dselect(1)                          Debian                          dselect(1)

       dselect - Debian package management frontend

       dselect [option...] [command...]

       dselect  is one of the primary user interfaces for managing packages on
       a Debian system. At the dselect main  menu,  the  system  administrator
        - Update the list of available package versions,
        - View the status of installed and available packages,
        - Alter package selections and manage dependencies,
        - Install new packages or upgrade to newer versions.

       dselect  operates as a front-end to dpkg(1), the low-level debian pack-
       age handling tool. It features a full-screen package selections manager
       with  package depends and conflicts resolver. When run with administra-
       tor privileges, packages can be installed, upgraded and removed.  Vari-
       ous access methods can be configured to retrieve available package ver-
       sion information and installable packages  from  package  repositories.
       Depending  on  the used access method, these repositories can be public
       archive servers on the internet, local archive servers or cdroms.   The
       recommended access method is apt, which is provided by the package apt.

       Normally  dselect is invoked without parameters. An interactive menu is
       presented, offering the user a list of commands. If a command is  given
       as  argument, then that command is started immediately. Several command
       line parameters are still available to modify the running behaviour  of
       dselect or show additional information about the program.

       All  options  can be specified both on the command line and in the dse-
       lect configuration file /etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg or the files on the  con-
       figuration directory /etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg.d/. Each line in the config-
       uration file is either an option (exactly the same as the command  line
       option  but  without leading hyphens) or a comment (if it starts with a

       --admindir directory
              Changes the directory where the dpkg 'status',  'available'  and
              similar  files  are located.  This defaults to /var/lib/dpkg and
              normally there shouldn't be any need to change it.

       -Dfile, --debug file
              Turn on debugging. Debugging information is sent to file.

              Turns on expert mode, i.e.  doesn't  display  possibly  annoying
              help messages.

       --colour|--color screenpart:[foreground],[background][:attr[+attr]...]
              Configures  screen  colors. This works only if your display sup-
              ports colors.  This option may be used multiple  times  (and  is
              best  used  in  dselect.cfg).  Each  use  changes the color (and
              optionally, other attributes) of one part of  the  screen.   The
              parts of the screen (from top to bottom) are:

              title  The screen title.

                     The header line above the list of packages.

              list   The scrolling list of packages (and also some help text).

                     The selected item in the list.

                     In  the list of packages, the text indicating the current
                     state of each package.

                     In the list of packages, the text indicating the  current
                     state of the currently selected package.

                     The  header line that displays the state of the currently
                     selected package.

                     The package's short description.

              info   Used to  display  package  info  such  as  the  package's

                     The last line of the screen when selecting packages.

              query  Used to display query lines

                     Color of help screens.

              After  the part of the screen comes a colon and the color speci-
              fication. You can specify either the foreground color, the back-
              ground  color,  or  both, overriding the compiled-in colors. Use
              standard curses color names.

              Optionally, after the color specification is another colon,  and
              an  attribute  specification.  This  is  a  list  of one or more
              attributes,  separated  by  plus  ('+')  characters.   Available
              attributes  include  (not  all  of these will work on all termi-
              nals): normal, standout, underline, reverse, blink, bright, dim,

       -?, --help
              Print a brief help text and exit successfully.

              Print version information and exit successfully.

       When  dselect  is started it can perform the following commands, either
       directly if it was specified on the command line or  by  prompting  the
       user with a menu of available commands if running interactively:

       Choose and configure an access method to access package repositories.

       By  default,  dselect provides several methods such as cdrom, multi_cd,
       nfs, multi_nfs, harddisk, mounted,  multi_mount,  floppy  or  ftp,  but
       other  packages  may  provide  additional  methods,  eg. the apt access
       method provided by the apt package.

       The use of the apt access method is strongly recommended.

       Refresh the available packages database.

       Retrieves a list of available package versions from the package reposi-
       tory,  configured  for  the  current access method, and update the dpkg
       database. The package lists are commonly provided by the repository  as
       files  named  Packages or Packages.gz.  These files can be generated by
       repository maintainers, using the program dpkg-scanpackages(1).

       Details of the update command depend on the access method's implementa-
       tion.   Normally  the  process  is straightforward and requires no user

       View or manage package selections and dependencies.

       This is the main function of dselect. In the select  screen,  the  user
       can  review  a  list  of all available and installed packages. When run
       with administrator privileges, it is  also  possible  to  interactively
       change  packages  selection  state.  dselect tracks the implications of
       these changes to other depending or conflicting packages.

       When a conflict or failed depends is detected, a dependency  resolution
       subscreen  is prompted to the user. In this screen, a list of conflict-
       ing or depending packages is shown, and for each  package  listed,  the
       reason  for  its  listing  is shown. The user may apply the suggestions
       proposed by dselect, override  them,  or  back  out  all  the  changes,
       including the ones that created the unresolved depends or conflicts.

       The  use  of  the  interactive  package selections management screen is
       explained in more detail below.

