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When I right click on a package in Synaptic Package Manager it presents selections for removal and complete removal. What are the differences between these options?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Mark for removal removes the package, but not the configuration files associated with the package. It is equivalent to

apt-get remove package_name

Mark for Complete Removal purges the package, i.e. removes both the package files and its configuration. It is equivalent to

apt-get --purge remove package_name

From the Synaptic Package Manager manual:

3.2. To Remove Packages

Configuration files and user created data (e.g. a website in "/var/www") are not removed from the system by default.

Debian only: You can change the default behavior in the preferences.

Debian only: To remove all files related to the package choose Mark for Complete Removal instead of Mark for Removal.

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The "complete removal" option will also remove global configurations files, e.g. in /etc

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