uninstall package in ubuntu

Ubuntu supports multiple ways to install packages from package managers like apt and graphical frontends like Synaptic to compiling from source. Depending on how you installed the package, the steps to remove it will also vary.

Additionally, uninstalling a package often leaves behind orphaned dependencies and residual config files. If you want to completely remove the package from your system, you’ll have to consider those as well.

Uninstall Packages with Apt

As apt is the standard method for installing packages (normal install, local install, PPAs) on Ubuntu, this is also how you’ll remove packages in most cases. If you use tools like checkinstall, you can even use apt to uninstall packages built from source.

Remove Packages

First of all, you can run apt list --installed or use tools like apt-mark to see which packages you’ve got installed. Note the package name and uninstall said package like so

sudo apt remove packagename

Remove Config Files

If you also want to remove global configurations created by the package, you can use purge instead. Do note that this doesn’t revert config changes or remove config files stored in your home directory. You’ll have to perform those actions manually.

sudo apt purge packagename

Remove Dependencies

When installing most packages, additional packages are also pulled in as dependencies. After removing the main package, these dependencies are usually no longer required by any programs. You can remove such orphaned packages using autoremove.

sudo apt autoremove

Clean Local Cache

If you want to completely wipe a package from your system, you’ll also want to clear out packages from the local cache. We’ll use autoclean for this as it only removes package archives that are useless (outdated, or no longer present in the repo).

sudo apt autoclean

Check Package Status

Finally, you can verify that the package is removed with

apt policy packagename

Uninstall Packages from Software Center

The Ubuntu Software app lists most user-installed packages, as well as some preinstalled ones. You can’t manage libraries and dependencies through it which makes it somewhat limited. But it’s still an intuitive way to uninstall packages as it’s the default GUI package management method.

  1. Launch the Software Center from the dock. Or, search and open ‘Ubuntu Software’ from the Activities overview.
    ubuntu software dock
  2. Go to the Installed tab and click on Uninstall to remove the packages you want.
    ubuntu software app uninstall package

If you want to remove a locally installed package,

  1. Right-click the package file and select Open with another application.
    ubuntu open with another app
  2. Select Software Install and press Enter. Then, click on the Uninstall button to remove the package.
    uninstall package ubuntu software center

Use Synaptic to Remove Packages

Synaptic is a popular graphical package manager that uses apt under the hood. It’s much more flexible compared to the earlier method as it lets you manage preinstalled libraries and dependencies as well.  

sudo apt install -y synaptic
  1. Launch the Synaptic Package Manager and select the Status > Installed filter.
    synaptic installed packages
  2. You can also directly locate the package by searching the package name.
    synaptic package search
  3. Click on the package entry and select Mark for Removal. Then, press Apply to remove the marked packages.
    synaptic mark for removal

Uninstall Packages using Dpkg

Apt is just a high-level frontend to dpkg. Dpkg is not as user-friendly as apt, but you can still use it to remove packages installed using apt or dpkg.  

To uninstall a package, use the --remove flag.

sudo dpkg -r packagename

If you want to remove the conf files as well, use the --purge option instead,

sudo dpkg -P packagename

Uninstall Packages with Snap

Ubuntu is increasingly favoring snap over traditional package management methods like apt as snaps are secure and easy to install and maintain. If you want to list the packages installed as snaps, you can use

snap list

Then, you can remove the desired package with

sudo snap remove packagename

Uninstall Packages with Flatpak

Flatpak is a popular alternative to snap with its key selling points being up-to-date desktop packages, better performance, and package availability. To remove packages installed with Flatpak, first list them with

flatpak list --app

Uninstall the packages by specifying their app_id like so

flatpak uninstall app_id
flatpak uninstall org.videolan.VLC

Similarly, you can use the --unused flag to remove orphaned libraries.

flatpak uninstall --unused

Remove Packages Compiled from Source

There are usually two scenarios when uninstalling a package built from source. If you used a tool like checkinstall to compile the package, the package will be added to the database of installed packages. In this case, you can easily uninstall the package with

sudo apt remove packagename

If you used make install to compile it instead, you’ll need to check the documentation provided by the developer for any uninstall instructions. Generally, you’ll be able to remove the package with

sudo make uninstall

If the developer hasn’t packaged any uninstall scripts, then you’ll have to search and delete all the files manually.

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.