MX-14: Synaptic

Note: RC=right click
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Synaptic is a friendly, easy-to-use frontend (GUI) to the APT packaging system. It is a graphical tool that allows you to install, remove, upgrade, downgrade, or get information on all the software packages available in the online repositories on your repository list. Note that your root password is required and, naturally, you will need to be connected to the Internet if you want to use the online repositories (as opposed to the DVD).

Installing and removing packages


Here are the basic steps for installing software in Synaptic:


Removing software from your system with Synaptic seems as straightforward as installing, but there is more to it than meets the eye:

Upgrading and downgrading

Synaptic enables you to quickly and conveniently keep your system up-to-date.


Unless you are using a manual method in a terminal, upgrading is typically triggered by the appearance of a green arrow on the Apt-notifier in the Notification Area. There are two ways to proceed when this arrow appears.


Sometimes you may want to downgrade an application to an older version, for instance because of problems that arose with the new one. This is easy to do in Synaptic:

  1. Open Synaptic, supply the root password, and click Reload.
  2. Click on Installed in the panel on the left, then find and highlight the package you want to downgrade in the panel on the right
  3. On the menu bar, click Package > Force version...
  4. Select from the available versions on the pull-down list
  5. Click Force Version, then install in the usual manner.


Sometimes you may want to pin an application to a specific version to keep it from being upgraded in order to avoid problems with more recent ones. This is easy to do:

  1. Open Synaptic, supply the root password, and click Reload.
  2. Click on Installed in the panel on the left, then find and highlight the package you want to pin in the panel on the right.
  3. On the menu bar, click Package > Lock version...
  4. Synaptic will highlight the package in red and add a lock icon to the first column.
  5. To unlock, highlight the package again and click Package > Lock version (which will have a check mark).

NOTE: this pinning only affects the application Synaptic, not the actual list of application versions used by Apt, and will not work if you later use another upgrade means. For a universal pinning method, follow the example linked below.


Synaptic is very reliable, but sometimes you may get an error message. A full discussion of such messages may be found in the source given in the Links section, so here we will only mention a couple of the most common.


MX Linux manages software through the Debian package management system. The software is stored on different servers called "repositories" (repos). New users will typically want to leave those alone, but there are some important facts and features for consideration by more experienced users.

Tips and tricks

There are a number of Synaptic features that are not obvious.