Oct 272012

Sometimes it’s useful to tell to our GNU/Linux system that we want to keep some packages on Hold or that we do not want to update them , for example you could have added a custom kernel and you don’t want that during an update the standard kernel takes its place, or perhaps you want to test some specific version.

These instructions are tested with distributions that use packages in the .deb format (such as Debian, Ubuntu and Mint), .rpm based distributions that use yum (Red Hat Enterprise, Centos, Fedora) and Gentoo.

Deb based distributions

There are different ways of holding back packages, I’ll show you with dpkg and aptitude, they do exactly the same thing so you can choose the one you like more.

Using dpkg

Put a package on hold

echo "package hold" | dpkg --set-selections


echo "tomboy hold" | dpkg --set-selections

This command gives no output.
If you change your mind and you want to remove the hold on that package you can use

echo "package install" | dpkg --set-selections


echo "apache2 install" | dpkg --set-selections

This command gives no output.
If you want to know the status of a package you can use the command:

dpkg --get-selections package


mint-desktop ~ # dpkg --get-selections tomboy
tomboy						install

Using aptitude

With aptitude, you can hold a package using

#aptitude hold package_name


#aptitude hold tomboy

and remove the hold with

aptitude unhold package_name


#aptitude unhold tomboy

RPM based distributions

For the distribution that use yum you can put a package in “hold” editing the file /etc/yum.conf ad adding a line with the directive exclude:


So for example you could use


To exclude the package tomboy and all php and kernel packages from being updated with the command yum update.


Gentoo uses the file /etc/portage/package.keywords to configure when to use a particular version of a package. Simply list the package and add the specific version you want to keep on your system, so for example you could add the line:


To have this exact version of ruby on your system and don’t update it.

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