Manually Copy software(.deb Files) From Apt-get Archives for Future Installs/backup

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Only for Debian based distros; Ubuntu, Mint etc.

It is easy (and yes, possible as well) to copy software which are installed using apt-get\aptitude\synaptic etc. and save them for future install on other computer or just for backup. For this do the following:

  • You need to be root to copy files from archives, so start a root session of nautilus. Open the terminal and type
    sudo nautilus 
    and then enter password when prompted.
  • A nautilus window will open up (don’t panic. it is just your file manager). Navigate to /var/cache/apt/archives/
  • Here saved are all the files which are installed using apt-get or another package manager which use apt-get at back (aptitude, synaptic). Locate the software you are interested in (.deb files).
  • Copy .deb files on a USB or any other place and carry them to offline computer.
  • I highly recommend to copy all the .deb files available in …/archives directory even if you don’t need them since every software depend on a lot of dependencies which are difficult to locate manually.
  • On the offline machine, again open the root session of nautilus (sudo nautilus).
Installing on Offline Machine »
Can be done this way »
  • Copy and paste all the .deb files from USB stick (or whatever media you used) to /var/cache/apt/archives/ directory (you need to use ‘sudo nautilus’ for this).
  • When everything is done, close nautilus.
  • In the Terminal window (ctrl+T), type
    sudo apt-get install "your package name"
  • Apt-get look for a package in archives first and try to download it only if it is not present there. So in any case, this method must work perfectly.

Recommended way: »
  • Copy all files from USB stick to hard drive (not necessary).
  • Open Synaptic package manager (inbuilt in Ubuntu).
  • Select “Add Downloaded software” from File menu.
  • Navigate to location where you copied your software (or USB/CD containing it).
  • Synaptic will install them without any problem
    • Take care that the architectures of both the computers involved in this process are same i.e. both run either 32 bit or 64 bit versions of the OS.
    • When running nautilus with root privileges, take care that you don’t delete or change anything just because your genius mind think it is useless.
    • It is recommended that both the computer run same version of OS, it is not necessary though.
    Although it is possible to transfer software with this method, but it involves a lot of manual work. If you are a lazy junk (like me :P ), software like Aptoncd are available to automate this process and they do it very well.

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