Debian Packages

From Whonix
(Redirected from Whonix Debian Packages)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Which Whonix Debian packages are safe to remove? What is a meta package? What other packages do Whonix meta packages install? Which packages should never be removed? How to safely run autoremove?


It is safe to run sudo apt autoremove so long as the specific Whonix machine meta package is kept for the Non-Qubes-Whonix or Qubes-Whonix platform. In other words, these packages should not be in the list of autoremoved packages.

Non-Qubes-Whonix Xfce:


  • Whonix-Gateway: qubes-whonix-gateway
  • Whonix-Workstation: qubes-whonix-workstation

It is actually a good idea to safely run sudo apt autoremove according to the following instructions on this wiki page to make sure extraneous packages which might no longer be recommended for default installation are removed.

Re-install Meta Packages and Safely Run Autoremove[edit]

1. Update the package lists.

sudo apt update

2. Ensure a proper meta package is installed.

Non-Qubes-Whonix Xfce:

  • Whonix-Gateway: sudo apt install non-qubes-whonix-gateway-xfce
  • Whonix-Workstation: sudo apt install non-qubes-whonix-workstation-xfce


  • Whonix-Gateway: sudo apt install qubes-whonix-gateway
  • Whonix-Workstation: sudo apt install qubes-whonix-workstation

3. Auto remove packages.

sudo apt autoremove

4. Reconfirm a proper meta package is still installed.

Repeat step two.

5. Done.

The procedure of safely running sudo apt autoremove is complete.

Related: Whonix Factory Reset

Changed Configuration Files[edit]

Be careful if a message like this appears.

Configuration file '/etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.sdwdate'
Configuration file '/etc/apparmor.d/whonix-firewall'
 ==> Modified (by you or by a script) since installation.
 ==> Package distributor has shipped an updated version.
   What would you like to do about it ?  Your options are:
    Y or I  : install the package maintainer's version
    N or O  : keep your currently-installed version
      D     : show the differences between the versions
      Z     : start a shell to examine the situation
 The default action is to keep your current version.
*** whonix-firewall (Y/I/N/O/D/Z) [default=N] ?

For general advice, see: Changed Configuration Files.

Package Version Check[edit]

If you need to check your package version, use dpkg -l package-name where package-name is the package you wish to check.

dpkg -l package-name

Your output should look like this:

| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name           Version      Architecture Description
ii  grep           3.8-5        amd64        GNU grep, egrep and fgrep
ii  package-name   0.1          amd64        package-description

If you wish to independently verify the version, you can either access the github of a package and check its changelog.

See list of github repositories.

Go to a github repository. Example github repository:

Click on the debian sub folder.

Click on the changelog file. Example /debian/changelog file:

On the very top of the changelog is the latest version number.

TODO: document how to view the version number using /

related: Package Upgrade Policy

Advanced Topics[edit]

Packages FAQ[edit]

Table: Meta-packages Frequently Asked Questionss

Question Answer
What is the disadvantage of removing a meta package? The disadvantage is any changes in package dependencies will not be automatically processed by the system when it is upgraded.

For example the whonix-workstation-packages-recommended-gui meta package depends [1] on package If the whonix-workstation-packages-recommended-gui package is not installed, you would not notice if tb-updater was with package tb-updater might become unmaintained, broken or even have unfixed security issues. Whonix tries to keep users up-to-date if/when (security relevant) packages are deprecated. If that occurs, you could simply run sudo apt purge tb-updater and consider installing what the Whonix meta package recommends as a replacement.

See also: Technical Information.

Which meta packages are safe to remove? Use apt-cache to see the package description.
  • Replace package-name with the package you intend to install.

apt-cache package-name

It will include either:

  • Safe to remove, if you know what you are doing.; or
  • Do not remove.

Note the Removal Instructions below! When that entry is understood, feel free to remove any desktop specific meta packages.

Which packages do Whonix meta packages install? Refer to the following files:

Or use for example.

apt-cache show whonix-workstation-packages-recommended-gui

Which meta packages should never be removed? Do not remove any packages which include the name dependencies, unless the implications are fully understood.

TODO: document

How to uninstall qubes-core-agent-passwordless-root without also uninstalling qubes-whonix-workstation or qubes-whonix-gateway? dummy-dependency first, then drop qubes-core-agent-passwordless-root:

sudo apt update sudo apt install dummy-dependency sudo apt purge qubes-core-agent-passwordless-root

Removal Instructions[edit]

These instructions allow for safe removal of a package (in this example the uwt package). This results in meta package removal without breaking the whole system when next time running sudo apt autoremove.

1. Upgrade.

Upgrade the system.

2. Clean up.

If custom packages were installed and uninstalled or dependencies changed in the meanwhile, remove unneeded dependencies first.

sudo apt autoremove

3. Uninstall.

As an example, consider how the package could be uninstalled.

sudo apt purge uwt

A message will appear similar to this.

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
  faketime libfaketime
Use 'sudo apt autoremove' to remove them.
The following packages will be REMOVED:
  qubes-whonix-workstation* uwt* whonix-shared-packages-recommended-cli*
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 4 to remove and 1 not upgraded.
After this operation, 302 kB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n]

4. Keep packages installed by meta packages.

Now, there is a small issue:

  • Next time the sudo apt autoremove command is run, all packages listed under "The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:" would also be uninstalled. (Such as and others.)
  • In order to keep the other packages which were installed such as by the whonix-workstation-packages-recommended-gui and the whonix-shared-packages-recommended-cli meta packages, mark them as manually installed so they do not get removed. This can be conveniently achieved with aptitude. [2] [3]

sudo aptitude keep-all

5. Done.

The procedure is complete. Be sure to understand the disadvantage of this approach.

Alternatively, there might be a very crude workaround which is discussed in the following forum topic: Issues with removal of specific packages by users /

Technical Information[edit]

Info This section provides technical information for interested readers and can be skipped.

The underlying technical issues with meta packages are not caused by Whonix, but instead have been inherited from Debian. Those are also described here:

The Debian manual also provides further information about meta packages:

The Whonix build script installs all packages using apt --no-install-recommends. [4] The --no-install-recommends option is being used to prevent installation of many additional packages that are unwanted. For example:

  • whonix-workstation-packages-recommended-gui (used to) Depends: gwenview.
  • gwenview Recommends: kamera.
  • Without using --no-install-recommends, kamera would also be installed and then pull its own Depends: as well.
  • kamera [+ dependencies] would not be useful to have installed by default on Whonix-Workstation as it would cost unnecessary disk space. There are many more examples which could end up installing packages by default that are unrecommended for privacy reasons.

Since the --no-install-recommends option is used, meta packages like whonix-workstation-packages-recommended-gui must use the Depends: field and cannot use the Recommends: field. (Since no packages would be installed then.)

Even if Whonix could and did use the Recommends: field, new packages added to the Recommends: field would not be installed when the meta package that Recommends: them gets upgraded. This is because packages listed after the Recommends: field only get installed during their initial sudo apt install package-name installation.

Some readers might notice that despite this explanation, anon-meta-packages's debian/control file uses the Recommends: field anyway. This is not a contradiction because it may be useful for a later Whonix installation from Whonix repository use case.

Forum discussion:
Issues with removal of specific packages by users /

See Also[edit]


  1. Depends: field in debian/control
  3. It is possible to safely mix apt-get and aptitude. Raphaël Hertzog, dpkg and Debian Developer, stated in 2011 that this is not a problem anymore:

    First I want to make it clear that you can use both and mix them without problems. It used to be annoying when APT did not track which packages were automatically installed while aptitude did, but now that both packages share this list, there’s no reason to avoid switching back and forth.

    Source: apt-get, aptitude, … pick the right Debian package manager for

  4. Function pkg-install-maybe in

We believe security software like Whonix needs to remain open source and independent. Would you help sustain and grow the project? Learn more about our 12 year success story and maybe DONATE!