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How do I export a list of installed Debian packages on a system, and then install those same packages on a new system?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

To backup:

sudo dpkg --get-selections > /tmp/dpkglist.txt

To Restore:

sudo dpkg --set-selections < /tmp/dpkglist.txt
sudo apt-get -y update
sudo apt-get dselect-upgrade

Also see this question for additional options and info:

I have the above running in a daily cronjob that checks the dpgklist into SVN as part of our server inventory. This will allow you to keep a reasonable accurate inventory of installed packages across your servers and its easy to do a quick side-by-side diff to see if a server is missing a particular package.

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aptitude also satisfies this usecase, and it preserves information about "automatically installed" packages that other methods do not. Run the following on the reference machine:

aptitude search -F '%p' '~i!~M' > package_list 

Copy package_list to the other machine and run

xargs aptitude --schedule-only install < package_list; aptitude install; 
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Just a minor note. According to the aptitude reference manual, the "package" field is "expandable" by default, so aptitude search -F '%p' '~i!~M' > package_list should also work fine. – chronos Oct 17 '13 at 23:34
Regarding package backup: see plug for deborphan @… – TomRoche Nov 17 at 5:43
[insert your own linebreaks, since lies] Regarding package restore: this will need to be done as root, no? If so,<br/> The xargs in your restore commandline= xargs aptitude --schedule-only install < package_list; aptitude install; makes me want to know,<br/> 1. Why does aptitude need the xargs? dpkg --set-selections doesn't.<br/> 2. Presuming aptitude does need the xargs, where to put one or more sudos in your restore commandline? Or otherwise get root for running that line, presuming that's necessary. – TomRoche Nov 17 at 6:00

That's a good idea, and you might also set up one server with apt-proxy if you make a habit of this.

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After playing around with several proxies for apt, I ended up deciding on apt-cacher-ng. apt-cacher-ng is very simple to setup and from several accounts it seems to be more robust than the original apt-proxy. Each person has their own favourite though. – faultyserver Aug 20 '09 at 21:06
My vote is for approx, it's the only one that isn't some kind of insane. – womble Aug 20 '09 at 23:08
Interesting... I've not actually tried any of the alternatives. – user17642 Aug 21 '09 at 16:00

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