The new version of Linux Mint 20 has been announced and along with it a User Guide (migrated from this tutorial) to help us in the migration process.

Now, there are two steps which trouble me:

1- Purge PPAs and 3rd party repositories, which says:


  • Click on Remove Foreign Packages.

  • Select all foreign packages and click Remove.


2- Delete foreign packages which, says:

With the exception of packages you want to keep, select all foreign packages and click Remove

When I check all of the foreign packages installed (from "Menu -> Administration -> Software Sources -> Maintenance -> Remove Foreign Packages") I see there is a LOT of them.

I'm able to recognize some of these packages, but I'm not sure about most of them.


What are the implications of not Removing the Foreign Packages?

Related, What if I remove accidentally a package that is needed by some app later on? Can I recover it? (I guess so, but I'm not sure if it is safe to do so)

What may be the best way to approach this?

Side note:

  • I executed mintupgrade check and the output seems fine to me.
  • I'm an intermediate experienced Linux user.
  • 1
    I have the same issue and it does seem like some sort of bug - all the main Linux packages are listed here, it seems like all the packages that have been installed in the upgrade are (falsely?) counted as "foreign packages".
    – PoorYorick
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 20:33

2 Answers 2


The implication of NOT removing foreign packages is, that they can't be updated. Since Mint doesn't know the structure of those PPAs, it can't change their entries in the apt list. Apps that have been installed from the foreign repositories will not be upgraded as well and might reference libraries that won't exist after the upgrade anymore.


You have "specialVideoApp" installed from a foreign repository which references libavcodec-5.2.0. After upgrade that app will still be there, but the library (which is part of the Mint system) was upgraded to libavacodec-5.2.3. Then this app won't work anymore. You would have to update it yourself.

If the packages are falsely marked as "foreign", as PoorYorik pointed out, it should make no difference - those packages are likely to be updated.

I've tried it on Mint 18 and I didn't get any "foreign" packages.

To sum it up: It will not hurt your new installation, if you don't remove those foreign packages - but it should be likely that some of those applications won't work after the upgrade.

  • Hi, do you have any reference documentation that could help on solving this issue of some of the applications not working after the upgrade, like in the example you used, "specialVideoApp"? Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 7:28
  • Sorry, I don't. I'd look at the debian packages site - they list all packages with their dependencies
    – kanehekili
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 17:24
  • After long time after I posted this first time here, I did the migration and it went quite smoothly. Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 17:43

In my upgrade from 19.3 to 20, "foreign packages" included mountall. When I ran "delete" it complained that mountall was "essential" to the system and could not be deleted. If I checked it to be kept, delete complained that it "must be deleted". Dead end - could not delete any foreign packages.

I saved a timeshift snapshot and then manually deleted mountall with dpkg, which seemed to break the reboot (sort of expected given the description in the mountall manpage). I restored the system with timeshift which seemed to fix the reboot.

Apparently, "deleting foreign packages" is confused about the mountall command and may be generally "dangerous" as at least one other contributor has suggested!

  • Yep, it happened to me with another package (don't remember the name), but in my case I just left it unremoved and it didn't cause any troubles during the upgrade and up to date version 20 is working just fine. I guess it depends on which the exact package reporting this issue is. Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 15:03
  • In the case of "mountall", the upgrade insisted that it "must" be removed and will not go any further ... I.e. a dead end for deleting the so-called foreign packages. Similarly, I didn't delete anything and the upgrade went OK. BTW, manually deleting mountall seemed to break the a reboot - probably a bad idea! Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 17:59
  • I just had the same problem with "mountall". It appears that mountall is NOT in the default repositories for LinuxMint 19.3 NOR in the Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic) or 20.04 (Focal) It IS in the repository for 14.04 (Trusty). My research has shown that mountall is part of the upstart boot process and Ubuntu 18.04+ use systemd for booting and so do not contain mountall. I believe there must have been a glitch somewhere and my system never switched over to using systemd for booting rather than upstart. or perhaps this is new with mint 20, and it's an oversight of the upgrade process. Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 8:22
  • Anyhow I added the repository for ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr with sudo echo "deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu trusty main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/official-trusty-package-repositories.list then after apt update mountall is no longer considered as a foreign package. However, when trying again to remove foreign packages I'm told that libprocps4 can't be removed. Further searching of the [ubuntu packages lists](packages.ubuntu.com) reveals that libprocps4 has been replaced by libprocps6. I can remove libprocps4 manually with apt I'm going to follow the advice and not remove them. Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 8:23

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