dselect(1)                        dpkg suite                        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
       package handling tool. It features  a  full-screen  package  selections
       manager  with  package  depends  and  conflicts resolver. When run with
       administrator privileges,  packages  can  be  installed,  upgraded  and
       removed. Various access methods can be configured to retrieve available
       package version  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
       dselect  configuration  file  /etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg or the files on the
       configuration directory  /etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg.d/.  Each  line  in  the
       configuration 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
              supports 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
              specification.  You can specify either the foreground color, the
              background 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
              terminals): normal, standout, underline, reverse, blink, bright,
              dim, bold

       -?, --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  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
       repository, 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

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

       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
       conflicting 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

       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
       packages 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
       implementation.  The user's attention and input may be required  during
       installation, configuration or removal of packages. This depends on the
       maintainer scripts in the  package.  Some  packages  make  use  of  the
       debconf(1)  library,  allowing  for  more  flexible  or  even automated
       installation setups.

       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
       interdependencies. 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  administration,  it is only instrumental in doing so and cannot 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 distribution policy.

       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
       individual 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
       description  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,
       section, 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
       interpreted  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 suffixes like this: '/id'.  Repeated searching is  accomplished  by
       repeatedly  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
       selections,  by  pointing the cursor bar onto a group header. The exact
       grouping  of  packages  is  dependent  on  the  current  list  ordering

       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
       unresolved 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
       packages, 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
       automatic  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 values.

   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
       conflicts  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
       packages, but provides a more obvious panic button in cases  where  the
       user pressed enter by accident.

       0      The requested command was successfully performed.

       2      Fatal  or unrecoverable error due to invalid command-line usage,
              or interactions  with  the  system,  such  as  accesses  to  the
              database, memory allocations, etc.

       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).                          2019-09-05                        dselect(1)
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