dpkg [option...] action

       This  manual is intended for users wishing to understand dpkg's command
       line options and package states in more detail than  that  provided  by
       dpkg --help.

       It  should not be used by package maintainers wishing to understand how
       dpkg will install their packages. The descriptions of  what  dpkg  does
       when installing and removing packages are particularly inadequate.

       dpkg  is  a  tool to install, build, remove and manage Debian packages.
       The primary and more user-friendly front-end for dpkg  is  aptitude(1).
       dpkg  itself  is controlled entirely via command line parameters, which
       consist of exactly one action and zero or  more  options.  The  action-
       parameter tells dpkg what to do and options control the behavior of the
       action in some way.

       dpkg can also be used as a front-end to dpkg-deb(1) and  dpkg-query(1).
       The list of supported actions can be found later on in the ACTIONS sec-
       tion. If any such action is encountered  dpkg  just  runs  dpkg-deb  or
       dpkg-query with the parameters given to it, but no specific options are
       currently passed to them, to use any such option the back-ends need  to
       be called directly.

       dpkg  maintains  some  usable information about available packages. The
       information is divided in three classes: states, selection  states  and
       flags. These values are intended to be changed mainly with dselect.

              The package is not installed on your system.

              Only the configuration files of the package exist on the system.

              The  installation  of the package has been started, but not com-
              pleted for some reason.

              The package is unpacked, but not configured.

              The package is unpacked and configuration has been started,  but
              not yet completed for some reason.

              The package awaits trigger processing by another package.

              The package is selected for  deinstallation  (i.e.  we  want  to
              remove all files, except configuration files).

       purge  The  package  is  selected  to be purged (i.e. we want to remove
              everything from system directories, even configuration files).

              A package marked reinst-required is broken  and  requires  rein-
              stallation. These packages cannot be removed, unless forced with
              option --force-remove-reinstreq.

       -i, --install package-file...
              Install the package. If --recursive or -R option  is  specified,
              package-file must refer to a directory instead.

              Installation consists of the following steps:

              1. Extract the control files of the new package.

              2.  If  another version of the same package was installed before
              the new installation, execute prerm script of the old package.

              3. Run preinst script, if provided by the package.

              4. Unpack the new files, and at the same time back  up  the  old
              files, so that if something goes wrong, they can be restored.

              5.  If  another version of the same package was installed before
              the new installation, execute the postrm script of the old pack-
              age.  Note that this script is executed after the preinst script
              of the new package, because new files are written  at  the  same
              time old files are removed.

              6.  Configure the package. See --configure for detailed informa-
              tion about how this is done.

       --unpack package-file...
              Unpack the package, but don't configure it. If --recursive or -R
              option  is  specified,  package-file  must  refer to a directory

       --configure package...|-a|--pending
              Configure a package which has been unpacked but not yet  config-
              ured.   If  -a  or  --pending  is  given instead of package, all
              unpacked but unconfigured packages are configured.

              To reconfigure a package which has already been configured,  try
              the dpkg-reconfigure(8) command instead.

              Configuring consists of the following steps:
              dpkg --configure --pending.

       -r, --remove, -P, --purge package...|-a|--pending
              Remove  an  installed  package. -r or --remove remove everything
              except conffiles. This may avoid having to reconfigure the pack-
              age  if  it  is  reinstalled later. (Conffiles are configuration
              files that are listed in the DEBIAN/conffiles control file).  -P
              or  --purge  removes  everything,  including conffiles. If -a or
              --pending is given instead of a package name, then all  packages
              unpacked,   but   marked   to  be  removed  or  purged  in  file
              /var/lib/dpkg/status, are removed or purged, respectively. Note:
              some  configuration  files might be unknown to dpkg because they
              are created and handled  separately  through  the  configuration
              scripts. In that case, dpkg won't remove them by itself, but the
              package's postrm script (which is called by dpkg), has  to  take
              care of their removal during purge. Of course, this only applies
              to files in system directories, not configuration files  written
              to individual users' home directories.

              Removing of a package consists of the following steps:

              1. Run prerm script

              2. Remove the installed files

              3. Run postrm script

       --update-avail, --merge-avail Packages-file
              Update  dpkg's  and  dselect's idea of which packages are avail-
              able. With action --merge-avail,  old  information  is  combined
              with information from Packages-file. With action --update-avail,
              old information is replaced with the information  in  the  Pack-
              ages-file.  The  Packages-file distributed with Debian is simply
              named Packages. dpkg keeps its record of available  packages  in

              A  simpler one-shot command to retrieve and update the available
              file is dselect update. Note that this file is mostly useless if
              you don't use dselect but an APT-based frontend: APT has its own
              system to keep track of available packages.

       -A, --record-avail package-file...
              Update dpkg and dselect's idea of which packages  are  available
              with  information  from the package package-file. If --recursive
              or -R option is specified, package-file must refer to  a  direc-
              tory instead.

