How do I list both programs that came with my distribution and those I manually installed?

  • 8
    Which distribution? Each distribution has different installing tools. – Matteo Sep 18 '11 at 19:43
  • Hm, I'm interested in Red Hat, Ubuntu, and cygwin. Is there a distribution-free way to list the programs with some command line argument? – InquilineKea Sep 18 '11 at 20:07
  • 1
    No, there isn't, as the package managers differ. – Chris Down Sep 18 '11 at 20:19

That depends on your distribution.

  • Aptitude-based distributions (Ubuntu, Debian, etc): dpkg -l
  • RPM-based distributions (Fedora, RHEL, etc): rpm -qa
  • pkg*-based distributions (OpenBSD, FreeBSD, etc): pkg_info
  • Portage-based distributions (Gentoo, etc): equery list or eix -I
  • pacman-based distributions (Arch Linux, etc): pacman -Q
  • Cygwin: cygcheck --check-setup --dump-only *
  • Slackware: slapt-get --installed

All of these will list the packages rather than the programs however. If you truly want to list the programs, you probably want to list the executables in your $PATH, which can be done like so using bash's compgen:

compgen -c

Or, if you don't have compgen:

IFS=: read -ra dirs_in_path <<< "$PATH"

for dir in "${dirs_in_path[@]}"; do
    for file in "$dir"/*; do
        [[ -x $file && -f $file ]] && printf '%s\n' "${file##*/}"
  • 4
    And for RPM based systems (Red Hat, SuSE, CentOS, etc.): rpm -qa – nos Sep 18 '11 at 21:10
  • 1
    Debian / Ubuntu is dkpg -l | grep ^ii. – Rolf Feb 6 '18 at 10:37
  • 1
    @Rolf, you mean dPKg – Harkály Gergő May 12 '18 at 17:52
  • 1
    Hrmph... The BSDs are not Linux distributions... – Kusalananda May 13 '18 at 14:44
  • 1
    @Kusalananda Huh? At no point in this answer does it say that BSDs are Linux distributions, but they are distributions. That's literally what the "D" in BSD stands for. – Chris Down May 14 '18 at 13:33

Answering the second part of the question (nothing really to be added to Chris' answer for the first part):

There is generally no way of listing manually installed programs and their components. This is not recorded anywhere if you didn't use a package manager. All you can do is find the binaries in standard locations (like Chris suggested) and in a similar way, guess where some libraries or some manual pages etc. came from. That is why, whenever possible, you should always install programs using your package manager.


Programs should be reachable via the PATH, so just list everything in the path:

ls ${PATH//:/ }

Expect a result of about 3k-4k programs.

To exclude a probable minority of false positives, you may refine the approach:

for d in ${PATH//:/ } ; do 
    for f in $d/* ; do  
        test -x $f && test -f $f && echo $f

It didn't make a difference for me.

  • 2
    Note that this will also potentially list various non-programs as well (subdirectories of directories in $PATH, etc). – Chris Down Mar 25 '12 at 3:03
  • 1
    I added a test, but it didn't make a difference for me (how useful is a directory in a directory in the path, which isn't itself in the path?). But for cases, where you rely on correctness, it might be useful. – user unknown Mar 25 '12 at 5:42
  • 1
    awesome! I wasn't able to know version of Linux ( long story - but nothing criminal ) but this code saved my day :) – obenjiro Jan 12 '15 at 18:15

All the other answers (so far) deal with packages and binaries. If you mean "desktop applications", the ones that appear in your start menu, you can try:

ls /usr/share/applications | awk -F '.desktop' ' { print $1}' -

More solutions in another question.

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