One of the most recognizable phrases of Debian-based GNU/Linux distributions is:

Selecting previously unselected package pkg.

It appears in the output of apt install pkg.

Why? What is the benefit of mentioning that this package was previously unselected? Wouldn't "Selecting pkg." be sufficient? What does "previously unselected" even mean?

  • 1
    Oh, don't let them kill that too. It's bad enough that there's no "Error exit delayed from previous errors" anymore
    – user313992
    Nov 8, 2021 at 20:23
  • "One of the most recognizable phrases of GNU/Linux is" - I've used Linux since around 1999 and I've never heard of it... Nov 8, 2021 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


This message is produced by dpkg; it indicates that the package it is installing was previously neither installed nor held.

This can be useful to distinguish between packages which are being upgraded and packages which are being installed (both operations are performed using the same dpkg --install command).


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .