Linux package management. If ever there was a more divisive topic in the whole of the Linux landscape, I don’t know what it is (vi vs. emacs notwithstanding). Part of the reason for this is the command line. New users simply don’t want to use the command line. That’s a shame, as the command line is very powerful. One perfect example of that is apt-get purge.

For anyone that manages packages on a Debian-based distribution from the command line, apt-get purge should be a must-use. Why? Consider this: When you install an application with apt-get, you might find, after using said app for a while, that the application isn’t what you thought it was. When you go to uninstall that application, you might do so with apt-get remove. And that’s great, as it will easily remove the application you don’t want.

See: Securing Linux policy template download (Tech Pro Research)

However (and this can be a big however), when you remove an application with apt-get remove, it leaves behind configuration files. What happens if those configuration files in question contain sensitive information (such as login details)? Even if those config files don’t contain information you’d rather not have available to prying eyes, you still don’t want those files cluttering up your system. That’s where apt-get purge comes in.

When you remove an application with apt-get purge, it not only uninstalls the application, but it also purges any config files associated with the app. And that, my friends, is exactly why you should be using apt-get purge to uninstall your applications on Debian-based Linux desktop and server distributions. Switch your way of thinking with apt-get and always remove your applications with the purge option to keep your system free of clutter and files that might contain sensitive information.