I want to remove applications I do not use to speed up my package processing tasks like dist upgrades, regular updates, but also for saving disk space and other reasons. I know this is a complex topic so first I will ask my question and second I will give some answers I already found out.


How do I find out which package I did not used at all or for a long time? For example I always use the VLC so I could remove other players like Totem. Of course package dependencies could force me to have programs installed which I will never use.


  • Find the packages which consume much space via synaptic:

    Select "Status" in lower left, select "Installed" in upper left, sort column on "size" in upper right. Then you can decide which big packages you really need.

  • Use aptitude autoremove

  • Use ubuntu-tweak's Janitor for removing old kernel packages, old configs, apt-cache entries, etc.

  • Manually search for applications for a given task that you usually solve with your standard app. E.g. Movie player, Music player, Office program, Browser etc. (BTW: this is what I want to be helped with my question)

  • When removing packages I always favour "apt-get purge" over "aptitude remove --purge" as aptitude often will also remove essential packages due to package dependencies. E.g. when removing "evolution" (as I use thunderbird) aptitude wants to remove also "ubuntu-desktop" and 756 other packages as well, while apt-get just removes evolution and its helping pacakges like evolution-common.

  • Ubuntu lense gives me most recent used applications which are candidates for keeping :)

  • Employ deborphan as I read in this related answer: How do I clean up my harddrive?

  • I should certainly keep essential packages: Keep only essential packages

  • This question is pretty much a duplicate of How to see what installed packages I have never used for cleaning purposes but covering only few aspects. However one answer suggests to use a program called unusedpkg but the link seems down.

  • There is also a program called Kleen http://code.google.com/p/kleen/ but it won't compile in 11.10. However I hacked it to compile but the results are unusable, as for example the g++ package was marked as not used for 203 days, but actually I used it seconds ago for compiling Kleen itself ;) So don't use this tool.

  • On http://wiki.debian.org/DebianPackageInformation I read the the package popularity-contest will produce log files with usage statistics. Unfortunately I didn't enabled the popularity contest so I can't find this log file.

1 Answer 1


If you opt in, popularity-contest reports usage statistics back to Ubuntu, but it could also be used for purposes like yours. From it's man page:

The popularity-contest command gathers information about Debian pack‐ ages installed on the system, and prints the name of the most recently used executable program in that package as well as its last-accessed time (atime) and last-attribute-changed time (ctime) to stdout.

The key word there is executable. So you'll probably get some false hits for data packages, etc.

So, for example, popularity-contest | grep '<OLD>' should give you a list of packages that have not been used for more than three months.

popcon-largest-unused gives you a list of unused package sorted by size.

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