Is there any difference between

sudo apt-get purge <package-name>

and

sudo apt-get remove <package-name>  

?

I often see people recommend one or the other.

In other words, what does apt-get purge remove that apt-get remove doesn't?

up vote 173 down vote accepted

As the man apt-get page says:

remove - Packages installed are removed (Does NOT include configuration files)

purge - Purge is identical to remove except that packages are removed and purged. Purge meaning that any configuration files are deleted too.

This of course, does not apply to packages that hold configuration files inside the user's home folder (eg: /home/SexyNoJutsuUser), this files will not be touched ( Why does "Purge" not remove everything related to an app? )

So for example, if you were to remove Chrome, Firefox, XBMC or any other that holds some configuration files inside your /home folder, this files will stay there.

On the other hand if you were to install apache, squid, mysql or any other services similar that save their files in /etc, this configuration files will be deleted if you use purge.

  • Purge can be used on a meta package to remove it, while leaving the underlying package intact. If you want to upgrade the base system without affecting postgres, you can apt-get purge the postgres meta package and then upgrading from Debian 7- Debian 8 will leave your postgres version untouched. – boatcoder Jul 7 '16 at 14:33

An excerpt from my answer on another question:

  • apt-get remove packagename
    will remove the binaries, but not the configuration or data files of the package packagename.
  • apt-get purge packagename, or
    apt-get remove --purge packagename
    will remove about everything regarding the package packagename, [...]
    Particularly useful when you want to 'start all over' with an application because you messed up the configuration.

apt-get purge removes configuration files, while apt-get remove does not.

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