I'm using 12.04 LTS. After uninstalling unwanted packages using purge and autoremove commands I still have orphaned files in system / home directory (configuration and cache files mostly).

Just to make it clear used synaptic to clean the residual configurations, which removed the listed packages but some of the uninstalled package left various directories across system.

Is there a way how to completely get rid of those unwanted files?

I'm not fan of janitor and bleechbit type of software and consider it somehow dangerous, but do not want to bloat my system with files I do not need anymore. Used fslint which looks good for a duplicate files but fails to find residues and similar files.

Any suggestions?

  • Nothing wrong with janitor;)
    – Rinzwind
    Apr 8, 2013 at 18:20
  • I wonder if anyone has diffed tripwire exclusions per application to packaged files per application. It would clearly tell you the intentionally orphaned files (the white-listed ones with any checksum) Apr 8, 2013 at 18:28
  • I consider it dangerous Rinzwind since i can't see what exactly such applications do
    – danijelc
    Apr 8, 2013 at 18:43
  • By system in "I still have orphaned files in system (configuration and cache files mostly)." are you referring to /home as part of system?
    – user25656
    Apr 9, 2013 at 3:11
  • Yes mostly in home folder and subfolders
    – danijelc
    Apr 10, 2013 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


Kinda embarrassing answering to my own question but found a solution how to remove orphaned packages that satisfies my needs.

First I made a new custom filter in Synaptic package Manager.

Settings -> Filters Than Deselected All and checked only Orphaned check box and saved.

Now synaptic is listing all orphaned files. Note that synaptic will list files with no dependencies as orphaned too so don't remove anything you're unsure what it is (and if it is really orphaned).

Than I installed GtkOrphan using CLI sudo apt-get install gtkorphan which is a GUI for deborphan but adds option to remove packages too.

Once started GtkOrphan and has to be run as root, under Orphaned packages tab expand the Options and check the "Show all orphan packages, not only those in the libs section". After that GtkOrphan will report as "orphaned" all packages that have no dependencies too, for example libreoffice, ubuntu-desktop, ubuntu-restricted-extras, myunity and etc. Now you can check the list and using right-click context menu chose to hibernate each package you don't want to be reported as orphaned. List of hibernated packages can be accessed from right click context menu or View menu.

Always under Orphaned packages tab and expanded Options check the "Show uninstalled packages with orphaned configuration files". Before removing anything make sure you know what are the files you want to delete. In my case GtkOrphan found some old nautilus configuration files not shown in Synaptic Package Manager.

In case you delete some of configuration files you need re-installing the package should solve the problem.


I had the same problem with some orphaned files, created after using rsync. A few hidden files starting .f were created on my external hard drive. Even a sudo rm would not remove them.

Unmounting the drive, then re-mounting it allowed me to rename then delete the files.

If the orphaned files are on a system hard drive, I'd say boot into a live CD then delete the files.

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