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Is it possible to get a list of packages that were most recently installed through apt-get?

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Now, if only someone would tell me how to list the manually installed packages that I haven't already removed. Sigh, Linux. – Aleksandr Dubinsky Apr 2 at 10:45
@AleksandrDubinsky apt-mark showmanual | less doesn't do it? – GKFX Jul 13 at 18:44
@GKFX I meant in the context of recently installed packages. – Aleksandr Dubinsky Jul 14 at 19:54
@AleksandrDubinsky You'd have to use comm -12 a b with a a sorted copy of apt-mark showmanual and b a sorted list from one of the answers below. – GKFX Jul 15 at 10:26
up vote 85 down vote accepted

Command to list recently installed packages that were installed via any method (apt-get, Software Center et al.):

grep " install " /var/log/dpkg.log

Example output:

2010-12-08 15:48:14 install python-testtools <none> 0.9.2-1
2010-12-08 15:48:16 install quickly-widgets <none> 10.09
2010-12-08 22:21:31 install libobasis3.3-sdk <none> 3.3.0-17
2010-12-09 12:00:24 install mc <none> 3:
2010-12-09 23:32:06 install oggconvert <none> 0.3.3-1ubuntu1
2010-12-09 23:34:50 install mpg123 <none> 1.12.1-3ubuntu1
2010-12-09 23:34:52 install dir2ogg <none> 0.11.8-1
2010-12-09 23:34:53 install faad <none> 2.7-4
2010-12-09 23:34:54 install wavpack <none> 4.60.1-1
2010-12-10 11:53:00 install playonlinux <none> 3.8.6

You could run this command to list only the recently installed package names,

awk '$3~/^install$/ {print $4;}' /var/log/dpkg.log

Command to list history of apt-get (NOTE: this doesn't list dependencies installed, it simply lists previous apt-get commands that were run):

grep " install " /var/log/apt/history.log

Example output:

Commandline: apt-get install libindicate-doc
Commandline: apt-get install googlecl
Commandline: apt-get --reinstall install ttf-mscorefonts-installer
Commandline: apt-get install valac libvala-0.10-dev
Commandline: apt-get install libgtksourceview-dev
Commandline: apt-get install python-sphinx
Commandline: apt-get install python-epydoc
Commandline: apt-get install quickly-widgets
Commandline: apt-get install libreoffice3* libobasis3.3*
Commandline: apt-get install mc
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the problem with synaptic is that it doesn't show what you do with aptitude, apt-get and dpkg, for this reason +1 for this option – hhlp Dec 12 '10 at 14:36
This command will not show updates. Use the software center to see everything. – HDave Dec 7 '12 at 18:19
It might be better to to save a text file like this cat /var/log/apt/history.log | grep "\ install\ " > install.log – CrandellWS Oct 16 '13 at 2:08
grep " install " /var/log/dpkg.log will suffice. There's no need to use cat. See also this. – augurar Sep 10 '14 at 22:54
Why the backslashes in "\ install\ "? – musiphil Oct 7 '14 at 22:34

Ubuntu's Software Center shows whole history of all packages that were installed/upgraded/removed. Just click "History" at the bottom of the list at left.

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This history button is now at the top of the GUI and can show installed packages and updates. This should be the accepted answer to the question as its the only answer that works for updates. – HDave Dec 7 '12 at 18:19
This question does not specify a desktop (GUI) environment, but the accepted answer is valid in both GUI and non-GUI scenarios. – msanford Jan 11 at 16:32
@HDave Definitely not true, dpkg.log logs updates. – GKFX Jul 16 at 12:54

To see also older packages sorted by time of installation:

grep " install " /var/log/dpkg.log.1 /var/log/dpkg.log

And for packages installed very long time ago:

gunzip -c `ls -tr /var/log/dpkg.log.*.gz` | grep " install "
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I found a package that's installed 2 days ago in /var/log/dpkg.log, but not in /var/log/apt/history.log. Still don't know why... – Samuel Li Feb 7 at 3:03

There is a package called wajig Check it out for the command line, it is the first thing I install now. Like aptitude, except that it works like you'd expect a command dispatcher to work. So really, it's not like aptitude. Commands below are just a small subset.

wajig help
Common JIG commands:

 update         Update the list of downloadable packages

 new            List packages that became available since last update
 newupgrades    List packages newly available for upgrading

 install        Install (or upgrade) one or more packages or .deb files
 remove         Remove one or more packages (see also purge)

 toupgrade      List packages with newer versions available for upgrading
 upgrade        Upgrade all of the installed packages or just those listed

 listfiles      List the files that are supplied by the named package
 listnames      List all known packages or those containing supplied string
 whatis         For each package named obtain a one line description
 whichpkg       Find the package that supplies the given command or file

Run 'wajig -v commands' for a complete list of commands.
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I'm not sure how wajig helps for listing the latest packages. I don't see a command for that after a cursory look through the commands. Do you know what the command is? – Ehtesh Choudhury Aug 30 '14 at 23:48

Select and print only the recently installed package-names, all on one line.

