Knowledge Base:Remove orphaned packages

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During regular system maintenance jobs, software packages will be pulled in as dependencies of other packages. When the other packages are removed from the system, these dependencies will remain and become orphaned packages. It is recommended to remove orphaned packages so that no unnecessary space is used. This action should be taken for security reasons because orphaned packages are not updated during regular @system or @world update sessions.


Any Gentoo Linux environment.


When a user installs software, the software title itself is registered in the user's world file. During the installation, the necessary dependencies are also pulled in and installed. These packages however are not registered in the world file.

When software is removed from the system, its entry in the world file (if applicable) is removed as well. The dependencies of that software however remain on the system since it is possible that the dependencies are also used by other (installed) software titles.

To support clean-up of orphaned packages (software packages that are not in the dependency tree of any installed software title(s)) Gentoo's Portage supports a --depclean option. This option will scan the installed software and all dependency trees, identify the orphaned packages, and remove them.


First, make sure that the system is up to date and that no open installation jobs are pending:

root #emerge --ask --verbose --update --deep --newuse @world

Then, invoke emerge --ask --depclean to remove orphaned packages (it will ask for confirmation):

root #emerge --ask --depclean

Review changes carefully. If emerge --depclean has not been run in a while, it may try to remove many packages - caution is advised.

Running emerge --depclean can in some cases try to remove vital packages. Check the provided list of "obsoleted" packages to make sure it doesn't remove packages that are needed. Take particular care not to remove current kernel sources, a required version of GCC, or required packages that were tacitly installed as a virtual package dependency, for example.

Keep specific packages

If emerge --depclean would remove packages that should not be removed, the --exclude option could temporally be used, or they can be added to the world set (preferred), for example:

root #emerge --noreplace <atom>

Check for "obsolete" packages

To test if any obsolete packages are still found on the system, use the eix utility, which comes with the following useful command:

root #eix-test-obsolete
The eix utility can be obtained on a system by emerging the app-portage/eix package.

See also