Updated: May 2003Index
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apt-file - APT package searching utility -- command-line interface
apt-file [ options ] [ action ] [ pattern ]
apt-file -f [ options ] search [ file ... ]
apt-file -D [ options ] search [ binary-packet.deb ... ]
apt-file is a command line tool for
searching files in packages for the APT package management system.
Some actions are required to run the search:
Alias for search.
List the contents of a package matching the
pattern pattern. This action is very
close to the dpkg -L command except the
package does not need to be installed or fetched.
remove all Contents-*
files from the cache directory.
Search in which package a file is included. A list of all
packages containing the pattern pattern
apt-file will only search for filenames, not directory names.
This is due to the format of the Contents files it searches.
Alias for list.
Resynchronize the package contents from their sources. The
lists of the contents of packages are fetched from the location(s)
/etc/apt/sources.list. This command
attempts to fetch the
Contents-<ARCH>.gz files from
remote sources. For downloading these uses either the curl or
wget commands as specified in apt-file.conf.
- -a, --architecture architecture
Sets architecture to architecture. This
option is useful if you search a package for a different
architecture from the one installed on your system.
It determines how the $ARCH variable
in sources.list is expanded (but it does not influence
the search in any other way).
- -c, --cache cache-directory
Sets the cache directory to cache-directory
instead of its default. If executed as non-root user, the default
is $HOME/.cache/apt-file with fall-back to
/var/cache/apt/apt-file. The latter is also
the default if apt-file is called as root.
- -d, --cdrom-mount cdrom-mount-point
Use cdrom-mount-point instead of
- -D, --from-deb
Use contents of the given .deb archives(s) as patterns.
Useful for searching for file conflicts with other packages.
- -f, --from-file
Read patterns from the given file(s), one per line.
Use - as filename for stdin.
If no files are given, then the list will be read from stdin.
This is much faster than invoking apt-file many times.
- -F, --fixed-string
Do not expand search pattern with generic characters at
pattern's start and end.
- -i, --ignore-case
Ignore case when searching for pattern.
- -l, --package-only
Only display package name; do not display file names.
- -N, --non-interactive
Skip schemes that are listed in the interactive line in
This is useful if you want to call 'apt-file update' in cron jobs and skip all
schemes that may require user input.
- -s, --sources-list sources.list
Sets the sources.list file to a
different value from its default
- -v, --verbose
Run apt-file in verbose mode.
- -x, --regexp
Treat pattern as a (perl) regular expression. See
perlreref(1) for details. Without this option,
pattern is treated as a literal string to search
- -y, --dummy
Run in dummy mode (no action).
- -h, --help
Display a short help screen.
The apt-file configuration file can
be found in /etc/apt/apt-file.conf.
A string expansion is done on several values. See the string
This variable describes how cached files will be named.
- http | ftp | ssh | rsh | file | cdrom
Defines the commands used to fetch files.
A sources.list entry is defined as:
deb uri dist component1 component2 ...
A uri is defined as:
replace with the hostname
replace with the port number
replace with full uri
replace with full path (relative to / on the host)
replace with distribution name
replace with component name
replace with cache directory
replace with destination expanded
replace with cdrom-mount-point.
The cdrom backend has not been tested.
Non-release lines in sources.list are not handled by apt-file.
There is only one Contents file per distribution that contains all
components (i.e. main, contrib, and non-free). Threrefore, apt-file will
display search results from all components, even if not all components
are included in the sources.list file.
When a new line has been added to the sources.list and apt-file update has
not been run, apt-file does not print a warning message.
Complex regular expressions that match the leading slash may not work
correctly. As a workaround, try to pull the leading slash to the beginning
of the regular expression. For example, use "/(usr/bin/vim|sbin/lvm)"
instead of "/usr/bin/vim|/sbin/lvm".
Locations to fetch package contents from.
Directory with additional sources.list snippets
Configuration file for apt-file.
The APT users guide in
apt-file was written by Sebastien J. Gross
- CONFIGURATION FILE
- STRING EXPANSION
- SEE ALSO