I need to clean up my server from PHP 5.3 packages (there are plenty of them) in order to be able to compile PHP 5.2. What is the easiest/safest method to get rid of them all?

10 Answers 10


This method is not advised to be used without careful review. Read below comments.

This should completely remove any package with a name that starts with php and anything related to it.

sudo apt-get purge 'php*'

DON'T PRESS y UNTIL YOU ENSURE that in the removing packages list there are no other packages (besides related to php packages), like:

php-common* python-openssl* php-curl* ... and tons of packages

If so, type n, copy the list (& tidy up from the unrelated packages), and manually remove them:

sudo apt-get purge      php-common* php-curl*    ... and tons of packages
  • OK thanks both of you. I just chosen your answer because Marco does not seem to have lack of Karma :)
    – corev
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 18:11
  • 14
    This exact command just wiped ALL the packages from my system. I don't advice anyone to use it ever.
    – Caballero
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 10:32
  • 25
    php* will get it treated as a regex, and ever package with ph in its name will get removed.
    – muru
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 19:06
  • 9
    Am I the only one thinking this is not really a safe idea?
    – Daan
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 10:21
  • 1
    Be very careful with autoremove.
    – RobinJ
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 16:27

I do not recommend running sudo apt-get purge php*.

That was scary! Fortunately, I didn't type the -y option, because it chose about hundred of packages without php in their name.

sudo apt-get purge `dpkg -l | grep php| awk '{print $2}' |tr "\n" " "`

How it works:

First, a list of packages is generated using this series of commands: dpkg -l | grep php| awk '{print $2}' |tr "\n" " ".

Hint: You can run this part of the command in your terminal to see what packages would get removed. You should get something like: libapache2-mod-php5 php5 php5-cli php5-common php5-json

Finally, when you run the full command, this list of packages gets passed to sudo apt-get purge, removing all of the packages.

Hint: If it feels safer to you, you could just as easily run them separately, and copy+paste the list of packages to remove like so: sudo apt-get purge libapache2-mod-php5 php5 php5-cli php5-common php5-json

  • 9
    This should be the accepted answer
    – Dark Star1
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 21:28
  • 1
    Sounds like you're suggesting one syntax is bad because too wide but do you mind explaining what your command does, so people may be able to judge if that's appropriate before running it?
    – Vince
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 19:24
  • 2
    What if aptitude is not installed or cannot be installed on Ubuntu, how about apt-get cache search ?
    – Vicky Dev
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 11:30
  • If you've upgraded your OS and doing this to get clean state - don't forget to remove repository(ies) ppa:ondrej/php if you used them before installing PHP again, otherwise you will endup with broken installs :)
    – jave.web
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 23:24
  • I also agree with @DarkStar1. This answer should be the accepted answer. I ran RobbinJ's answer and it didn't end well. It totally destroyed my system. Luckily, I made a backup image of the system before running his command. So, I was able to restore my system.
    – ThN
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 18:36

You'll probably want to purge all the php* packages from your system. Something with a wild-card should work

sudo apt-get purge php.*

You may be interested in How to rollback to PHP 5.2 for where to go next.

  • 9
    php* will get it treated as a regex, and ever package with ph in its name will get removed.
    – muru
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 19:05
  • @muru Why does this regex syntax choose to ignore the second p in php? Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 19:17
  • p* means zero or more instances of p. That's how most regex engines will treat that expression
    – muru
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 0:34

