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

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  • 1
    Now, if only someone would tell me how to list the manually installed packages that I haven't already removed. Sigh, Linux. Apr 2, 2016 at 10:45
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    @AleksandrDubinsky apt-mark showmanual | less doesn't do it?
    – GKFX
    Jul 13, 2016 at 18:44
  • @GKFX I meant in the context of recently installed packages. Jul 14, 2016 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, 2016 at 10:26

9 Answers 9


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
  • 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, 2010 at 14:36
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    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, 2013 at 2:08
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    grep " install " /var/log/dpkg.log will suffice. There's no need to use cat. See also this.
    – augurar
    Sep 10, 2014 at 22:54
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    note that this seems only to find packages which were newly installed. Packages for which a new version was installed appear as upgrade in dpkg.log Sep 25, 2014 at 18:55
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    And a better version: zgrep " install " /var/log/dpkg.log*
    – cdosborn
    Jan 12, 2018 at 19:29

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 "
  • 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, 2016 at 3:03

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.
    – Dave
    Dec 7, 2012 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, 2016 at 16:32
  • @HDave Definitely not true, dpkg.log logs updates.
    – GKFX
    Jul 16, 2016 at 12:54
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    There doesn't seem to be a history option in recent versions of Software Center.
    – To Do
    Jul 7, 2020 at 9:43

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.

  • 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. Jul 17, 2016 at 17:26
  • Amazing! Do you mind if I clean up your answer to be more concise with more explanations about each command? Jul 18, 2016 at 14:55
  • @AleksandrDubinsky Thanks for that edit; I've corrected the description so that it matches the changes you made.
    – GKFX
    Jul 19, 2016 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? Jul 19, 2016 at 16:54
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    There's a bug in the last command, because grep -F find partial matches. For example, if python3 is installed, it will also match all python3 libraries (python3-click-package) including ones that are no longer installed. Moreover, grep -Fw doesn't help because - is a word boundary. Oct 21, 2016 at 10:59

All on one line; for command use

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

Listing packages one below another

By popular demand, here is slightly adapted version for listing the packages one below another:

cat /var/log/dpkg.log |awk '/ install / {printf "%s\n",$4}'
  • Don't parse the output of cat command. And how about this awk '$3~/^install$/ {print $4;}' /var/log/dpkg.log? May 26, 2014 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. May 26, 2014 at 2:01

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? Aug 30, 2014 at 23:48

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.


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, 2011 at 22:00
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    Synaptic history only shows what you installed via Synaptic...totally useless.
    – Dave
    Dec 7, 2012 at 18:17

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, 2016 at 3:01

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