I'm running a Debian testing system with some packages installed from unstable or experimental, using apt pinning.

How can I list all packages that come from unstable or experimental? I'd like to use apt, but I have aptitude and synaptic installed as well.

  • 1
    The easiest way I found so far relies on the apt-show-version package: apt-show-version | grep /unstable or apt-show-version | grep /experimental. May 31, 2013 at 11:08

2 Answers 2


One option is to install apt-show-versions. For example, to find packages installed from unstable:

$ apt-show-versions | grep unstable

Also, the following script might be of interest: A script to check how mixed your system is.

  • +1 for the script still working in 2021
    – RichieHH
    Sep 24, 2021 at 9:46

Using aptitude you can run the following command:

$ aptitude versions '~VCURRENT (~Aunstable|~Aexperimental) !~Atesting' --group-by=none

This will list all packages whose currently installed version (~VCURRENT) comes from the unstable or experimental archives (~A) and are not present in the testing archive (!~A). The --group-by=none option serves to produce a more terse output.

  • For some reason, that doesn't work for me. It gives me a huge list of packages which are most definitely not from unstable or experimental. The apt-show-version method above gives me the correct output. Can somebody else confirm? May 31, 2013 at 17:05
  • Sorry, updated the answer, now should work properly.
    – toro2k
    May 31, 2013 at 21:03
  • Yes, now it works! May 31, 2013 at 22:02
  • I'm unable to adapt this to filter out packages coming from 'stable' as well, neither to only pick packages coming from 'testing'. I guess I'll never understand how aptitude (or APT for that matter) works.
    – alecov
    Feb 23, 2019 at 4:27

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