10 Alpine Linux apk Command Examples


I am new Alpine Linux system admin user. How do I use apk command line utility for the package management on Apline Linux server running in cloud or a Linux container? How can I use the apk command for the package management?

apk command details
DescriptionAPK command
CategoryPackage Manager
Root privilegesYes
Est. reading time10 minutes
Table of contents
Alpine Linux is a free and open source Linux-based distro. It uses musl and busybox. It is designed with security in mind and targeted at power users who wants secure distro out of the box. It uses PaX and grsecurity for Linux kernel protection. All binaries are compiled with stack smashing protection. APK stands for Alpine Linux package manager. You use the apk command to delete, install, upgrade, or list software on a running Alpine Linux based system. Like most modern Linux distro all software packages for Alpine Linux are digitally signed to avoid security problems. You can install packages from local disk (such as CDROM or a USB stick) or the internet archive location (repositories) such as http://dl-cdn.alpinelinux.org/alpine/v3.5/main. The list of repositories is stored in /etc/apk/repositories configuration file. Use the cat command to view /etc/apk/repositories file i.e. type cat /etc/apk/repositories. Alpine Linux package often has the .apk extension and called as “a-packs”. The apk command is equivalent to apt command / apt-get command on Debian/Ubuntu on yum command on CentOS Linux.


Use apk for installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing apps/programs for an Alpine Linux operating system in a consistent manner.


The basic syntax is as follows:

apk [options] command
apk [options] command pkgName
apk [options] command pkgName1 pkgName2

Alpine Linux apk command examples

Let us see how to use the apk command to install security updates or new set of packages on an Alpine Linux server.

How to update the package list

To update your package list, enter:
# apk update
Sample outputs:

Fig.01: How to update the package list in Alpine Linux

Fig.01: How to update the package list in Alpine Linux

How to search for package(s)

The syntax is:
# apk search pkgName
For example, search a package named htop, run:
# apk search htop
Sample outputs:


To search and display description:
# apk search -v -d 'htop'
Sample outputs:

htop-doc-2.0.2-r0 - An interactive process viewer (documentation)
htop-2.0.2-r0 - An interactive process viewer

To list all packages available, along with their descriptions

# apk search -v
Sample outputs:

gettext- - GNU locale utilities
gst-plugins-base0.10-dev-0.10.36-r3 - GStreamer Multimedia Framework Base Plugins (development files)
xcb-util-keysyms-dev-0.4.0-r0 - Utility libraries for XC Binding - keysyms (development files)
openlibm-0.5.4-r0 - High quality system independent, portable, open source libm implementation
imapsync-doc-1.727-r1 - IMAP synchronisation, sync, copy or migration tool (documentation)
evince-lang-3.22.1-r0 - Languages for package evince
jack-1.9.10-r2 - The Jack Audio Connection Kit
php7-intl-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: intl
php5-5.6.30-r0 - The PHP language runtime engine
samba-libs-4.5.7-r0 - Samba core libraries
gst-plugins-bad1-1.8.3-r0 - GStreamer bad plugins
docker-bash-completion-1.12.6-r0 - Bash completion for Docker
mesa-gl-12.0.3-r0 - Mesa libGL runtime libraries
nagios-plugins-mrtg-2.1.4-r2 - Nagios plugin check_mrtg
nrpe-2.15-r4 - NRPE allows you to remotely execute Nagios plugins on other Linux/Unix machines.
py2-psycopg2-2.6.2-r1 - A Python-PostgreSQL Database Adapter (for python2)
perl-mime-types-2.13-r0 - Definition of MIME types
perl-net-http-doc-6.09-r0 - Net::HTTP perl module (documentation)
shared-mime-info-lang-1.8-r0 - Languages for package shared-mime-info
altermime-0.3.11-r0 - alterMIME - MIME encoded email pack alteration tool
at-3.1.20-r0 - AT and batch delayed command scheduling utility and daemon
fbida-2.12-r0 - Few applications to display and elementary edit images

How do I search package by wildcards?

