Restore Synaptic Mark All Upgrades Button in Linux Mint

July 16, 2013 by
Filed under: HowTo, linux, Linux Mint 

I recently reviewed Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Edition and one reader pointed out in the comments that the Mint team removes functionality from the Synaptic Package Manager. Specifically, the Mark All Upgrades button is missing from the tool bar and the menu selection is also missing from the Edit menu. After doing a little bit of research, I was able to figure out how to undo the changes made to Synaptic by the Linux Mint team. In the following tutorial I'll show how to restore the Synaptic Mark All Upgrades button in Linux Mint.

Where did that button go?

As I mentioned in the introduction, the Mark All Upgrades button is missing from Synaptic in Linux Mint. I think the philosophy of the developers is that you should use the Mint Update Manager with its priority system to apply system package updates. If you're coming to Linux Mint from Ubuntu or Debian, then you're probably used to being able to anything you want in Synaptic.  Click on the screenshot below to see how Synaptic looks in a default installation of Linux Mint 15.

Synaptic in Linux Mint as shipped

Synaptic in Linux Mint as shipped - Click to enlarge

As you can see, there is no Mark All Upgrades button on the toolbar.

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Re-enable the Synaptic Mark All Upgrades button

The key to getting the button back is knowing where the Linux Mint customizations are made to its Ubuntu base. Some of these customizations are done with small files in the /etc/linuxmint/adjustments directory. There is a file in that directory called 10-mintsystem-synaptic.overwrite. You could delete that file, reinstall Synaptic, and sure enough you'd have your button back. The problem is, updating your system is likely to put that file right back there and taking the button away again. But there is an easy solution. From the README file in that directory:

.overwrite files define files which are to be overwritten. Each line in these files trigger the overwriting of the destination by the source, with the line following the format:

source destination

.overwrites files are read by alphabetical order and all overwritings are done in the end. If a destination appears more than once, only its last occurence is taken into account.

.preserve files are read at the beginning. They can contain a list of destinations (one by line). Each destination appearing in a .preserve file doesn't get overwriten, whether or not it appears in .overwrites files.

So as you can see from the README file, all you need to do is create a .preserve file with the correct lines in it and that will prevent the .overwrite file from being used. I'm going to create a file called 05-synaptic.preserve in the /etc/linuxmint/adjustments directory with the following content:


You can use sudo and your favorite text editor to create and save that file, or you can just paste the following long command into a terminal window.

echo /usr/share/synaptic/glade/ | sudo tee -a /etc/linuxmint/adjustments/05-synaptic.preserve && echo /usr/share/synaptic/gtkbuilder/window_main.ui | sudo tee -a /etc/linuxmint/adjustments/05-synaptic.preserve

Now that you have your .preserve file you need to reinstall Synaptic. Use this command to take care of that.

sudo apt-get --reinstall install synaptic

Now open up the Synaptic package manager and you should now see the Mark All Upgrades button on the toolbar. If for some reason you don't see the button, try rebooting your system.

Synaptic with Mark All Upgrades enabled

Synaptic with Mark All Upgrades enabled - Click to enlarge

How to remove the button again

I don't know why you'd want to, but if you ever want to change Synaptic back to the way it was without the button, just remove the .preserve file that you made and reinstall Synaptic.

sudo rm /etc/linuxmint/adjustments/05-synaptic.preserve
sudo apt-get --reinstall install synaptic

Reboot your system and when you start Synaptic again you will see that the Mark All Upgrades button is gone again.

So what's your preferred way to handle updates? Do you like Synaptic? Update Manager? Command line? Let me know in the comments.

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3 Responses to “Restore Synaptic Mark All Upgrades Button in Linux Mint”

  1. Don Humberson says:

    I really do prefer apt-get, but I paid the cost to get up that learning curve a long time ago. Among GUI tools for Debian branch distros my top choice is Synaptic, both because it simply performs faster and because it gets in my way less.

  2. terry says:

    well that was so easy.....thankyou so much......
    not sure if i need this button but anyway...
    i am impressed

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