Is there any command that prints only the name of the packages that apt-get autoremove selects? I'm creating a script that updates the kernel, removes the old kernel and the unnecessary packages (apt-get autoremove), but I want to print on the screen the list of packages that will be removed by apt-get autoremove, how can I do this?

  • You should just be able to get it to run sudo apt-get autoremove -y and it should autoremove anything needed to be removed...
    – user364819
    Jul 24, 2015 at 20:33
  • Try reading here, [This may be of help.][1] [1]: serverfault.com/questions/433250/…
    – Doug
    Jul 24, 2015 at 20:35
  • To get the list of packages without removing them actually you can do sudo apt-get --dry-run autoremove
    – heemayl
    Jul 24, 2015 at 20:36
  • 1
    I just want to get the name of the packages, not the entire output of the command.... Jul 24, 2015 at 20:53

4 Answers 4


Since as per your comment you want to list only the packages that are going to be removed:

apt-get --dry-run autoremove | grep -Po '^Remv \K[^ ]+'

grep command breakdown:

  • -P: Interprets the given pattern as a PCRE (Perl Compatible Regular Expression) pattern
  • -o: Prints only the matched string instead of the whole line

Regex breakdown:

  • ^: matches the start of the line
  • Remv: matches a Remv string
  • \K: excludes the previously matched substring from the matched string
  • [^ ]+: matches one or more characters not
$ apt-get --dry-run autoremove | grep -Po 'Remv \K[^ ]+'
  • 2
    @GeekLynxAfonso, you don't need to use sudowith --dry-run option.
    – jarno
    Dec 23, 2015 at 10:35
  • 1
    @jarno Makes sense, the fact that it was probably not needed didn't occur to me. Thanks
    – kos
    Dec 23, 2015 at 10:41

Actually you only need to filter the output of your

sudo apt-get autoremove --dry-run 


For instance you can do it with

sudo apt-get autoremove --dry-run  | head -n 5 | tail -n 1
  • 1
    Your command works too!! But I prefer the kos's command... But thanks in same!! :) Jul 25, 2015 at 14:23

No need for apt-get in modern apt versions. You can use

apt autoremove --dry-run
  • Thats necro-bumping. At the time of the question you had to use apt-get ;-)
    – kanehekili
    Oct 22, 2022 at 21:23

Using apt-patterns (see man 7 apt-patterns) one can simply do:

apt list '?garbage'

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