First, you have to remove Apache and all of its dependencies with:

sudo apt-get purge apache2 php5 libapache2-mod-php5 mysql-server libapache2-mod-auth-mysql php5-mysql phpmyadmin

and then:

sudo rm -rf /etc/apache2; rm -rf /etc/php5; rm -rf /var/lib/mysql; rm etc/mysql 

If you have any issues with phpMyAdmin, try entering this into the Terminal:

dpkg-reconfigure phpmyadmin
  • ***Note to those who copy-paste without reading carefully, this will also remove apache, which is not what OP asked for
    – adavea
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 14:01
sudo apt-get -y purge libapache2-mod-php5 libapache2-mod-php5filter libexpect-php5 libgv-php5 libow-php5 php5 php5-adodb php5-auth-pam php5-cgi php5-cli php5-common php5-curl php5-dbg php5-enchant php5-exactimage php5-ffmpeg php5-fpm php5-geoip php5-gmp php5-idn php5-imagick php5-imap php5-interbase php5-intl php5-json php5-lasso php5-ldap php5-librdf php5-mapscript php5-memcache php5-memcached php5-mhash php5-midgard2 php5-ming php5-mssql php5-mysql php5-mysqlnd php5-odbc php5-pgsql php5-ps php5-pspell php5-radius php5-recode php5-remctl php5-rrd php5-sasl php5-snmp php5-sqlite php5-suhosin php5-svn php5-sybase php5-tidy php5-tokyo-tyrant php5-uuid php5-xcache php5-xdebug php5-xmlrpc php5-xsl

In your case, you could search for all the packages:

sudo aptitude search php5|awk {'print $2'}|grep -v i386|grep -v "^A"|tr "\n"  " "

and then purge them:

sudo apt-get purge <list of packages found>
  • aptitude is not installed on my system (16.04) Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 9:03
  • If you wish to install aptitude you can do so by typing sudo apt-get install aptitude Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 17:00

In addition to any purges mentioned in the other answers, if you want to be completely sure everything is removed, you're likely to want to run

cd /
sudo find -name "php"

Which will show you files/folders with the name php in them. You're then going to want to check each of these file paths, i.e.:

cd /usr/local/include/php

And delete them as is appropriate. Be careful not to delete anything that's critical to another process you need to keep running, though, unless you want to have to reinstall that too.

To remove a directory, or file, we use the rm comment with the -rf flag, so given the above example, we'd type:

sudo rm -rf /usr/local/include/php

The regex the two people said is incorrect.
Instead of using php.* or php* One should use ^php*

Thats the right answer.
So you would use: sudo apt-get purge "^php*"

Although I dont recommend using this method cause its highly automated and I encourge you to use sudo apt list --installed | grep php to get the list of packages and use these package names that you got from above command in this command:


  • This doesn't remove libapache2-mod-php, for instance.
    – Patrick B.
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 18:17
  • But php.* will also cover cases where php appears at the beginning of the package name. There's no reason to use both ^php* and php.* Also, it should be ^php.*; apt-get seems to know that php* is a glob, not a regex, but when you add the ^ character it can't possibly be a glob, so you'll get every package that starts in "ph."
    – Patrick B.
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 14:32
apt list --installed 2>/dev/null | awk -F '/' '{print $1}' | grep '^php' | xargs -r sudo apt purge;
sudo rm -rfv /etc/php/5.3;


apt list --installed 2>/dev/null - list of installed packages with version and other info;

apt list --installed 2>/dev/null | awk -F '/' '{print $1}' - list of installed package names only;

apt list --installed 2>/dev/null | awk -F '/' '{print $1}' | grep '^php' - list of installed package names only starting in php;

apt list --installed | awk -F '/' '{print $1}' | grep '^php' | xargs -r sudo apt purge- pass list of installed package names only starting in php as arguments for sudo apt purgecommand;

sudo rm -rfv /etc/php/5.3 - remove all configuration files for php5.3;

If necessary

sudo rm -rfv /etc/php/5* - remove all configuration files of all php5 versions (php5.3, php5.4, php5.5 etc.);

sudo rm -rfv /etc/php - remove all configuration files of all php versions (php5, php7 etc.);


I use sudo apt remove php8.0* It removes php and all related packages - for the given version - and downgrades the system to any other existing, installed (older) php version.


First I run sudo apt list --installed | grep php to show all installed PHP versions then I removed the mentioned specific PHP version (8.1) with all related dependences (extensions) by run sudo apt-get purge 'php8.1*'

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