List of software package management systems

This is a list of software package management systems, categorized first by package format (binary, source code, hybrid) and then by operating system family.

Binary packages

The following package management systems distribute apps in binary package form; i.e., all apps are compiled and ready to be installed and use.



  • apk-tools (apk): Alpine Package Keeper, the package manager for Alpine Linux;
  • dpkg: Originally used by Debian and now by Ubuntu. Uses the .deb format and was the first to have a widely known dependency resolution tool, APT. The ncurses-based front-end for APT, aptitude, is also a popular package manager for Debian-based systems;
  • Entropy: Used by and created for Sabayon Linux. It works with binary packages that are bzip2-compressed tar archives (file extension: .tbz2), that are created using Entropy itself, from tbz2 binaries produced by Portage: From ebuilds, a type of specialized shell script;
  • Flatpak: A containerized/sandboxed packaging format previously known as xdg-app;
  • GNU Guix: Used by the GNU System. It is based on the Nix package manager with Guile Scheme APIs and specializes in providing exclusively free software;
  • ipkg: A dpkg-inspired, very lightweight system targeted at storage-constrained Linux systems such as embedded devices and handheld computers. Used on HP's webOS;
  • netpkg;
  • Nix Package Manager: Nix is a powerful package manager for Linux and other Unix systems that makes package management reliable and reproducible. It provides atomic upgrades and rollbacks, side-by-side installation of multiple versions of a package, multi-user package management and easy setup of build environments;
  • OpenPKG: Cross-platform package management system based on RPM Package Manager;
  • opkg: Fork of ipkg lightweight package management intended for use on embedded Linux devices;
  • pacman: Used in Arch Linux, Frugalware and DeLi Linux. Its binary package format is a xz-compressed tar archive (file extension: .pkg.tar.xz) built using the makepkg utility (which comes bundled with pacman) and a specialized type of shell script called a PKGBUILD;
  • PETget: Used by Puppy Linux;
  • PISI: Used by Pardus;
  • pkgsrc: A cross-platform package manager, with binary packages provided for Enterprise Linux, macOS and SmartOS by Joyent and other vendors;
  • RPM Package Manager: Created by Red Hat. RPM is the Linux Standard Base packaging format and the base of a number of additional tools, including apt4rpm, Red Hat's up2date, Mageia's urpmi, openSUSE's ZYpp (zypper), PLD Linux's poldek, Fedora's DNF, and YUM, which is used by Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Yellow Dog Linux;
  • slackpkg;
  • slapt-get: Which is used by Slackware and works with a binary package format that is essentially a xz-compressed tar archive with the file extension .txz;
  • Smart Package Manager: Used by CCux Linux;
  • Snappy: Cross-distribution package manager, originally developed for Ubuntu;
  • Steam: A cross-platform video game distribution, licensing and social gameplay platform, developed and maintained by Valve. Used to shop for, download, install, update, uninstall and back up video games. Works on Windows NT, OS X and Linux;
  • swaret;
  • XBPS (X Binary Package System): designed and implemented from scratch. Its goal is to be fast, easy to use, bug-free, featureful and portable as much as possible. The XBPS code is totally compatible with POSIX/SUSv2/C99 standards, and released with a Simplified BSD license (2 clause). There is a well documented API provided by the XBPS Library that is the basis for its frontends to handle binary packages and repositories. Used by Void Linux;
  • Zero Install (0install): Cross-platform packaging and distributions software. It is available for Arch Linux, Debian, Knoppix, Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, OpenSUSE, Red Hat and Slackware;
  • zpkg: Installs any package in managed chroot environments.

macOS (OS X)

  • Mac App Store: Official digital distribution platform for OS X apps. Part of OS X 10.7 and available as an update for OS X 10.6;
  • Homebrew: Package manager for OS X, based on Git;
  • Fink: A port of dpkg, it is one of the earliest package managers for OS X;
  • MacPorts: Formerly known as DarwinPorts, based on FreeBSD Ports (as is OS X itself);
  • Joyent: Provides a repository of 10,000+ binary packages for OS X based on pkgsrc[1];
  • Zero Install (0install): Cross-platform packaging and distributions software. Uses GnuPG and GTK+ on OS X;
  • Steam: A cross-platform video game distribution, licensing and social gameplay platform, developed and maintained by Valve. Used to shop for, download, install, update, uninstall and back up video games. Works on Windows NT, OS X and Linux.