       Installs selected packages.

       The configured access method will fetch installable or upgradable pack-
       ages  from  the  relevant  repositories  and  install these using dpkg.
       Depending on the implementation of the access method, all packages  can
       be prefetched before installation, or fetched when needed.  Some access
       methods may also remove packages that were marked for removal.

       If an error occurred during install, it is  usually  advisable  to  run
       install again. In most cases, the problems will disappear or be solved.
       If problems persist or the installation performed was incorrect, please
       investigate  into  the  causes and circumstances, and file a bug in the
       Debian bug tracking system. Instructions on how to do this can be found
       at  https://bugs.debian.org/ or by reading the documentation for bug(1)
       or reportbug(1), if these are installed.

       Details of the install command depend on the access method's  implemen-
       tation.   The user's attention and input may be required during instal-
       lation, configuration or removal of packages. This depends on the main-
       tainer scripts in the package. Some packages make use of the debconf(1)
       library, allowing for more flexible or even automated installation set-

       Configures any previously installed, but not fully configured packages.

       Removes or purges installed packages, that are marked for removal.

       Quit dselect.

       Exits the program with zero (successful) errorcode.

       dselect  directly exposes the administrator to some of the complexities
       involved with managing large sets of packages with many  interdependen-
       cies.  For  a  user who is unfamiliar with the concepts and the ways of
       the debian package management system, it  can  be  quite  overwhelming.
       Although  dselect is aimed at easing package management and administra-
       tion, it is only instrumental in doing so and can not be assumed to  be
       a  sufficient substitute for administrator skill and understanding. The
       user is required to be familiar with the concepts underlying the Debian
       packaging  system.   In  case of doubt, consult the dpkg(1) manpage and
       the Debian Policy manual, contained in the debian-policy package.

       Unless dselect is run in expert or immediate mode,  a  help  screen  is
       first  displayed  when choosing this command from the menu. The user is
       strongly advised to study all  of  the  information  presented  in  the
       online  help screens, when one pops up.  The online help screens can at
       any time be invoked with the '?' key.

   Screen layout
       The select screen is by default split in a top and a bottom half.   The
       top  half shows a list of packages. A cursor bar can select an individ-
       ual package, or a group of packages, if applicable,  by  selecting  the
       group  header.  The  bottom half of the screen shows some details about
       the package currently selected in the top half of the screen.  The type
       of detail that is displayed can be varied.

       Pressing  the  'I'  key  toggles  a full-screen display of the packages
       list, an enlarged view of the package details,  or  the  equally  split

   Package details view
       The package details view by default shows the extended package descrip-
       tion for the package that is currently selected in the packages  status
       list.  The type of detail can be toggled by pressing the 'i' key.  This
       alternates between:
        - the extended description
        - the control information for the installed version
        - the control information for the available version

       In a dependency resolution screen, there is  also  the  possibility  of
       viewing  the  specific  unresolved  depends or conflicts related to the
       package and causing it to be listed.

   Packages status list
       The main select screen displays a list of all  packages  known  to  the
       debian  package  management system. This includes packages installed on
       the system and packages known from the available packages database.

       For every package, the list shows the package's status, priority,  sec-
       tion,  installed  and  available  architecture, installed and available
       versions, the package name and its short description, all in one  line.
       By  pressing  the  'A'  key, the display of the installed and available
       architecture can be toggled between on an off.   By  pressing  the  'V'
       key,  the display of the installed and available version can be toggled
       between on an off.  By pressing the 'v' key, the package status display
       is  toggled  between  verbose  and shorthand.  Shorthand display is the

       The shorthand status indication consists of four parts: an error  flag,
       which  should normally be clear, the current status, the last selection
       state and the current selection state.  The first  two  relate  to  the
       actual  state  of the package, the second pair are about the selections
       set by the user.

       These are the meanings of the shorthand package status indicator codes:
        Error flag:
         empty   no error
         R       serious error, needs reinstallation;
        Installed state:
         empty   not installed;
         *       fully installed and configured;
         -       not installed but some config files may remain;
         U       unpacked but not yet configured;
         C       half-configured (an error happened);
         I       half-installed (an error happened).
        Current and requested selections:
         *       marked for installation or upgrade;
         -       marked for removal, configuration files remain;
         =       on hold: package will not be processed at all;
         _       marked for purge, also remove configuration;
         n       package is new and has yet to be marked.

