Sometimes you want to be able to install packages on another machine without the hassle of a long apt-get install command or having to write down every single package you’ve installed.

Luckily Debian has the wonderful dpkg which has 2 methods for generating a list of installed packages and another for importing a list.

Generating a list of installed packages

sudo dpkg --get-selections > selections

This will generate a file called selections which will contain something like:

... snip ...
adduser install
apache2 install
apache2-mpm-prefork install
apache2-utils install
apache2.2-bin install
apache2.2-common install
apt install
... snip...

This is just a simple, plain text file so can be copied between servers.

Installing packages from an exported list:

This is almost just as easy, first we need to actually set the list of selected packages

dpkg --set-selections < selections

Then we need to actually do an update and install:

apt-get update && sudo apt-get -u dselect-upgrade

This last command will update your apt cache and then install all of the selected packages.

Please note that version numbers are NOT remembered so you will install the latest version of each package.