              Now obsolete and a no-op as dpkg will automatically forget unin-
              stalled unavailable packages.

              Erase the existing information about what  packages  are  avail-
              Set  package  selections  using  file read from stdin. This file
              should be in the format 'package state', where state is  one  of
              install, hold, deinstall or purge. Blank lines and comment lines
              beginning with '#' are also permitted.

              Set the requested state of every non-essential package to  dein-
              stall.    This   is  intended  to  be  used  immediately  before
              --set-selections, to deinstall any packages not in list given to

              Searches  for  packages selected for installation, but which for
              some reason still haven't been installed.

              Print architecture of packages dpkg installs  (for  exam-
              ple, "i386").

       --foreign-architecture architecture
              Add  architecture  to the list of architectures for which
              packages can be installed without using --force-architec-
              ture,  in  addition to the architecture dpkg is built for
              (i.e.: the output of --print-architecture).

              Print a space-separated list of the  extra  architectures
              dpkg is configured to allow packages to be installed for.

       --compare-versions ver1 op ver2
              Compare  version  numbers, where op is a binary operator.
              dpkg returns success (zero result) if the specified  con-
              dition  is satisfied, and failure (nonzero result) other-
              wise. There are two groups of operators, which differ  in
              how  they  treat  an  empty  ver1 or ver2. These treat an
              empty version as earlier than any version: lt le eq ne ge
              gt.  These  treat an empty version as later than any ver-
              sion: lt-nl le-nl ge-nl gt-nl. These  are  provided  only
              for  compatibility with control file syntax: < << <= = >=
              >> >.

       --command-fd n
              Accept a series of commands on input file  descriptor  n.
              Note:  additional  options  set  on the command line, and
              through this file descriptor, are not  reset  for  subse-
              quent commands executed during the same run.

       --help Display a brief help message.

              Give help about the --force-thing options.

       -Dh, --debug=help
                  List contents of a deb package.
              -e, --control filename [directory]
                  Extract control-information from a package.
              -x, --extract archive directory
                  Extract the files contained by package.
              -X, --vextract archive directory
                  Extract and display the filenames contained by a
              -f, --field  archive [control-field...]
                  Display control field(s) of a package.
              --fsys-tarfile archive
                  Display the filesystem tar-file contained by a
                  Debian package.
              -I, --info archive [control-file...]
                  Show information about a package.

       dpkg-query actions
              See dpkg-query(1) for more information about the  follow-
              ing actions.

              -l, --list package-name-pattern...
                  List packages matching given pattern.
              -s, --status package-name...
                  Report status of specified package.
              -L, --listfiles package-name...
                  List files installed to your system from package-name.
              -S, --search filename-search-pattern...
                  Search for a filename from installed packages.
              -p, --print-avail package-name...
                  Display details about package-name, as found in
                  /var/lib/dpkg/available. Users of APT-based frontends
                  should use apt-cache show package-name instead.

       All options can be specified both on the command line and in the
       dpkg configuration file /etc/dpkg/dpkg.cfg or the files  on  the
       configuration  directory /etc/dpkg/dpkg.cfg.d/. Each line in the
       configuration file is either an option (exactly the same as  the
       command line option but without leading dashes) or a comment (if
       it starts with a #).

              Change after how many errors dpkg will abort. The default
              is 50.

       -B, --auto-deconfigure
              When  a  package  is removed, there is a possibility that
              another installed package depended on the  removed  pack-
              age.  Specifying  this option will cause automatic decon-
              figuration of the package which depended on  the  removed

                     200   Lots of output for each configuration file
                      40   Dependencies and conflicts
                     400   Lots of dependencies/conflicts output
                   10000   Trigger activation and processing
                   20000   Lots of output regarding triggers
                   40000   Silly amounts of output regarding triggers
                    1000   Lots of drivel about e.g. the dpkg/info dir
                    2000   Insane amounts of drivel

       --force-things, --no-force-things, --refuse-things

              Force or refuse (no-force and refuse mean the same thing)
              to  do  some  things. things is a comma separated list of
              things specified below. --force-help displays  a  message
              describing  them.   Things  marked with (*) are forced by

              Warning: These options are mostly intended to be used  by
              experts  only.  Using  them  without  fully understanding
              their effects may break your whole system.

              all: Turns on (or off) all force options.

              downgrade(*): Install a package, even if newer version of
              it is already installed.