   Cursor and screen movement
       The package selection  list  and  the  dependency  conflict  resolution
       screens  can be navigated using motion commands mapped to the following
         p, Up, k           move cursor bar up
         n, Down, j         move cursor bar down
         P, Pgup, Backspace scroll list 1 page up
         N, Pgdn, Space     scroll list 1 page down
         ^p                 scroll list 1 line up
         ^n                 scroll list 1 line down
         t, Home            jump to top of list
         e, End             jump to end of list
         u                  scroll info 1 page up
         d                  scroll info 1 page down
         ^u                 scroll info 1 line up
         ^d                 scroll info 1 line down
         B, Left-arrow      pan display 1/3 screen left
         F, Right-arrow     pan display 1/3 screen right
         ^b                 pan display 1 character left
         ^f                 pan display 1 character right

   Searching and sorting
       The list of packages can be searched by package name. This is  done  by
       pressing  '/',  and typing a simple search string. The string is inter-
       preted as a regex(7) regular expression.  If you add '/d' to the search
       expression,  dselect will also search in descriptions.  If you add '/i'
       the search will be case insensitive.  You may combine  these  two  suf-
       fixes  like this: '/id'.  Repeated searching is accomplished by repeat-
       edly pressing the 'n' or '\' keys, until the wanted package  is  found.
       If  the  search reaches the bottom of the list, it wraps to the top and
       continues searching from there.

       The list sort order can be varied by pressing  the  'o'  and  'O'  keys
       repeatedly.  The following nine sort orderings can be selected:
        alphabet          available           status
        priority+section  available+priority  status+priority
        section+priority  available+section   status+section
       Where  not  listed  above  explicitly,  alphabetic order is used as the
       final subordering sort key.

   Altering selections
       The requested selection state of individual  packages  may  be  altered
       with the following commands:
         +, Insert    install or upgrade
         =, H         hold in present state and version
         :, G         unhold: upgrade or leave uninstalled
         -, Delete    remove, but leave configuration
         _            remove & purge configuration

       When  the  change request results in one or more unsatisfied depends or
       conflicts, dselect  prompts  the  user  with  a  dependency  resolution
       screen. This will be further explained below.

       It is also possible to apply these commands to groups of package selec-
       tions, by pointing the cursor bar onto a group header. The exact group-
       ing of packages is dependent on the current list ordering settings.

       Proper  care  should be taken when altering large groups of selections,
       because this can instantaneously create  large  numbers  of  unresolved
       depends  or  conflicts,  all  of which will be listed in one dependency
       resolution screen, making them very hard to handle. In  practice,  only
       hold and unhold operations are useful when applied to groups.

   Resolving depends and conflicts
       When  the  change request results in one or more unsatisfied depends or
       conflicts, dselect  prompts  the  user  with  a  dependency  resolution
       screen. First however, an informative help screen is displayed.

       The top half of this screen lists all the packages that will have unre-
       solved depends or conflicts, as a result of the requested  change,  and
       all the packages whose installation can resolve any of these depends or
       whose removal can resolve  any  of  the  conflicts.   The  bottom  half
       defaults  to  show  the  depends  or conflicts that cause the currently
       selected package to be listed.

       When the sublist of packages is displayed initially, dselect  may  have
       already  set the requested selection status of some of the listed pack-
       ages, in order to resolve the depends  or  conflicts  that  caused  the
       dependency  resolution  screen  to be displayed. Usually, it is best to
       follow up the suggestions made by dselect.

       The listed packages' selection state may be reverted  to  the  original
       settings,  as they were before the unresolved depends or conflicts were
       created, by pressing the 'R' key.  By pressing the 'D' key,  the  auto-
       matic  suggestions are reset, but the change that caused the dependency
       resolution screen to be prompted is kept  as  requested.   Finally,  by
       pressing  'U', the selections are again set to the automatic suggestion

   Establishing the requested selections
       By pressing  enter,  the  currently  displayed  set  of  selections  is
       accepted.  If  dselect detects no unresolved depends as a result of the
       requested selections, the new selections  will  be  set.   However,  if
       there  are  any  unresolved depends, dselect will again prompt the user
       with a dependency resolution screen.

       To alter a set of selections that creates unresolved  depends  or  con-
       flicts  and  forcing dselect to accept it, press the 'Q' key. This sets
       the selections as specified by the  user,  unconditionally.  Generally,
       don't do this unless you've read the fine print.

       The  opposite effect, to back out any selections change requests and go
       back to the previous list of selections, is attained  by  pressing  the
       'X'  or  escape  keys.  By repeatedly pressing these keys, any possibly
       detrimental changes to the requested package selections can  be  backed
       out completely to the last established settings.

       If  you  mistakenly  establish some settings and wish to revert all the
       selections to what is currently installed on the system, press the  'C'
       key.  This is somewhat similar to using the unhold command on all pack-
       ages, but provides a more obvious panic button in cases where the  user
       pressed enter by accident.

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

       The dselect package selection interface is confusing to some new users.
       Reportedly, it even makes seasoned kernel developers cry.

       The documentation is lacking.

       There is no help option in the main menu.

       The visible list of available packages cannot be reduced.

       The  built  in access methods can no longer stand up to current quality
       standards. Use the access method provided by apt, it is  not  only  not
       broken, it is also much more flexible than the built in access methods.

       dpkg(1), apt-get(8), sources.list(5), deb(5).

Debian Project                    2014-08-11                        dselect(1)
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