Synaptic is a powerful graphical tool for managing packages. It is not installed by default. While Ubuntu Software Center deals with packages that contain applications, Synaptic deals with all packages, including applications, system libraries, and other pieces of software. Changing the system on this level is more complicated but also allows more detailed control. For instance, you can choose to install a specific library if you need it for a program that is not available in a package format.
Synaptic may be installed from the Ubuntu Software Center and then found by searching in the Dash for Synaptic Package Manager. Launch it and you will see the main window, as shown in Figure 5-9.
Figure 5-9. Synaptic main window
Installing a Package
As with Ubuntu Software Center, installing pack ages with Synaptic is fairly easy. After you find the package you wish to install, click the checkbox to the right of the name of the package and select Mark for Installation. A dialog box may pop up (Figure 5-10) showing you what dependencies need to be installed—if any—which you can accept by clicking the Mark button. After you have selected all the packages you wish to install, click Apply on the Synaptic toolbar to begin installation.
Figure 5-10. Pop-up on Mark for Installation
Removing a Package
To remove a package, click on the box next to the name of an installed package, and choose Mark for Removal. As with installing a package, you may be asked to mark additional packages for removal (Figure 5-11).
Figure 5-11. Pop-up on Mark for Removal
These are generally packages that depend on the presence of the main package you are marking for removal. If you wish to remove all the configuration files too, choose Mark for Complete Removal. After you have selected the packages you wish to remove, click Apply on the toolbar to start the process of removing the package.
Finding That Package
So you are looking for a package but don’t know where to start? The fastest and easiest way is to enter a word in the Quick Search box at the top center of the Synaptic window. You can also click the Search button on the tool-bar. By default, the regular search looks at both the package name and the description, but it can also search just by name or a number of other fields.
If you know what section the package is in, select it in the left pane (you may need to go back to the Sections pane). Select the button in the lower left labeled Sections, and browse through the packages in that section.
In addition to Sections, other package listing and sorting options are worth exploring. You can access them using the buttons at the bottom left of the Synaptic window. Status lets you sort according to installation status. Origin sorts according to the repository from which the software was installed (or no repository for manually installed software; see the section later in this chapter on installing software that is not in a repository). You can even make custom filters to aid your search.