I just realized that many of my packages are "manually" installed:

root@deb:~# apt-mark showhold
root@deb:~# apt-mark showmanual | wc -l
root@deb:~# apt-mark showauto | wc -l

I know eg from here that this happens if you upgrade only one specific package, but I did not do this for 202 packages.

Anybody has a guess how this might have happened?

Are there any downsides of having so many manual packages?

What are principal differences between manual and auto installed packages?

I can change them all to auto installed, but is this risky, could something go wrong when doing this??

  • Ahh, ok, when I do "apt install package" then this package is "manually" installed, while all dependencies of this package are marked as auto installed. And this means that I cannot use apt autoremove on manually installed packages. Is that correct so far? So my situation with 202 manual packages is not so unnormal!? Commented May 25, 2022 at 17:02
  • 2
    Yes. your explanation is correct. But I am not sure what is normal. I Get apt-mark showmanual | wc -l 2552 apt-mark showauto | wc -l 851 (it surprised me also) Commented May 25, 2022 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


The basic set of packages installed by default when the system is initially set up are marked as manually installed, as are any packages explicitly named for installation or upgrade with apt install or similar tools. This means that many packages you don’t think of as manually installed (because you don’t explicitly want them) will nevertheless be marked as manually installed.

You can run

apt-mark minimize-manual

as root to remove unnecessary markers.

The difference between automatically and manually installed packages is that the former will be considered for auto-removal when no other package depends on them.

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