old "Add/Remove Programs"

All these get the job done. You can start with the most user-friendly (Software Center) and continue to aptitude, if you need certain features or install or remove programs very frequently.

Note that these operations remove the bulk of the program while sometimes leaving "configuration files" in locations such aus /etc/apache2. Most software doesn't have configuration files there; some server software ("daemons") do. In all but a few cases, keeping these configuration files will do no harm. If you want to remove everything, including configuration files, then you can use the "purge" operation. For aptitude, the command line is "aptitude purge." (Tommy's explication above of "purge" is not accurate. The "remove" operation, just like "purge", deletes all dependencies that were pulled in with the original program.)

If the program tells you the package has been removed, you can be sure that the files are gone. Sometimes packages installed as a matter of dependency are not removed immediately. They will be eventually deleted, at a subsequent run.

As to software installed from other channels (typically compiled from source), you're mostly forced to remove the files installed manually. They are often located somewhere in /usr/local. Some software provides shortcuts such as "make uninstall". Don't count on it, though. More often than not, the cleanest solution is to use the version provided through Ubuntu's repositories, which can be uninstalled cleanly.

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1  
+1 for mentioning the Software Center. –  User Aug 12 '10 at 20:56

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