dselect [option...] [action]

       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 actions. If an action  is  given
       as  argument,  then that action 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.

       --debug file | -Dfile
              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
                     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

       Optionally, after the color specification  is  another  colon,  and  an
       attribute specification. This is a list of one or more attributes, sep-
       arated 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  actions,  either
       directly  if  it  was specified on the command line or by prompting the
       user with a menu of available actions 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.

       Details  of the update action 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 http://bugs.debian.org/ or by reading the documentation  for  bug(1)
       or reportbug(1), if these are installed.

       Details of the install action depend on the access method's implementa-
       tion.  The user's attention and input may be required during  installa-
       tion,  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.

       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 action 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 versions, the package name and its  short
       description,  all  in one line. By pressing the 'V' key, the display of
         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
         _            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,
       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                    2012-04-07                        dselect(1)
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