I tried

apt list --installed 

That did give me a long list of all of the applications, but without a description I don't know what I am looking at, so, I don't know what to ignore for now and which to research.

I also tried

apt list --installed | wc

but, I got the error code apt does not have a stable CLI interface. Use with caution in scripts. After looking over apt in the man pages it appears I cant pipe those command together for some reason. I also tried combinations of apt, list, --installed with apt-cache but, I failed. I know I am far from skilled, and would appreciate any help.

  • did you look at the results of dpkg -l ? (it's results can be routed to a file if necessary/useful; though as you gave no OS & release details my quick test was on my release)
    – guiverc
    Dec 23, 2021 at 23:22
  • 1
    Why would you want a machine-generated list of 10,000-or-so unorganized package descriptions? (One hopes you're not going to print it!)
    – user535733
    Dec 23, 2021 at 23:57
  • Aha, this is an XY Question. The actual problem is determining which packages to include/exclude from your remix. You have decided that listing all the packages and their descriptions is your preferred solution. There are better solutions.
    – user535733
    Dec 24, 2021 at 14:48

4 Answers 4


apt list --installed --verbose


To list installed packages and a brief description,


aptitude search '~i'

This displays nicely if you set your terminal size to 24 X 132

enter image description here


Did you look at the results of dpkg -l ?

It's results can be routed to a file if necessary/useful; though as you gave no OS & release details my quick test was on my release*

guiverc@d960-ubu2:/de2900/lubuntu_64$   dpkg -l >blah
guiverc@d960-ubu2:/de2900/lubuntu_64$   view blah

| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend                                                                                                                
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)                                                                                                                                    
||/ Name                                          Version                                     Architecture Description                                                                        
ii  2048-qt                                       0.1.6-2build1                               amd64        mathematics based puzzle game                                                      
ii  a11y-profile-manager-indicator                0.1.11-0ubuntu4                             amd64        Accessibility Profile Manager - Unity desktop indicator                            
ii  abe                                           1.1+dfsg-4                                  amd64        side-scrolling game named "Abe's Amazing Adventure"                                
ii  abe-data                                      1.1+dfsg-4                                  all          side-scrolling game named "Abe's Amazing Adventure" -- data                        
ii  accountsservice                               0.6.55-3ubuntu2                             amd64        query and manipulate user account information                                      
ii  accountsservice-ubuntu-schemas                0.0.7+21.10.20210712-0ubuntu1               all          AccountsService schemas for Ubuntu                                                 
ii  acl                                           2.2.53-10ubuntu2                            amd64        access control list - utilities                                                    
ii  acpi-support                                  0.143build1                                 amd64        scripts for handling many ACPI events     



  • It still contains a load of detail that is likely unwanted if you're wanting this for scripting purposes, but it's a start (though only one possible way)
    – guiverc
    Dec 23, 2021 at 23:33
  • I am attempting to learn more by using cubic to build a custom distro.I downloaded ubuntu-20. Cubic sent "important" apps over. I am looking for a description of each just long enough so I can categorize them into low level programs, and higher level programs that I can research and decide if I want to remove them. Ex there are several apps that start with firefox, I might only want TOR. Many are only 3 letters. I don't want to have to research all of them tonight.
    – tom gain
    Dec 24, 2021 at 0:55
  • Ubuntu Core 20 is a very different system to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. There is no dpkg or apt available in the year or 20 products, as the year format has been used by Ubuntu to represent snap only products of Ubuntu since 2016. ie. Ubuntu Core 20 is not the same as Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.
    – guiverc
    Dec 24, 2021 at 2:03
  • Thanks for the correction! Sorry for the mix up the comments have a character limit ,so I cut some info. I put Ubuntu 20.04 LTS into cubic. Thanks everybody who mentioned dpkg -l. I did try it before posting didn't work for me. But.... After reading your post I tried it again and I saw the emulator window was blocking the description. So, now I am halfway there. I am now working on how to modify the command to only show me what is to be installed, and to show me all of the pages.
    – tom gain
    Dec 24, 2021 at 2:57
  • The dpkg -l >blah put into the file blah all my installed packages (dpkg is a command that works on packages, not apps)... I only copied part of the view output as it's thousands of lines long for my system; you didn't provide release details, but output was only installed packages for my release.
    – guiverc
    Dec 24, 2021 at 3:03

You can get a list of all commands on the system with man pages using

man -s 1,6,8 -k .

Section 1 is user commands, section 6 is games, section 8 is admin commands.

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