To do so, change the most-voted answer to:

cat /var/log/dpkg.log |awk '/ install / {printf "%s ",$4 }'

This results in a single line of package-names. Such a line can easily be added to a sudo apt-get purge command.

Example output

libgnome-media-profiles-3.0-0 gstreamer0.10-gconf gnome-media gnome-menus librest-0.7-0 libgoa-1.0-common libgoa-1.0-0 libwacom-common libwacom2 ubuntu-docs apg libgnome-control-center1 libgnomekbd-common libgnomekbd7 gnome-control-center-data gnome-icon-theme-symbolic gnome-settings-daemon ubuntu-system-service gnome-control-center gnome-online-accounts gnome-session-bin indicator-power mousetweaks
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Don't parse the output of cat command. And how about this awk '$3~/^install$/ {print $4;}' /var/log/dpkg.log? – Avinash Raj May 26 '14 at 1:50
@AvinashRaj Your awk command prints the packages one below another; mine one next another. That is why an output example might be useful from time to time. – Gin Gordon May 26 '14 at 2:01

In addition to DoR's answer, for those who prefer a GUI, there is a File -> History menu item in Synaptic.

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And as rafalcieslak points out, this function is available in Software Center as well. – belacqua Feb 2 '11 at 22:00
Synaptic history only shows what you installed via Synaptic...totally useless. – HDave Dec 7 '12 at 18:17

Here is some shell to list dpkg installed files. (which should include all apt/aptitude/software center/synaptic installed packages)

grep -A 1 "Package: " /var/lib/dpkg/status | \
grep -B 1 -Ee "ok installed|half-installed|unpacked|half-configured|config-files" -Ee "^Essential:yes" | \
grep "Package:" | cut -d\  -f2

This does not include install time/date info. But may be useful in determining any differences in packages installed from os install to current.

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The following trick answers Aleksandr Dubinsky's request to limit this to manually-installed packages:

comm -12 <(apt-mark showmanual | sort) <(grep " install " /var/log/dpkg.log | cut -d " " -sf4 | grep -o "^[^:]*" | sort)
  • comm -12 lists lines common to two sorted files.
  • <(command) expands to the name of a file containing the output of command.
  • apt-mark showmanual lists manually installed packages; ie. those that should never be auto-removed.
  • grep " install " /var/log/dpkg.log is taken from the accepted answer.

An alternative, showing more information, in chronological order, and accessing all available logs, is:

zcat -f /var/log/dpkg.log* | grep " install " | sort > /tmp/dpkg.log
grep -F "`comm -12 <(apt-mark showmanual | sort) <(cat /tmp/dpkg.log | cut -d " " -sf4 | grep -o "^[^:]*" | sort)`" /tmp/dpkg.log | grep \<none\>

grep \<none\> limits results to new installations. You could, for example, use grep to limit the search to a three-month period by adding grep 2016-0[567] to the first pipeline; it's very flexible.

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This is getting closer. Things that could be improved: 1) show the packages in chronological order, 2) show more details like install date/times, the version, maybe even the size 3) show all packages installed since the OS was installed. – Aleksandr Dubinsky Jul 17 at 17:26
Amazing! Do you mind if I clean up your answer to be more concise with more explanations about each command? – Aleksandr Dubinsky Jul 18 at 14:55
@AleksandrDubinsky Thanks for that edit; I've corrected the description so that it matches the changes you made. – GKFX Jul 19 at 13:31
Do you mind if I remove the "following trick answers Aleksandr Dubinsky's request" noise, the first command which isn't useful, put a good heading, put the main command on top, add sample output, and try to describe all of the commands involved? – Aleksandr Dubinsky Jul 19 at 16:54
What do you mean by "grep \<none\> limits results to new installations"? It does not seem to affect the output (confirmed with grep -v \<none\>). – Aleksandr Dubinsky Jul 19 at 16:59

The problem with viewing the installation history in Software Centre or Synaptic is that it's hard to copy/paste the contents into an email (e.g. when talking with tech support!). The alternative is to view the contents of the log files in /var/log/apt as root.

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Just to clarify, to simply view contents in /var/log/apt, you do NOT need to be root, or with any administrator's privilege. – Samuel Li Feb 7 at 3:01

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