              Warning:  At  present  dpkg  does  not  do any dependency
              checking on downgrades and therefore will not warn you if
              the  downgrade  breaks the dependency of some other pack-
              age. This can  have  serious  side  effects,  downgrading
              essential system components can even make your whole sys-
              tem unusable. Use with care.

              configure-any: Configure also any unpacked but  unconfig-
              ured packages on which the current package depends.

              hold: Process packages even when marked "hold".

              remove-reinstreq:  Remove  a package, even if it's broken
              and marked to require reinstallation. This may, for exam-
              ple,  cause parts of the package to remain on the system,
              which will then be forgotten by dpkg.

              remove-essential: Remove, even if the package is  consid-
              ered  essential.  Essential  packages contain mostly very
              basic Unix commands. Removing them might cause the  whole
              system to stop working, so use with caution.

              depends: Turn all dependency problems into warnings.

              depends-version:  Don't care about versions when checking

              breaks: Install, even if this would break  another  pack-
              --force-confdef  is  also  specified,  in  which case the
              default action is preferred.

              confold: If a conffile has been modified always keep  the
              old version without prompting, unless the --force-confdef
              is also specified, in which case the  default  action  is

              confdef:  If  a  conffile has been modified always choose
              the default action. If there is no default action it will
              stop   to   ask   the   user  unless  --force-confnew  or
              --force-confold is also been given, in which case it will
              use that to decide the final action.

              confask:  If a conffile has been modified always offer to
              replace it with the version in the package, even  if  the
              version  in  the  package  did  not  change.  If  any  of
              --force-confmiss,  --force-confnew,  --force-confold,  or
              --force-confdef  is also given, it will be used to decide
              the final action.

              overwrite: Overwrite one package's  file  with  another's

              overwrite-dir  Overwrite  one  package's  directory  with
              another's file.

              overwrite-diverted: Overwrite a  diverted  file  with  an
              undiverted version.

              unsafe-io:  Do  not  perform  safe  I/O  operations  when
              unpacking. Currently this  implies  not  performing  file
              system syncs before file renames, which is known to cause
              substantial performance degradation on some file systems,
              unfortunately  the  ones that require the safe I/O on the
              first place due to  their  unreliable  behaviour  causing
              zero-length files on abrupt system crashes.

              Note: For ext4, the main offender, consider using instead
              the mount option nodelalloc, which will fix both the per-
              formance degradation and the data safety issues, the lat-
              ter by making the file  system  not  produce  zero-length
              files  on  abrupt  system  crashes  with any software not
              doing syncs before atomic renames.

              Warning: Using this option might improve  performance  at
              the cost of losing data, use with care.

              architecture:  Process  even  packages  with  wrong or no

              bad-version: Process even packages with wrong versions.

              bad-path: PATH is missing important programs, so problems

       --no-act, --dry-run, --simulate
              Do everything which is supposed to  be  done,  but  don't
              write  any changes. This is used to see what would happen
              with the specified  action,  without  actually  modifying

              Be  sure to give --no-act before the action-parameter, or
              you might end up with  undesirable  results.  (e.g.  dpkg
              --purge  foo  --no-act  will  first purge package foo and
              then try to purge package --no-act, even though you prob-
              ably expected it to actually do nothing)

       -R, --recursive
              Recursively  handle  all  regular  files matching pattern
              *.deb found at specified directories and all of its  sub-
              directories.  This  can  be  used with -i, -A, --install,
              --unpack and --avail actions.

       -G     Don't install a package if a newer version  of  the  same
              package  is  already  installed.  This  is  an  alias  of

              Change default administrative directory,  which  contains
              many   files   that  give  information  about  status  of
              installed or uninstalled  packages,  etc.   (Defaults  to

              Change default installation directory which refers to the
              directory where packages are to be installed. instdir  is
              also  the  directory  passed  to chroot(2) before running
              package's installation  scripts,  which  means  that  the
              scripts see instdir as a root directory.  (Defaults to /)

              Changing  root  changes  instdir  to  dir and admindir to

       -O, --selected-only
              Only process the packages that are selected for installa-
              tion. The actual marking is done with dselect or by dpkg,
              when it handles packages. For example, when a package  is
              removed, it will be marked selected for deinstallation.

       -E, --skip-same-version
              Don't  install  the  package  if  the same version of the
              package is already installed.

              Set an invoke hook command to be run via "sh  -c"  before
              or after the dpkg run for the unpack, configure, install,
              re-including previously excluded paths matching the spec-
              ified patterns during install.

              Warning: take into account that depending on the excluded
              paths you might completely break your  system,  use  with

              The  glob  patterns  use  the  same wildcards used in the
              shell, were  '*'  matches  any  sequence  of  characters,
              including  the  empty  string  and also '/'. For example,
              '/usr/*/READ*'  matches  '/usr/share/doc/package/README'.
              As  usual,  '?'  matches  any  single  character  (again,
              including '/'). And '[' starts a character  class,  which
              can contain a list of characters, ranges and complementa-
              tions. See glob(7) for detailed information  about  glob-
              bing.  Note:  the current implementation might re-include
              more directories and symlinks than needed, to be  on  the
              safe side and avoid possible unpack failures, future work
              might fix this.