The syntax is as follows to search all php7 packages or php5 packages:
# apk search -v 'php5*'
### OR ###
# apk search -v 'php7*'

Sample outputs:

php7-intl-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: intl
php7-openssl-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: openssl
php7-dba-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: dba
php7-sqlite3-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: sqlite3
php7-pear-7.0.16-r0 - PHP Extension and Application Repository
php7-phpdbg-7.0.16-r0 - Interactive PHP debugger
php7-litespeed-7.0.16-r0 - PHP LiteSpeed SAPI
php7-gmp-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: gmp
php7-pdo_mysql-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: pdo_mysql
php7-pcntl-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: pcntl
php7-common-7.0.16-r0 - The PHP language runtime engine - 7th branch (common config)
php7-xsl-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: xsl
php7-fpm-7.0.16-r0 - PHP FastCGI Process Manager
php7-mysqlnd-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: mysqlnd
php7-enchant-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: enchant
php7-pspell-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: pspell
php7-snmp-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: snmp
php7-sockets-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: sockets
php7-soap-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: soap
php7-apcu-5.1.8-r0 - PHP extension APC User Cache
php7-sysvmsg-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: sysvmsg
php7-zlib-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: zlib
php7-ftp-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: ftp
php7-sysvsem-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: sysvsem
php7-pdo-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: pdo
php7-bz2-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: bz2
php7-mysqli-7.0.16-r0 - PHP7 extension: mysqli

How to install a package(s) by name

The syntax is:
# apk add pkgName
# apk add pkgName1 pkgName2

To install a htop package, run:
# apk add htop
Sample outputs:

(1/1) Installing htop (2.0.2-r0)
Executing busybox-1.25.1-r0.trigger
OK: 39 MiB in 28 packages

To install Apache2 along with PHP7 and modules, run:
# apk add apache2 php7-apache2 php7-gd php7-mysqli
Sample outputs:

(1/28) Installing libuuid (2.28.2-r1)
(2/28) Installing apr (1.5.2-r1)
(3/28) Installing expat (2.2.0-r0)
(4/28) Installing apr-util (1.5.4-r2)
(5/28) Installing pcre (8.39-r0)
(6/28) Installing apache2 (2.4.25-r0)
Executing apache2-2.4.25-r0.pre-install
(7/28) Installing php7-common (7.0.16-r0)
(8/28) Installing libedit (20150325.3.1-r3)
(9/28) Installing libxml2 (2.9.4-r2)
(10/28) Installing php7-apache2 (7.0.16-r0)
(11/28) Installing libxau (1.0.8-r1)
(12/28) Installing libxdmcp (1.1.2-r2)
(13/28) Installing libxcb (1.12-r0)
(14/28) Installing libx11 (1.6.4-r0)
(15/28) Installing libxext (1.3.3-r1)
(16/28) Installing libice (1.0.9-r1)
(17/28) Installing libsm (1.2.2-r0)
(18/28) Installing libxt (1.1.5-r0)
(19/28) Installing libxpm (3.5.12-r0)
(20/28) Installing libbz2 (1.0.6-r5)
(21/28) Installing libpng (1.6.25-r0)
(22/28) Installing freetype (2.7-r1)
(23/28) Installing libjpeg-turbo (1.5.1-r0)
(24/28) Installing libwebp (0.5.2-r0)
(25/28) Installing php7-gd (7.0.16-r0)
(26/28) Installing mariadb-common (10.1.22-r0)
(27/28) Installing mariadb-client-libs (10.1.22-r0)
(28/28) Installing php7-mysqli (7.0.16-r0)
Executing busybox-1.25.1-r0.trigger
OK: 64 MiB in 56 packages

Interactive install or upgrade

We can force confirmation before performing certain operations by passing the -i option:
# apk -i add nginx
# apk -i upgrade

The following packages will be upgraded:
  libcrypto1.1 libssl1.1 alpine-base linux-lts xtables-addons-lts openssh-keygen openssh-client openssh-sftp-server openssh-server-common openssh-server openssh openssl zfs-lts
After this operation, 16 KiB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

Simulation with apk command

We can simulate the requested operation without making any changes. Helpful to see what packages will be upgrades or what will be done on the Alpine Linux system:
# apk -s command
# apk -s add nginx
# apk -s upgrade

In other words, nothing was installed or upgraded on the system, but you will know precisely what apk was about to do.

How to hold a specific package back and not upgrade it

If you want to upgrade Alpine Linux system, but keep or hold a specific package add version number. For instance, to hold the bash package to the version 5.0.0-r0 level or lower, run:
# apk add bash=5.0.0-r0
One can do regex based version matching to hold the version to a major/minor release. For example:
# apk add bash=~5.0
Now, upgrade the system. However, apk will upgrade the entire system, keeping the bash package at the 5.0.0-r0 or lower level:
# apk upgrade
It is possible to remove holding. For example, make sure upgrade bash to the current lastest version, run:
# apk add bash>5.0.0-r0
Alpine Linux apk Command Examples

How do install a local .apk file package?

