Beginner's Guide

How to uninstall applications in GNU / Linux

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Either because the latest program we installed does not convince us, or because we are determined to ‘lighten up’ our equipment, it is important to know how we can uninstall software (or rather, using the correct terminology, ‘packages’) from our Linux system .

However, one thing we should know about Linux is that there is not just one way to uninstall (or install, since we are) packages , but multiple. In the first place, it will differ according to the distribution we are using, and secondly according to how we prefer to carry out this task using graphical tools or the command line terminal.

Systems and package managers

The first thing we should know when it comes to uninstalling software in Linux is

  • What is a package system?
  • What is a package manager?
  • What system and package manager does my Linux use?

A package system is the specific format in which the software is packaged, distributed and installed on our system. The package manager is, of course, the program responsible for installing, updating and uninstalling the software of a distribution.

Thus, different ‘families’ of distributions share the package system (and they tend to share the manager as well); thus, those based on Debian (such as Ubuntu and derivatives) have apt as a format and apt-get as a manager, those based on RedHat (such as CentOS, Fedora and derivatives) have rpm as a format and usually have yum as a manager (although Fedora uses a ‘fork’ called dnf), and Arch-based ones (like Manjaro) use the tar format and the pacman manager.

Things get complicated when we take into account that, apart from the main package system of the distribution, there may be other overlapping complementary systems , not linked to any specific distribution.

How to use the package manager to uninstall programs

All popular Linux distributions have a graphical tool capable of helping us use the package manager without the need to enter text or text mode commands . In fact, they usually have one of these tools installed as standard, but they also have alternative options.

Thus, for example, in Ubuntu, we have the ‘Software Center’ , which allows us to manage both APT and Snap packages, but we also have the option of installing Synaptic , Debian’s traditional graphical package management tool and all its derivatives (and it only handles APT packages).

The exact name and function of these graphical managers differ from one distribution to another , but in general they tend to be quite intuitive.

For example, in the following image, we see the Synaptic graphical manager running on Ubuntu. We just have to use its internal search engine to find the package we want to uninstall and tell Synaptic to uninstall it:

Synaptic Package manager for Linux

Uninstall software on Debian, Ubuntu and derivatives

If we use Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Elementary Linux, Kali Linux, PopOS! or similar, we will only have to enter the following command in the terminal (and then enter our password ‘root’):

sudo apt-get remove [packagename]

Uninstall software on Red Hat and derivatives

If we use Red Hat or CentOS, we will only have to enter the following command in the terminal (and then enter our ‘root’ password):

sudo yum remove [packagename]

If, on the contrary, we use Fedora Linux:

sudo dnf remove [packagename]

Uninstall software on Arch Linux and derivatives

We will only have to enter the following command in the terminal (and then enter our password ‘root’):

sudo pacman -Rs [packagename]

Uninstall software on add-on package systems:

If we have installed any specific software through a Flatpak or Snap package , the commands to use will be the following:

sudo flatpak uninstall –user [packagename]

sudo snap remove [packagename]

If, on the other hand, we had used an AppImage, don’t worry: they are like portable Windows applications , just delete the package and that’s it.

Image | Pixabay


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