              This can be used to remove all paths except some particu-
              lar ones; a typical case is:


              to  remove  all  documentation files except the copyright

              These two options can be specified  multiple  times,  and
              interleaved  with  each  other. Both are processed in the
              given order, with the last rule that matches a file  name
              making the decision.

       --status-fd n
              Send  machine-readable package status and progress infor-
              mation to file descriptor n. This option can be specified
              multiple  times.  The information is generally one record
              per line, in one of the following forms:

              status: package: status
                     Package status changed; status is as in the status

              status: package : error : extended-error-message
                     An   error  occurred.  Any  possible  newlines  in
                     extended-error-message will be converted to spaces
                     before output.

              status:  file  :  conffile-prompt : 'real-old' 'real-new'
              useredited distedited
                     User is being asked a conffile question.

              processing: stage: package
              Log  status  change  updates  and  actions  to  filename,
              instead  of the default /var/log/dpkg.log. If this option
              is given multiple times, the last filename is  used.  Log
              messages  are  of  the  form  `YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS status
              state pkg installed-version' for status  change  updates;
              `YYYY-MM-DD  HH:MM:SS action pkg installed-version avail-
              able-version' for actions where action is one of install,
              upgrade, remove, purge; and `YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS conffile
              filename decision' for conffile changes where decision is
              either install or keep.

              Do not try to verify package signatures.

              Do  not  run  any  triggers in this run (activations will
              still be recorded).  If used with --configure package  or
              --triggers-only  package  then the named package postinst
              will still be run even if only a triggers run is  needed.
              Use  of  this  option  may leave packages in the improper
              triggers-awaited and triggers-pending states. This can be
              fixed later by running: dpkg --configure --pending.

              Cancels a previous --no-triggers.

              Configuration file with default options.

              Default  log  file  (see /etc/dpkg/dpkg.cfg(5) and option

       The other files listed below are in their  default  directories,
       see  option  --admindir  to see how to change locations of these

              List of available packages.

              Statuses of available packages. This file contains infor-
              mation  about whether a package is marked for removing or
              not, whether it is installed or  not,  etc.  See  section
              INFORMATION ABOUT PACKAGES for more info.

              The  status  file  is backed up daily in /var/backups. It
              can be useful if it's lost or corrupted due  to  filesys-
              tems troubles.

       The  following  files  are  components  of a binary package. See
       deb(5) for more information about them:

       HOME   If set, dpkg will use it as the directory from  which  to
              read the user specific configuration file.

       TMPDIR If  set,  dpkg  will  use it as the directory in which to
              create temporary files and directories.

       PAGER  The program dpkg will execute when displaying  the  conf-

       SHELL  The program dpkg will execute when starting a new shell.

              Sets  the number of columns dpkg should use when display-
              ing formatted text. Currently only used by -l.

              Defined by dpkg on the  shell  spawned  on  the  conffile
              prompt  to  examine  the  situation. Current valid value:

              Defined by dpkg on the  shell  spawned  on  the  conffile
              prompt to examine the situation. Contains the path to the
              old conffile.

              Defined by dpkg on the  shell  spawned  on  the  conffile
              prompt to examine the situation. Contains the path to the
              new conffile.

              Defined by dpkg on the maintainer script  environment  to
              the version of the currently running dpkg instance.

              Defined  by  dpkg on the maintainer script environment to
              the package name being handled.

              Defined by dpkg on the maintainer script  environment  to
              the architecture the package got built for.

              Defined  by  dpkg on the maintainer script environment to
              the name of the script running (preinst, postinst, prerm,

       To list packages related to the editor vi(1):
            dpkg -l '*vi*'

       To see the entries in /var/lib/dpkg/available of two packages:
            dpkg --print-avail elvis vim | less

       To make a local copy of the package selection states:
            dpkg --get-selections >myselections

       You might transfer this file to another computer, and install it
       there with:
            dpkg --clear-selections
            dpkg --set-selections <myselections

       Note that this will not actually install or remove anything, but
       just set the selection state on the requested packages. You will
       need some other application to actually download and install the
       requested packages. For example, run apt-get dselect-upgrade.

       Ordinarily, you will find that dselect(1) provides a more conve-
       nient way to modify the package selection states.

       Additional functionality can be gained by installing any of  the
       following packages: apt, aptitude and debsums.

       aptitude(1),  apt(1),  dselect(1),  dpkg-deb(1),  dpkg-query(1),
       deb(5), deb-control(5), dpkg.cfg(5), and dpkg-reconfigure(8).

       --no-act usually gives less information than might be helpful.

       See /usr/share/doc/dpkg/THANKS for the list of people  who  have
       contributed to dpkg.

Debian Project                    2011-08-14                           dpkg(1)
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