I use Windows primarily and have wanted to use Linux as my primary OS, but the "package" system always keeps me from taking that step. Is it possible to export Linux (specifically Debian) applications into a single file or as files in a single folder, just as Windows applications are organized?

I don't have a high speed Internet connection to quickly re-download all the software, in case I screw up my Linux installation.

So is it possible to import/export Linux applications so that I can backup them and then restore later or be able to install them onto some other system running the same distribution?

  • if youve ever built a package from source, the steps are usually ./configure; make; make install. in general, if you avoid doing the last bit, the package will be self-contained and executable from the build folder.
    – mikeserv
    Oct 20, 2014 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


Of course, that's precisely what a 'package' is! Think of it as the install.exe on windows. You download a foo.deb or whatever file and that contains everything you need to install it.

Yes, the process of installation will copy various files to various locations (that is commonly the case in Windows also by the way, not everything is in the Program Files/foo folder), but you don't need to know about that. You just add/remove programs using the tools provided by your Linux distribution (graphical tools in most cases if that's what you like) and they deal with finding the various files in their various directories.

So, if you screw something up and don't want to re-download (though most packages are pretty small and don't take long to download even with a slow connection), you just re-install the .deb file. It is also trivial (very much unlike Windows) to get a full list of all the files associated with a particular program/package and remove them.

Really, the best way for you to understand the system is to use it. Just install a Linux distribution next to your Windows and start using it. There is no reason to remove Windows, use both until you get used to Linux enough to switch to it.


Since you're using Linux Mint, and presumably Linux Mint Debian Edition, I wouldn't do it since the next major release completely breaks with your current installation. I mean, it will be based on Debian Jessie instead of Wheezy.

I also presume that you want to simply cut or copy everything manually somewhere else (like in Windows), and then relocate them once you've done your job.

Now, It all depends on some applications, since some of them have parts that must be recompiled to correctly match your kernel or modules,etc.

If you want to test everything and avoid to re-download everything if something goes wrong, just use a virtual machine and backup the virtual disk for "reversing the changes"

I'm also interested in doing so, but Linux distributions is synonym of a lot of libraries inter-dependency.

  • I'm Using Mint 17 based upon Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. I could keep the distro for a while.
    – c.sh
    Oct 20, 2014 at 17:35
  • The only way I see in order to do what you want is to look what your package had installed with the Synaptic package manager. Then make a folder that contains all the packages files, with their recreated arborescence (folders like /etc, etc). But well, this will take a very long time and can be dangerous if your forget the files rights'
    – X.LINK
    Oct 20, 2014 at 17:43

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