  • FreeBSD Ports;
  • OpenBSD ports: The infrastructure behind the binary packages on OpenBSD;
  • pkgsrc: A cross-platform package manager, with regular binary packages provided for NetBSD, Linux and macOS by multiple vendors;
  • dpkg: Used as part of Debian GNU/kFreeBSD;
  • OpenPKG: Cross-platform package management system based on rpm;
  • PC-BSD: Up to and including version 8.2[2] uses files with the .pbi (Push Button Installer) filename extension which, when double-clicked, bring up an installation wizard program. Each PBI is self-contained and uses de-duplicated private dependencies to avoid version conflicts. An autobuild system tracks the FreeBSD ports collection and generates new PBIs daily. PC-BSD also uses the FreeBSD pkg binary package system; new packages are built approximately every two weeks from both a stable and rolling release branch of the FreeBSD ports tree.







Source code-based

The following package management systems distribute the source code of their apps. Either the user must know how to compile the packages, or they come with a script that automates the compilation process. For example, in GoboLinux a recipe file contains information on how to download, unpack, compile and install a package using its Compile tool. In both cases, the user must provide the computing power and time needed to compile the app, and is legally responsible for the consequences of compiling the package.

  • ABS is used by Arch Linux to automate binary packages building from source or even other binary archives, with automatic download and dependency checking;
  • apt-build is used by distributions which use deb packages, allowing automatic compiling and installation of software in a deb source repository;
  • Sorcery is Sourcemage GNU/Linux's bash based package management program that automatically downloads software from their original site and compiles and installs it on the local machine;
  • XBPS source packages collection.

macOS (OS X)

  • fink, for OS X, derives partially from dpkg/apt and partially from ports;
  • MacPorts, formerly called DarwinPorts, originated from the OpenDarwin project;
  • Homebrew, with close Git integration;
  • pkgsrc can be used to install software directly from source-code, or to use the binary packages provided by several independent vendors.


Hybrid systems

  • GoFish is a cross-platform systems package manager, bringing the ease of use of Homebrew to Linux and Windows;
  • Nix package manager: Package manager that manages software in a purely functional way, featuring multi-user support, atomic upgrades and rollbacks. Allows multiple versions or variants of a software to be installed at the same time. It has support for macOS and is cross-distribution in its Linux support;
  • Portage and emerge are used by Gentoo Linux, Funtoo Linux, and Sabayon Linux. It is inspired by the BSD ports system and uses text based "ebuilds" to automatically download, customize, build, and update packages from source code. It has automatic dependency checking and allows multiple versions of a software package to be installed into different "slots" on the same system. Portage also employs "use flags" to allow the user to fully customize a software build to suit the needs of their platform in an automated fashion. While source code distribution and customization is the preferred methodology, some larger packages that would take many hours to compile on a typical desktop computer are also offered as pre-compiled binaries in order to ease installation;
  • Upkg: Package management and build system based on Mono and XML specifications. Used by paldo and previously by ExTiX Linux;
  • MacPorts (for OS X);
  • NetBSD's pkgsrc works on several Unix-like operating systems, with regular binary packages for macOS and Linux provided by multiple independent vendors;
  • Collective Knowledge Framework is a cross-platform package and workflow framework with JSON API that can download binary packages or build them from sources for Linux, Windows, MacOS and Android platforms[7].

Meta package managers

The following unify package management for several or all Linux and sometimes Unix variants. These, too, are based on the concept of a recipe file.

  • AppImage (previously klik and PortableLinuxApps) aims to provide an easy way to get software packages for most major distributions without the dependency problems so common in many other package formats.
  • Autopackage uses .package files.
  • Zero Install installs each package into its own directory and uses environment variables to let each program find its libraries. Package and dependency information is downloaded directly from the software authors' pages in an XML format, similar to an RSS feed.
  • PackageKit is a set of utilities and libraries for creating applications that can manage packages across multiple package managers using back-ends to call the correct program.

Proprietary software systems

A wide variety of package management systems are in common use today by proprietary software operating systems, handling the installation of both proprietary and free packages.

Application-level Dependency managers

See also


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