ubuntu package search

Ubuntu has one of the largest repositories among all Linux distros, numbering over 60,000 packages. This extensive package selection is a major selling point for Ubuntu. 

But at the same time, so many packages can also cause minor problems. Since there are a lot of packages with similar names or functionality, new users can have a hard time finding and selecting the packages to install.   

Search with Apt

You can use apt list to get the full list of available packages, but this list on its own isn’t very useful. If you know the package name, you can search for it like so

apt list nginx

After confirming that the package name is correct, you can view more details on the package like so

apt show nginx

If you only remember part of the name, you can use a wildcard. For instance, if you only remember that there’s some package whose name starts with ‘disc’, you could search for it like so

apt list disc*

This’ll list all packages starting with the keyword ‘disc’. You can also be creative with the wildcard and search for certain package types. For instance, if you’re trying to install new fonts, you could search for TTF packages like so

apt list *-ttf

This’ll list all packages ending with the ‘-ttf’ keyword.

You can also use grep to search for packages with a keyword.

apt list | grep disc

This’ll list all packages with disc in the package name. The list will be a bit longer, but you don’t need to specify where ‘disc’ goes in the package name with this method. 

If you want to perform a more extensive search, you can also use apt-cache search like so

apt-cache search nginx

The above command searches package names and descriptions for the keyword ‘nginx’. If you want to list the package version as well, or simply want better formatting, you can instead use

apt search nginx

Search Ubuntu Web Archive

The Ubuntu Packages webpage has a search tool that lets you search for packages based on various parameters such as:

  • Search type (Package names, Descriptions, Source package names, Package contents)
  • Package suites (Lunar, Jammy, Bionic, etc.)
  • Repo type (Main, Multiverse, Universe, etc.)
  • Architecture (amd64, i386, arm64, etc.)

If your search returns a long list, you can also filter the results to only display exact matches. Basically, the tool has a bunch of useful criteria to help refine your search.

Search with Synaptic

If you want an even better GUI-based search tool, we recommend the Synaptic Package Manager.

sudo apt install synaptic

The All filter is selected by default, and with it, Synaptic lists all the available packages.

synaptic package manager search

For starters, if there are multiple similar packages and you’re unsure which one to install, you can simply click on the package to get further info. You can also get the changelog and check the package properties for even more info.

You can use the Search tool to search for keywords based on the following filters:

  • Name
  • Description and name
  • Maintainer
  • Version
  • Dependencies
  • Provided packages

You can also search for packages using the preset filters such as:

  • Sections (databases – universe, multimedia – universe, networking – multiverse, etc.)
  • Status (Installed – manual, Installed – upgradable, Not installed – residual config, etc.)
  • Architecture (amd64, i386)
  • Origin
Anup Thapa

Senior Writer

Anup Thapa is a Linux enthusiast with an extensive background in computer hardware and networking. His goal is to effectively communicate technical concepts in a simplified form understandable by new Linux users. To this end, he mainly writes beginner-friendly tutorials and troubleshooting guides. Outside of work, he enjoys reading up on a range of topics, traveling, working out, and MOBAs.