I used source code to build one package such as below:

./configure --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc --localstatedir=/var --libexecdir=/usr/lib --with-package-name="Myplugin" --with-package-origin="http://www.ubuntu.org/" --enable-gtk-doc --disable-static
make install

But unfortunately, i discovered that its the latest version, and has lot of bugs, so i need to remove it/uninstall it. But how can i do so? I tried make clean; make uninstall but still i see it exist:

# pkg-config --list-all | grep Myplugin
$ ls /usr/lib/myplugin/libXYZ.so

How do you remove this now?


Usually you can just use:

make uninstall


sudo make uninstall

if the app was installed as root.

But this will work only if the developer of the package has taken care of making a good uninstall rule.

You can also try to get a look at the steps used to install the software by running:

make -n install

And then try to reverse those steps manually.

In the future to avoid that kind of problems try to use checkinstall instead of make install whenever possible (AFAIK always unless you want to keep both the compiled and a packaged version at the same time). It will create and install a deb file that you can then uninstall using your favorite package manager.

make clean usually cleans the building directories, it doesn't uninstall the package. It's used when you want to be sure that the whole thing is compiled, not just the changed files.

  • I did that too. But still it exist, as shown pkg-config and ls /usr/lib/myplugin/libXYZ.so – user25165 Dec 12 '11 at 11:54
  • 37
    +1 for using checkinstall - it makes this whole problem evaporate. – Oli Dec 12 '11 at 12:00
  • 6
    @Google: If make uninstall doesn't work, you'll need to track what make install did and undo it manually. – Javier Rivera Dec 12 '11 at 12:42
  • 4
    Another thing to keep in mind is that if make install was run as root (e.g., sudo make install), which is typically the case, it's virtual always necessary to run sudo make uninstall to remove the software. – Eliah Kagan Jul 9 '13 at 1:46
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    If you have already run make install, you can still use checkinstall. Normally checkinstall will overwrite everything that make install created. After that just use dpkg -r <package.deb>, and everything should be removed. – user502144 Oct 15 '17 at 18:00

I do not think this is a bug, it would be a good idea to read about and learn to use checkinstall when installing from source.

you can install checkinstall from the repositories, a short description of the package;

CheckInstall keeps track of all the files created or modified by your installation script ("make install" "make install_modules", "setup", etc), builds a standard binary package and installs it in your system giving you the ability to uninstall it with your distribution's standard package management utilities.

These links below may be helpful to get a better understanding. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CheckInstall



This is not a bug - compiling from source is an unsupported method of installing software that bypasses the package management system (which is used by the Software Centre) completely.

There is no standard way that software compiled from source is installed or uninstalled so no way Ubuntu can know what to do. The software is not even listed as an installed program.

You should follow the distributor's instructions for installation and removal of such custom software. You could also contact the developer to ask for them to create a Debian package so that the package management system can be used.


It is not a bug, it is what happens when developers resort to distribution via source and not via the native packaging methods.

You can get your source files to become debian packages by using checkinstall or dhbuild. Honestly, in my opinion - new users should avoid installing from source, and developers should avoid distributing by source only.

  • I know but sometimes it is unavoidable...In this case it was just a small game which is not really necessary but sometime back I had to install MATLAB a computational tool used in my university and had to install it by the source since they did not have a deb file for ubuntu...But I will definitely go through the methods checkinstall and dhbuild...thanks – nik90 Jan 20 '11 at 22:44

I know of few packages that support "make uninstall" but many more that support make install DESTDIR=xxx" for staged installs.

You can use this to create a package which you install instead of installing directly from the source. I had no luck with checkinstall but fpm works very well.

This can also help you remove a package previously installed using make install. You simply force install your built package over the make installed one and then uninstall it.

For example, I used this recently to deal with protobuf-3.3.0. On RHEL7:

make install DESTDIR=dest
cd dest
fpm -f -s dir -t rpm -n protobuf -v 3.3.0 \
 --vendor "You Not RedHat" \
 --license "Google?" \
 --description "protocol buffers" \
 --rpm-dist el7 \
 -m you@youraddress.com \
 --url "http:/somewhere/where/you/get/the/package/oritssource" \
 --rpm-autoreqprov \

 sudo rpm -i -f protobuf-3.3.0-1.el7.x86_64.rpm
 sudo rpm -e protobuf-3.3.0      

Prefer yum to rpm if you can.

On Debian9:

make install DESTDIR=dest
cd dest
fpm -f -s dir -t deb -n protobuf -v 3.3.0 \
-C `pwd` \
--prefix / \
--vendor "You Not Debian" \
--license "$(grep Copyright ../../LICENSE)" \
--description "$(cat README.adoc)" \
--deb-upstream-changelog ../../CHANGES.txt \
 --url "http:/somewhere/where/you/get/the/package/oritssource" \
 usr/local/bin \
 usr/local/lib \

 sudo apt install -f *.deb
 sudo apt-get remove protobuf

Prefer apt to dpkg where you can.

I've also posted this answer on stackoverflow


We need to negotiate the fact that make uninstall would not always work, so below is more of a proactive solution.

This involves the use of the paco program which is available in the Ubuntu Software Center. Once we have installed paco, we can use it the log mode when we "make install" a program. Paco acts like a wrapper for your "make install" and creates a log in the /var/log/paco directory with the list of files copied to various directories. Moreover, you could see the the files in the Paco Front end.

For example when I compiled php from source I did the following :

paco -lp php5 "make install"

The parameter l makes the paco run in the log mode.This created a log file in /var/log/paco named php5 (the name I have given in the command). It contained all the files which are copied to various standard locations during the install. You could use a command line editor or paco gui to view the files.

Below is the example of getting the file list using sed command line editor
(Replace php5 with your filename).

cat /var/log/paco/php5 | sed -n 's/|\(.*\)//;/^#\(.*\)/d;p'

Once you got the list of the files, you know how to delete them don't you? Indeed, you could pass the results of the above command to rm using backticks like shown below:

sudo rm `cat /var/log/paco/php5 | sed -n 's/|\(.*\)//;/^#\(.*\)/d;p'`

Job done!

Note : Due to LD_PRELOAD limitations, paco can't follow the trace of suid programs. See man page.


I had compiled php-5.6.30 from source without configuring it with openssl, so I had to go back and install it from scratch.Using make uninstall did not work as the Makefile for php doesn't support it.

However, this step worked for me, - I listed all the files related to php and removed them manually, it took me about 5 minutes without breaking a sweat. You can similarly use these steps to uninstall your compiled software.

Replace php with the software you need to uninstall

whereis php

The above command lists directories where the binaries are installed ex: /usr/local/bin/php, /usr/bin/php .. remove each file/directory listed in your output.

sudo rm -f /usr/local/bin/php

Do this with all the files listed in the above output and you are all set to install the newer version from scratch.

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