8 Best Package Manager for Linux

Different distributions have different package managers because a specific package manager handles a specific package. A package manager is compatible with a specific distribution. To manage a system appropriately the user has to identify the best package manager for a distribution. In this article, I will give some examples of the best package managers for each distribution.

What is a Package Manager?

To download, install, remove, and upgrade packages one can use a software application that makes this management easier called package manager. Package managers mainly simplify the management process and help to handle the system efficiently. It lists all the dependencies and metadata that help the user to prevent the missing of information.

Key Points to Select a Package Manager

While selecting a package manager one must in mind some key points. The chosen package manager should have these points otherwise it won’t be utilized properly. Below I have shown some of the key points while choosing a package manager:

  • Check and Resolve Dependencies to support the Package installation.
  • Verify all the components of the system.
  • As the user is used to downloading and installing packages for free it should be a free tool.
  • Should list and save the metadata of each package that includes the version, and description.
  • An organized automatic tool that performs the Linux commands together.
  • As manual installation consumes a lot of time, the tool should save package management time.

How to Decide Which Package Manager Is Best

Different distributions have different package managers. You can only use one package manager in one distribution. So which package manager is best depends on distribution because one cannot choose a DNF package manager for Debian-based distribution. For one specific distribution, there are multiple package managers. So among these package managers, you have to see some key points that will make the package manager the best. Below I have shown the key points:

  • Speed: Choose the package manager that shows faster results, including installation and updating large files.
  • User-friendly: The package manager should have an interactive mode that helps one to review and confirm changes while making significant changes and a user-friendly interface that helps one to know the installation update.
  • Easy use: Easy syntax of commands that help the beginner to memorize them.
  • Features: It must have different and advanced features to manage the software effectively.
  • Seamless development: The workflow should be easy for the developers.

8 Best Package Managers of Different Distributions in Linux

Firstly which package manager is best depends on the distribution and secondly on the preference of users. Here I have shown some of the best package managers on different distributions according to my opinion.

Anyway, you can read the Comparative Analysis of Package Managers in Linux to get an overview of them.

1. Advanced Packaging Tool (APT)

Apt is mainly used to install, remove, and upgrade packages on Debian-based Linux Distribution. It is a package manager that helps the user to manage the system seamlessly. Apt is the front-end of the dpkg package manager and the file extension is .deb. Apt resolves dependencies automatically. Here are some key features of the package manager shown below:

Key Features

  • User-Friendly: Apt provides a user-friendly interface which includes the progress bar, and interactive mode. It is easy to use for the beginner.
  • Pinning Feature: Apt provides the pinning feature. It helps one install different versions of packages from different repositories. It also prevents upgrading to avoid conflict when more than two packages use the same dependencies.
  • Available flag: Apt provides additional flags like -y or –yes and -s or –simulate -y option means yes to all the transactions and prompts and the -s option means to simulate the changes a particular command has done.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Adding an extra repository can introduce complexity to the Apt package manager.
  • No versatility for command.

2. Yellowdog Updater Modifier (YUM)

YUM package manager is used on the RedHat-based Linux distribution that you can use to manage software by installing, removing, and updating packages. It is the default package manager on RedHat.It is the front end for the RPM package manager. Here are some key features of the package manager shown below:

Key Features

  • During installation, it provides dependency resolution.
  • Simple syntax.
  • High-level package management and
  • Support plugin that increases functionality.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Excess memory usage.
  • API is not fully documented.

3. Dandified YUM (DNF)

Dnf package manager is used in the RedHat-based Linux distribution and its derivatives. It is the successor of the yum which is also a package manager of RedHat.Dnf acts as the top of the yum and for that reason, it provides better management of the system than yum. So in perspective, Dnf is the better package manager for RedHat distribution. It works on the rpm packages which have the .rpm extension. Here I have shown some advantages that make it the best package manager.

Key Features

  • Use less memory while synchronizing metadata.
  • Use fully documented API.
  • It has a modular design.
  • Efficient network.
  • Improved dependency solver algorithm.
  • More integrated plugins with core.
  • Automatic bug reporting.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Small supportive community.

4. Synaptic

The graphical package manager Synaptic provides the same features as apt-get and apt is used in Debian-based Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Debian.Synaptic works on the top of the apt or apt-get.The users who are comfortable with the graphical interface mainly use Synaptic package manager. The key features that make Pacman the best are shown below:

Key Features

  • User-friendly interface.
  • As it is lightweight for that reason it provides high speed.
  • Perform smart upgrades.
  • Provide filter functionality.
  • The pinning feature is available.

Reasons to Avoid

  • It is not the default package manager. If one needs it then he has to install it on Debian.
  • Lack of advanced features.

5. Pacman Package Manager

Pacman is the package manager that is used in the Arch-Linux distribution and its derivatives. It is used to manage the system by installing, removing, and upgrading the packages. This package manager is not the front end for any backend package manager. The key features that make Pacman the best are shown below:

Key Features

  • High speed: It is a lightweight package manager written fully in C For that reason, it is the fastest package manager and provides high speed in downloading and upgrading the largest packages.
  • Package availability: It has the rolling release model for that reason, packages are more up-to-date.
  • Customization: Once a package is installed pacman provides the facilities to the user to customize it according to their preference.

