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Re: Are /var/cache/apt/archive files essential?

On Fri, Jun 03, 2005 at 03:44:46PM -0400, Thomas H. George wrote:
> I note that there are multiple entries for most of the packages in the 
> archive with dates going back two or three years.  Perhaps it would have 
> been better to weed out the older entries.  If so, is there a simple way 
> to do this?

From the apt-get manual page:


clean clears out the local repository of retrieved package files. It
removes everything but the lock file from /var/cache/apt/archives/ and
/var/cache/apt/archives/partial/. When APT is used as a dselect(8)
method, clean is run automatically. Those who do not use dselect will
likely want to run apt-get clean from time to time to free up disk


Like clean, autoclean clears out the local repository of retrieved
package files. The differ- ence is that it only removes package files
that can no longer be downloaded, and are largely useless.  This
allows a cache to be maintained over a long period without it growing
out of control. The configuration option APT::Clean-Installed will
prevent installed packages from being erased if it is set to off.

So call 'apt-get autoclean' to remove most of your packages or
'apt-get clean' to remove them all. It doesn't hurt. You just need to
fetch those files again when you have to reinstall for some reason.

Note though that having an older version of a package lying around in
the apt cache can be useful when you discover a bug in the new version
and want to revert to the old.

To have more control, cobble together some shell commands. For example
see this posting by me:


At the end that post boils down to the following shell line that
prints all packages that have a more than two versions in that

ls /var/cache/apt/archives | sort -g | uniq -c -t "_" -d -W 1 | grep -v -E "^[[:blank:]]*2 " | sed "s/ *[[:digit:]*] \(.*\)$/\1/g" 

I have another script in /usr/local/bin/cleanpackages that moves old
packages to another directory. That should then be a directory on a
partition where you have more space. Instead of moving them you can
delete them if you want.

#! /bin/sh

# Move old files to another dir. Mostly meant for the apt cache.

if test $# -eq 1; then


find "$SRC_DIR" -daystart -mtime +$DAYS -printf "mv \"%p\" \"$DEST_DIR\";\n" > "$TMP_SCRIPT"
# For deleting the following should work (untested)
#find "$SRC_DIR" -daystart -mtime +$DAYS -printf "rm \"%p\";\n" > "$TMP_SCRIPT"

source "$TMP_SCRIPT"

Maurits van Rees | http://maurits.vanrees.org/ [Dutch/Nederlands] 
Public GnuPG key: keyserver.net ID 0x1735C5C2
"Let your advance worrying become advance thinking and planning."
 - Winston Churchill

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