Linux Distros That Uses apt commands for Package Management

When I started my distro-hopping journey experimenting with various Linux distros, I noticed a pattern where one set of distros used apt commands while the other set of distros used the dnf or yum command to install software on my system.

Let’s go ahead and look at a list of Linux Distros that use the apt commands.

List of Distros that use apt commands

  • Debian
  • Ubuntu
  • Lubuntu
  • Xubuntu
  • Kubuntu
  • Linux Mint
  • Knoppix
  • Deepin
  • peppermint
  • bodhi linux

and the list can go on and on!

But why do all these distros use apt commands and more importantly why do others don’t? Let’s address these questions in the coming sections!

Why do all these distros use apt commands?

To understand this we must first address the question “what are package managers?” So let’s see that first and then come back to this question.

What are Package managers?

The package manager’s duty in a Linux system is to manage the installing, removing, upgrading and downgrading the software packages.

I suggest you read this article

A Beginners Introduction To Linux Package managers: apt, yum, dpkg & rpm

to understand it better. The above article explains

  • what are packages
  • contents of packages
  • need for package managers
  • functions of package managers and
  • architecture of package managers.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and read that article and come back to this one!

Now that you have understood what package managers are, let’s go and look at 2 main types of distros

  • original distros and
  • derivative distros

Original distros

Making a Linux distro from zero involves a lot of work to put all the packages and the Linux kernel together into a single “distributable” Operating system.

Original distributions are those that are made this way from zero. In other words, these original ones take the kernel, GNU utilities, application software, etc. and combine them into an installable operating system and distribute them to the end-users usually over the internet. Popular examples of original distros include Debian, RedHat, Slackware, etc.

Derivative distros

Derived distros are ones that take one of these original distributions, make some changes to it, so that its more suitable for a specific purpose and then distribute them as an installable operating system.

Debian is the original distro here that used apt commands and all the distros derived from it also use the same package management system as their defaults.

Examples of derived distros include all the distros in the list shown at the beginning of the article that uses apt commands (other than Debian of course!)

You can have a look at the entire family tree of Linux over at in this link

List of other famous Package Managers

Some of the other famous package managers can include the following

  • RPM (RedHat Package Manager) & yum/dnf: RedHat Enterprise Linux and most its derivatives
  • pacman/AUR : Arch Linux
  • Portage/emerge: Gentoo
  • Nix/Guix : Slackware

Can you use apt commands on the RedHat family?

Yes, you can use the “apt” commands on other systems too. But like I explained in this article apt can only work with packages that follow the .deb format. So the packages you that we are trying to install or remove or update must be in the .deb format!

For example, you can’t open an excel “.csv” document using Microsoft word and expect it to work just fine. Similarly, apt can only work with .deb files!

(Update: There are tools like “apt-rpm” (PC LinuxOS), where apt tool has been ported to be used with rpm packages, but strictly speaking, the original “apt” is designed to be used with .deb packages. Credits: ForgeAus)

You can still use def on Debian based distros or other Linux distros using tools like “alien” which converts between .deb and .rpm package formats, but the hassle to make everything work is not worth the effort, as conversions will bring their own set of problems in some circumstances.

So my advice is to stick to the default package managers that come with the Distros and learn their commands instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole!

Related articles

A Beginners Introduction To Linux Package managers: apt, yum, dpkg & rpm

apt & apt-get Explained For Beginners!

apt update vs apt upgrade: Differences Explained!

And with that, I will conclude this article!

I hope you guys enjoyed this article and learned something useful. 

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