Reasons to Avoid

  • No officially supported GUI package manager.

6. Zypp

Zypp is the package manager for the SUSE Linux distributions and its derivatives. The other package manager is YaST. The command line tool of the package manager is Zypper. It is the front-end package manager that uses RPM as the backend. The key features that make Zypp the best are shown below:

Key Features

  • Straightforward command syntax makes it beginner-friendly.
  • Feature-riched package Manager.
  • High speed and customization.
  • Support rollback functionality.

Reasons to Avoid

  • The package repository is quite small.

7. Portage

Portage package manager is mainly used for the Gentoo distribution and this distribution uses meta distribution because of the flexibility of portage. Partage is the source-based package manager that uses the .ebuild file extension. It provides installation with parallel packaging, flexibility, and configurability functionalities. Here I have shown some advantages of the Portage package manager:

Key Features

  • Resolve dependency conflict issues by installing necessary libraries and components.
  • Robust dependency resolution system.
  • High-level customization.
  • Update the system continuously without upgrading versions.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Managing software is difficult for a beginner.
  • Not user-friendly.

8. Snap

Snap is a package manager that is used on different Linux distributions. It uses the snapd tool to manage the snaps packages. It has its own package format which enables it to be used on any Linux distribution. Here I have shown some advantages that make it the best package manager.

Key Features

  • Robustness: Automatic update that kept it updated.
  • Reliability: As it supports rollback if one package update fails then it rolls back to the last update.
  • Modular: Reusable and compatible across distribution.
  • Multiple versions: Multiple versions of the package can be installed.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Larger size that uses huge disk space.
  • Lack of customization.

Comparative Analysis of Package Managers in Linux

Below I have shown the File, GUI, and installation support for different package managers:

Package Name Binary /Source Install from URL support GUI enabled
APT Binary No Yes
DNF Binary Yes Yes
YUM Binary Yes Yes
Synaptic Graphical frontend for binary No Yes
Pacman Binary Yes No
Portage Source No No
ZYPP Binary Yes Yes
Snap Binary No No

Optimal Performance of Package Managers

Below I have shown some functions that are performed better by the specific package manager:

  • Customizability: Portage.
  • User- Friendliness: DNF, YUM, Synaptic.
  • Riched-Feature: Zypp, DNF.
  • High-Speed: Pacman, Portage.
  • Robustness: Snap, Pacman, Portage.

Conclusion

I tried to show the best package manager in this article. Based on performance like speed, availability of features, and user experience the best package manager in Linux has been sorted. But which one should use in a particular distribution depends on the user’s preference.

People Also Ask

Can the best package managers be used all over the distro?

No, for specific packages and distribution, the package managers are classified. Firstly you have to know about your distro then choose a package manager that is compatible with your system.

How can one decide the best package manager for his distro?

By choosing a package manager that is compatible with the distribution, resolves dependency automatically, and facilitates the end user, one can decide the best package manager.
Why APT is the best package manager?
As apt provides higher user facility, secure features, and simple syntax on the Debian-based distribution, it is identified by the end user as the best package manager.

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Afia Zahin Oishi

Assalamualaikum, I am Afia Zahin, completed my graduation in Biomedical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, currently working as a Linux Content Developer Executive at SOFTEKO. A high achieving professional with a strong work ethic and able to work in a team in order to consistently achieve my goal and build my skillset. Able to handle difficult problems with patience and swift decision-making. Read Full Bio

4 thoughts on “8 Best Package Manager for Linux”

    • No hatred for any package manager. No doubt Flatpak is a great package manager but it is not a good match for server and consumes more disk space while using deb/rpm files. That’s the reason it is not in my top 8 package manager list. Thanks for your response.

      Reply
  1. I’m a little disappointed there wasn’t a bit more about graphical interfaces (or even text -TUIs) You mention DNF is “GUI enabled” but DNFDragora on Fedora, the only one I’m familiar with for DNF, is horrible. It is the worst package manager interface I’ve come across, and I regularly distro-hop. There are many for Arch-based distros “pacman”, I’m not clear why you have it “not GUI enabled”, there’s Pamac, Octopi, Pikaur,… and yet you do include “Synaptic”, which is great, I love it for debian based distros (including Ubuntu and Mint), but it seems strange not to include other graphical interfaces. It would mean more work and investigation but, just to tell people to avoid DNFdragora is reason enough to include more!

    Reply
    • Hi Cuvtixo,
      Thanks for your insightful feedback. I appreciate your perspective on graphical package managers across different distributions. Among all the GUI package managers, I personally prefer and find Synaptic package manager to be the best for Debian-based distributions. Hence I chose to include it as the recommended option.
      Regarding Pacman on Arch Linux, while there are third-party graphical interfaces like Pacman and Octopi available, it’s important to note that the Arch Linux project doesn’t officially support these which I already have mentioned in the “reason to avoid” section. Therefore, I chose not to put them on the list.
      About Fedora, I agree that DNFDragora has its shortcomings. But you can try GNOME Software as the graphical user interface. Personally, I find Gnome software to be the better choice between the two, but ultimately, it depends on individual preferences which one should use and avoid.
      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, and hope this gives you some clarity on the selection process.

      Reply

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