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zypper vs. apt and rpm vs. dpkg command comparison
Wednesday - Jun 12th 2013 - by - (2 comments)

Over the past few years I've settled with two major Linux distros: openSuSE (and SLES) and Debian. While the package management in Debian was using apt for a long time, SuSE's zypper alternative is relatively new but nonetheless very helpful. 

The following table shows a comparison of the most important and most used commands for package/software management in SuSE and Debian systems.

zypper vs. apt command comparison

   zypper  apt
 Search package
 zypper se < pkgname >
 apt-cache search
< pkgname >
 Install package
 zypper in
< pkgname >
 apt-get install < pkgname >
 Update package list
 zypper refresh
 apt-get update
 Update all packages
 zypper update
 apt-get upgrade
 Upgrade all packages to new major version*
 zypper dist-upgrade
 apt-get dist-upgrade
 Update a single package
 zypper update < pkgname >  apt-get upgrade < pkgname >
 Uninstall/remove a package
 zypper remove < pkgname >  apt-get remove < pkgname >
 Show all packages found in repo(s)
 zypper packages
 apt-cache pkgnames
 Show updateable packages
 zypper list-updates
 apt-show-versions -u
 Show dependencies of a package
 N/A  apt-cache depends < pkgname >
 Show description of a package
 zypper info < pkgname >  apt-cache show < pkgname >


 rpm vs. dpkg command comparison

   rpm  dpkg
 List installed packages
 rpm -qa
 dpkg -l
 List content of installed package  rpm -ql < pkgname >
 dpkg -L < pkgname >
 List content of package file
 rpm -qlp < pkgname >.rpm  dpkg --contents < pkgname >.deb
 Install package
 rpm -i < pkgname >.rpm
 dpkg -i < pkgname >.deb
 Simulate installation of package  rpm -i --test < pkgname >.rpm  dpkg -i --simulate < pkgname >
 Update a package
 rpm -U < pkgname >.rpm
 N/A (use dpkg -i)
 Uninstall/remove a package
 rpm -e < pkgname >  dpkg -r < pkgname >


If you know additional zypper/apt/rpm/dpkg commands which are worth to be compared and mentioned here, please drop a comment.

Update June 14th, 2013: Added apt-get dist-upgrade to the table. This command allows to upgrade to a newer major software version (e.g. MySQL 5.0 -> 5.1). However it should be mentioned, that although this command exists in Debian, it is unlikely that it's going be used (except for a distribution upgrade, e.g. lenny -> squeeze). The reason for this is the "stable software version" mind of Debian. Ubuntu handles this approach differently and frequently adds newer major versions to their repositories.

Update July 10th, 2015: Added "list content" rpm and dpkg commands.

Update September 16th, 2015: Added "Simulate installation of package" rpm and dpkg commands.


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Comments (newest first):

anon wrote on Jan 11th, 2014:
The zypper equivalent for a distribution upgrade (apt-get dist-upgrade) is "zypper dup". See https://en.opensuse.org/SDB:System_upgrade

The Arch wiki has a similar comparison of more tools:

Alexander from Zürich wrote on Jun 12th, 2013:
Might be worth mentioning, that for Debian the "Update all packages" would rather be:

apt-get dist-upgrade

Because of the "all packages" there. Don't know how that compares to zypper.

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