The syntax is as follows to add a local package named foo.apk:
# apk add --allow-untrusted /path/to/foo.apk
apk add --allow-untrusted pkg1.apk pkg2.apk

How to remove or delete a package(s) by name

The syntax is:
# apk del pkgName
# apk del pkgName1 pkgName2

To delete a htop package run:
# apk del htop
Sample outputs:

(1/1) Purging htop (2.0.2-r0)
Executing busybox-1.25.1-r0.trigger
OK: 39 MiB in 27 packages

How do I delete old packages caches on Alpine Linux?

To remove out older versions of packages, run the clean command as follows:
# apk cache clean
## or ##
# apk -v cache clean

One can also clean cache and download missing packages in one step:
# apk cache -v sync

How to upgrade running Alpine Linux

The syntax is:
# apk update && apk upgrade
You can create a bash shell alias as follows in ~/.bashrc
# echo "alias update='apk update && apk upgrade'" >> /.bashrc
Run it as follows:
# update

How do I upgrade selected packages only?

The syntax is
# apk add -u pkgName
To upgrade a htop only package:
# apk update
# apk add -u htop

How do I list installed packages?

The syntax is:
# apk info
# apk info -vv | grep 'foo'
# apk info -vv | sort

Fig.02: How do I show/list installed packages in Alpine Linux

Fig.02: How do I show/list installed packages in Alpine Linux

Find out which package a file belongs to..

to determine which package a file named /etc/passwd or /sbin/apk belongs to:
# apk info --who-owns /etc/passwd
/etc/passwd is owned by alpine-baselayout-3.0.4-r0
# apk info --who-owns /sbin/apk
/sbin/apk is owned by apk-tools-2.6.8-r2

List contents of the PACKAGE

# apk -L info pkgName
# apk -L info htop

Sample outputs:

htop-2.0.2-r0 contains:

Check if PACKAGE is installed

# apk -e info pkgName
### find out if atop PACKAGE is installed ###
# apk -e info atop

No output displayed if PACKAGE is NOT installed.

List packages that the PACKAGE depends on

# apk -R info atop
# apk -R info atop

Sample outputs:

atop-2.2_p3-r0 depends on:

List all packages depending on PACKAGE

# apk info -r pkgName
# apk info -r bash

Sample outputs:


Show installed size of PACKAGE

# apk info -s pkgName
# apk info -s atop

Sample outputs:

atop-2.2_p3-r0 installed size:

Print description for PACKAGE

# apk info -d pkgName
# apk info -d bash

Sample outputs:

bash-4.3.46-r5 description:
The GNU Bourne Again shell

Print all information about PACKAGE

# apk info -a pkgName
# apk info -a bash

Sample outputs:

apk info -a bash
bash-4.3.46-r5 description:
The GNU Bourne Again shell

bash-4.3.46-r5 webpage:

bash-4.3.46-r5 installed size:

bash-4.3.46-r5 depends on:

bash-4.3.46-r5 provides:

bash-4.3.46-r5 is required by:

bash-4.3.46-r5 contains:

bash-4.3.46-r5 triggers:

bash-4.3.46-r5 has auto-install rule:

bash-4.3.46-r5 affects auto-installation of:

bash-4.3.46-r5 replaces:

bash-4.3.46-r5 license:

How do I see statistics about repositories and installations?

Run the command:
# apk stats
Sample outputs:

  packages: 28
  dirs: 163
  files: 7097
  bytes: 41205760
  triggers: 1
  names: 11710
  packages: 7961
  num: 5934
bash-4.3# apk stats
  packages: 28
  dirs: 163
  files: 7097
  bytes: 41205760
  triggers: 1
  names: 11710
  packages: 7961
  num: 5934

apk command options and examples

Command Usage Example
apk update Update the package list apk update
apk upgrade Upgrade the system apk update
apt ugrade
apk add pkg Add a package apk add apache
apk del pkg Delete a package apk del nginx
apk search -v Search for packages apk search -v
apk search -v -d ‘nginx*’
apk search -v ‘apache*’
apk info List all installed pacakges apk info
apk fix Repair package or upgrade it without modifying main dependencies apk fix
apk policy pkg Show repository policy for packages apk policy bash
apk stats Show statistics about repositories and installations apk stats
See also
  • /etc/apk/repositories file.
  • apk man page

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🐧 2 comments so far... add one

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2 comments… add one
  • Anna Q Nguyen Sep 25, 2020 @ 16:48

    You will get an unexpected outcome to this:
    # apk add bash>5.0.0-r0

    You need to do this instead:
    # apk add "bash>5.0.0-r0"

  • Tinda Nitya Mar 28, 2021 @ 22:22

    Here is how to list the files in a Alpine package:
    # apk info -L pkg_name
    # apk info -L htop

    Here is list of files in a Alpine ‘htop’ package:

    htop-3.0.5-r1 contains:

    I hope it will be useful to someone.

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