Man Linux: Main Page and Category List


       dpkg - package manager for Debian


       dpkg [options] 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).  The following are
       dpkg-deb  actions, and if they are encountered, dpkg just runs dpkg-deb
       with the parameters given to it:
           -b, --build,
           -c, --contents,
           -I, --info,
           -f, --field,
           -e, --control,
           -x, --extract,
           -X, --vextract, and
       Please refer to dpkg-deb(1) for information about these actions.


       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
              completed 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 has been triggered.

              The package is unpacked and configured OK.

              The package is selected for installation.

       hold   A  package  marked  to be on hold is not handled by dpkg, unless
              forced to do that with option --force-hold.

              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, even configuration files).

              A  package  marked  reinst-required  is  broken   and   requires
              reinstallation.  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
              package.  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
              information 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
              configured.  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:

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

              2. Run postinst script, if provided by the package.

       --triggers-only package...|-a|--pending
              Processes only triggers. All pending triggers will be processed.
              If package names are supplied only those packages' triggers will
              be  processed,  exactly  once  each where necessary. 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.

       -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
              package 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.

              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
              available.   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 Packages-file. The Packages-file distributed with  Debian
              is  simply  named  Packages.  dpkg keeps its record of available
              packages in /var/lib/dpkg/available.

              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
              directory instead.

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

              Erase   the   existing   information  about  what  packages  are

        -C, --audit
              Searches for packages that have been installed only partially on
              your  system. dpkg will suggest what to do with them to get them

       --get-selections [package-name-pattern...]
              Get list of package selections, and write it to stdout.  Without
              a  pattern,  non-installed  packages (i.e. those which have been
              previously purged) will not be shown.

              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
              deinstall.  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
              example, "i386").

       --compare-versions ver1 op ver2
              Compare version numbers, where op is a  binary  operator.
              dpkg  returns  success  (zero  result)  if  the specified
              condition is  satisfied,  and  failure  (nonzero  result)
              otherwise.  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  version: 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
              subsequent commands executed during the same run.

       --help Display a brief help message.

              Give help about the --force-thing options.

       -Dh, --debug=help
              Give help about debugging options.

              Display dpkg version information.

       dpkg-deb actions
              See dpkg-deb(1) for more information about the  following

              -b, --build directory [archive|directory]
                  Build a deb package.
              -c, --contents archive
                  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
              following 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
              package. Specifying  this  option  will  cause  automatic
              deconfiguration  of  the  package  which  depended on the
              removed package.

       -Doctal, --debug=octal
              Switch debugging on. octal is  formed  by  bitwise-orring
              desired  values  together  from the list below (note that
              these values may  change  in  future  releases).  -Dh  or
              --debug=help display these debugging values.

                  number  description
                       1   Generally helpful progress information
                       2   Invocation and status of maintainer scripts
                      10   Output for each file processed
                     100   Lots of output for each file processed
                      20   Output for each configuration file
                     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
              package.  This can have serious side effects, downgrading
              essential system components  can  even  make  your  whole
              system unusable. Use with care.

              configure-any:    Configure   also   any   unpacked   but
              unconfigured  packages  on  which  the  current   package

              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
              example,  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
              considered  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

              conflicts:  Install,  even  if  it conflicts with another
              package. This is dangerous, for  it  will  usually  cause
              overwriting of some files.

              confmiss:  Always  install  a  missing  conffile. This is
              dangerous,  since  it  means  not  preserving  a   change
              (removing) made to the file.

              confnew:  If  a conffile has been modified always install
              the   new   version   without   prompting,   unless   the
              --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.

              architecture:   Process  even  packages  with  the  wrong

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

              not-root: Try to (de)install things even when not root.

              bad-verify:   Install   a   package   even  if  it  fails
              authenticity check.

              Ignore   dependency-checking   for   specified   packages
              (actually, checking is performed, but only warnings about
              conflicts are given, nothing else).

       --new, --old
              Select new or  old  binary  package  format.  This  is  a
              dpkg-deb(1) option.

              Don't  read  or  check  contents  of  control  file while
              building a package.  This is a dpkg-deb(1) option.

       --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
              probably expected it to actually do nothing)

       -R, --recursive
              Recursively  handle  all  regular  files matching pattern
              *.deb found at  specified  directories  and  all  of  its
              subdirectories.  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
              installation. 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

       -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,
              triggers-only, remove and purge dpkg actions. This option
              can  be  specified  multiple times. The order the options
              are specified  is  preserved,  with  the  ones  from  the
              configuration  files  taking precedence.  The environment
              variable DPKG_HOOK_ACTION is set for  the  hooks  to  the
              current  dpkg  action.  Note:  front-ends might call dpkg
              several times per invocation, which might run  the  hooks
              more times than expected.

              Set glob-pattern as a path filter, either by excluding or
              re-including  previously  excluded  paths  matching   the
              specified 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
              complementations. See glob(7)  for  detailed  information
              about  globbing.  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
              particular 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
              information 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.  Unfortunately at the time of
                     writing   extended-error-message    can    contain
                     newlines,    although   in   locales   where   the
                     translators have not made mistakes  every  newline
                     is followed by at least one space.

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

              processing: stage: package
                     Sent  just before a processing stage starts. stage
                     is one  of  upgrade,  install  (both  sent  before
                     unpacking),    configure,   trigproc,   disappear,
                     remove, purge.

              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> <available-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
              information   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
              filesystems 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

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

              Sets  the  number  of  columns  dpkg  should   use   when
              displaying 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 search the listing of packages yourself:
            less /var/lib/dpkg/available

       To remove an installed elvis package:
            dpkg -r elvis

       To install a package, you first need to find it in an archive or
       CDROM.  The  "available"  file  shows that the vim package is in
       section "editors":
            cd /cdrom/pool/main/v/vim
            dpkg -i vim_4.5-3.deb

       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
       convenient 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.