Manpage of APT-CACHE


Section: Maintenance Commands (8)
Updated: 12 March 2001
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apt-cache - APT package handling utility -- cache manipulator  


apt-cache [ -hvs ] [ -o=config string ] [ -c=file ] [ add file... ] [ gencaches ] [ showpkg pkg... ] [ stats ] [ dump ] [ dumpavail ] [ unmet ] [ search regex ] [ show pkg... ] [ showpkg pkg... ] [ depends pkg... ] [ pkgnames prefix ] [ dotty pkg... ] [ policy pkgs... ]  


apt-cache performs a variety of operations on APT's package cache. apt-cache does not manipulate the state of the system but does provide operations to search and generate interesting output from the package metadata.

Unless the -h, or --help option is given one of the commands below must be present.

add adds the names package index files to the package cache.
gencaches performs the same opration as apt-get check. It builds the source and package caches from the sources in sources.list(5) and from /var/lib/dpkg/status.
showpkg displays information about the packages listed on the command line. Remaining arguments are package names. The available versions and reverse dependencies of each package listed are listed, as well as forward dependencies for each version. Forward (normal) dependencies are those packages upon which the package in question depends; reverse dependencies are those packages that depend upon the package in question. Thus, forward dependencies must be satisfied for a package, but reverse dependencies need not be. For instance, apt-cache showpkg libreadline2 would produce output similar to the following:

Package: libreadline2
Versions: 2.1-12(/var/state/apt/lists/foo_Packages),
Reverse Depends: 
2.1-12 - libc5 (2 5.4.0-0) ncurses3.0 (0 (null))
2.1-12 - 
Reverse Provides: 

Thus it may be seen that libreadline2, version 2.1-12, depends on libc5 and ncurses3.0 which must be installed for libreadline2 to work. In turn, libreadlineg2 and libreadline2-altdev depend on libreadline2. If libreadline2 is installed, libc5, ncurses3.0, and ldso must also be installed; libreadlineg2 and libreadline2-altdev do not have to be installed. For the specific meaning of the remainder of the output it is best to consult the apt source code.

stats displays some statistics about the cache. No further arguments are expected. Statistics reported are:
Total package names is the number of package names found in the cache.
Normal packages is the number of regular, ordinary package names; these are packages that bear a one-to-one correspondence between their names and the names used by other packages for them in dependencies. The majority of packages fall into this category.
Pure virtual packages is the number of packages that exist only as a virtual package name; that is, packages only "provide" the virtual package name, and no package actually uses the name. For instance, "mail-transport-agent" in the Debian GNU/Linux system is a pure virtual package; several packages provide "mail-transport-agent", but there is no package named "mail-transport-agent".
Single virtual packages is the number of packages with only one package providing a particular virtual package. For example, in the Debian GNU/Linux system, "X11-text-viewer" is a virtual package, but only one package, xless, provides "X11-text-viewer".
Mixed virtual packages is the number of packages that either provide a particular virtual package or have the virtual package name as the package name. For instance, in the Debian GNU/Linux system, debconf is both an actual package, and provided by the debconf-tiny package.
Missing is the number of package names that were referenced in a dependency but were not provided by any package. Missing packages may be in evidence if a full distribution is not accesssed, or if a package (real or virtual) has been dropped from the distribution. Usually they are referenced from Conflicts statements.
Total distinct versions is the number of package versions found in the cache; this value is therefore at least equal to the number of total package names. If more than one distribution (both "stable" and "unstable", for instance), is being accessed, this value can be considerably larger than the number of total package names.
Total dependencies is the number of dependency relationships claimed by all of the packages in the cache.

dump shows a short listing of every package in the cache. It is primarily for debugging.
dumpavail prints out an available list to stdout. This is suitable for use with dpkg(8) and is used by the dselect(8) method.
unmet displays a summary of all unmet dependencies in the package cache.
show performs a function similar to dpkg --print-avail, it displays the package records for the named packages.
search performs a full text search on all available package files for the regex pattern given. It searchs the package names and the descriptions for an occurance of the string and prints out the package name and the short description. If --full is given then output identical to show is produced for each matched package and if --names-only is given then the long description is not searched, only the package name is.

Seperate arguments can be used to specified multiple search patterns that are and'd together.

depends shows a listing of each dependency a package has and all the possible other packages that can fullfill that dependency.
This command prints the name of each package in the system. The optional argument is a prefix match to filter the name list. The output is suitable for use in a shell tab complete function and the output is generated extremly quickly. This command is best used with the --generate option.
dotty takes a list of packages on the command line and gernerates output suitable for use by dotty from the GraphVis <URL:> package. The result will be a set of nodes and edges representing the relationships between the packages. By default the given packages will trace out all dependent packages which can produce a very large graph. This can be turned off by setting the APT::Cache::GivenOnly option.

The resulting nodes will have several shapse, normal packages are boxes, pure provides are triangles, mixed provides are diamonds, hexagons are missing packages. Orange boxes mean recursion was stopped [leaf packages], blue lines are prre-depends, green lines are conflicts.

Caution, dotty cannot graph larger sets of packages.

policy is ment to help debug issues relating to the preferences file. With no arguments it will print out the priorities of each source. Otherwise it prints out detailed information about the priority selection of the named package.



All command line options may be set using the configuration file, the descriptions indicate the configuration option to set. For boolean options you can override the config file by using something like -f-,--no-f, -f=no or several other variations.

Select the file to store the package cache. The package cache is the primary cache used by all operations. Configuration Item: Dir::Cache::pkgcache.
Select the file to store the source cache. The source is used only by gencaches and it stores a parsed version of the package information from remote sources. When building the package cache the source cache is used to advoid reparsing all of the package files. Configuration Item: Dir::Cache::srcpkgcache.
Quiet; produces output suitable for logging, omitting progress indicators. More qs will produce more quite up to a maximum of 2. You can also use -q=# to set the quiet level, overriding the configuration file. Configuration Item: quiet.
Print only important deps; for use with unmet causes only Depends and Pre-Depends relations to be printed. Configuration Item: APT::Cache::Important.
Print full package records when searching. Configuration Item: APT::Cache::ShowFull.
Print full records for all available versions, this is only applicable to the show command. Configuration Item: APT::Cache::AllVersions.
Perform automatic package cache regeneration, rather than use the cache as it is. This is the default, to turn it off use --no-generate. Configuration Item: APT::Cache::Generate.
Only search on the package names, not the long description. Configuration Item: APT::Cache::NamesOnly.
Make pkgnames print all names, including virtual packages and missing dependencies. Configuration Item: APT::Cache::AllNames.
Make depends recursive so that all packages mentioned are printed once. Configuration Item: APT::Cache::RecurseDepends.
Show a short usage summary.
Show the program verison.
Configuration File; Specify a configuration file to use. The program will read the default configuration file and then this configuration file. See apt.conf(5) for syntax information.
Set a Configuration Option; This will set an arbitary configuration option. The syntax is -o Foo::Bar=bar.


locations to fetch packages from. Configuration Item: Dir::Etc::SourceList.
storage area for state information for each package resource specified in sources.list(5) Configuration Item: Dir::State::Lists.
storage area for state information in transit. Configuration Item: Dir::State::Lists (implicit partial).


apt.conf(5), sources.list(5), apt-get(8)  


apt-cache returns zero on normal operation, decimal 100 on error.  


See the APT bug page <URL:>. If you wish to report a bug in APT, please see /usr/share/doc/debian/bug-reporting.txt or the bug(1) command.  


APT was written by the APT team <>.




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Time: 00:13:07 GMT, March 02, 2024