Download PGP Keys with Apt-key

Posted by admin on December 1, 2009 under Tech Tips | 2 Comments to Read

When adding third party software repositories to your APT sources list, you can easily download a referenced PGP key to your APT keyring using the advanced options of the apt-key utility.

For example, if you are adding a third party repository that references the PGP key ID of 6E80C6B7, the following will work as long as the key has been uploaded to a keyserver.

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 6E80C6B7
gpg: requesting key 6E80C6B7 from hkp server
gpg: key 6E80C6B7: public key "Launchpad PPA for Banshee Team" imported
gpg: no ultimately trusted keys found
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg: imported: 1 (RSA: 1)

Typically, instructions on adding repositories give readers a two or three step process that involves apt-key reading a key from a text file or piped from a wget command. The above just cuts all that nonsense out.

The apt-key man page is a bit bare, but there are a few other options you might find interesting that are only mentioned in the commands help output.

Usage: apt-key [command] [arguments]

Manage apt's list of trusted keys

apt-key add - add the key contained in ('-' for stdin)
apt-key del - remove the key
apt-key export - output the key
apt-key exportall - output all trusted keys
apt-key update - update keys using the keyring package
apt-key net-update - update keys using the network
apt-key list - list keys
apt-key finger - list fingerprints
apt-key adv - pass advanced options to gpg (download key)

Backup and Restore Package Lists in Ubuntu

Posted by admin on October 19, 2008 under Tech Tips | 6 Comments to Read

Here’s a simple tutorial on how to backup a list of all your installed repository applications, and restore them to another machine, perhaps even the same machine after a clean installation.  This can save you an incredible amount of time, especially when this task must be repeated often.  Of course, being that Ubuntu is based on Debian, this will work for any Debian based platform.

First, from a computer with all the applications preinstalled, retrieve your installed package list and redirect the output to a file called packages.txt.  Save this package list somewhere so that you can use it for the restore process.

sudo dpkg --get-selections > packages.txt

To restore all the applications from your list, you must follow a three step process very carefully.

sudo dpkg --clear-selections
sudo dpkg --set-selections < packages.txt
sudo aptitude install

You will be prompted to install all the new applications in the list.

Another example of what this process allows you to do is create a baseline of all the applications after a clean installation of Ubuntu.  Let’s say you would like to remove any applications installed since the clean install, perform the exact same process, and any package not defined in that list will be removed.

sudo dpkg --get-selections > clean-install-package-list.txt
sudo dpkg --clear-selections
sudo dpkg --set-selections < clean-install-package-list.txt
sudo aptitude install

The very first command of “–clear-selections” marks all currently installed packages to the state “deinstall”.  When you restore the list of applications using “–set-selections”, only packages ommited from the list will remain in the “deinstall” state.  Aptitude will honor the deinstall state and remove the extra packages, leaving you only with packages from the list. Most excellent. :-)

Useful APT Aliases

Posted by admin on June 1, 2007 under Tech Tips | Be the First to Comment

If you’re an avid user of Ubuntu or other Debian based Linux distributions, then you’re probably very familiar with using APT and it’s related command line utilities. You might however find it useful to create some command line aliases that shorten the time it takes to type out these repetitive tasks.

For example,

"sudo apt-get update" can be shortened to "agu".
"sudo apt-get install" can be shortened to "agi".
"sudo apt-get dist-upgrade" can be shorted to "agd".

A very simple way to create a set of command line aliases would be to add them to your ~/.bashrc file located in your users home directory. Here’s an example of some of my favorite APT aliases.

# Favorite Aliases
alias agu='sudo apt-get update'
alias agi='sudo apt-get install'
alias agd='sudo apt-get dist-upgrade'
alias agr='sudo apt-get remove'
alias ags='sudo aptitude search'
alias agsh='sudo apt-cache show'
alias afs='sudo apt-file search'
alias afsh='sudo apt-file show'
alias afu='sudo apt-file update'

To apply the changes immediately to your bash profile without having to log out, simply run the following command:

. .bashrc

Now, if you want to install the “vim-full” package, simply issue the following command:

agi vim-full

Remember, because “sudo” has been added to your alias, you don’t have to type it every time. It will prompt you to use the password the first time, and won’t ask again for the duration of the defined timeout period. Cool?

“apt-file” is a very useful package you should install. The alias is defined above, but is not installed by default. It allows you to search for file names in all packages from all your defined repositories. For example, lets say you’ve tried to run an application and it claims that your’re missing the library “”. The following example tells you which packages contains a file with that name, which you can then install.

libstdc++5: usr/lib/
libstdc++5-3.3-dbg: usr/lib/debug/
agi libstdc++5

Although these examples have been geared towards Debian and Ubuntu, you can obviously use aliases on any Unix-like operating system. The technique of applying them just varies depending on the shell environment you are using. Have fun!