dpkg

Package manager (Debian/Ubuntu).

Syntax
      dpkg [options] action

Actions

   -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 instead. 

   --configure package...|-a|--pending
      Reconfigure an unpacked package.
      If -a or --pending is given instead of package, all unpacked but unconfigured packages are configured.

      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.

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

   --clear-avail
      Erase the existing information about what packages are available.

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

   --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-selections
      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.

   --clear-selections
      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 --set-selections.

   --yet-to-unpack
      Searches for packages selected for installation, but which for some reason still haven't been installed.

   --print-architecture
      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 thru this file descriptor, are not reset for subsequent
      commands executed during the same run.

   --help
      Display a brief help message.

   --force-help
      Give help about the --force-thing options.

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

   --licence, --license
      Display dpkg licence.

   --version
      Display dpkg version information.

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

      -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 director        Extract and display the filenames contained by a package.
      -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.

Options

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 #).

   --abort-after=number
      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 default.

        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 depends.

        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 dependencies.

        breaks:      Install, even if this would break another package.

        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 preferred.

        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.

        overwrite:   Overwrite one package's file with another's file.

        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 architecture.

        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-depends=package,...
      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.

   --nocheck
      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 anything.

      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 --refuse-downgrade.

   --admindir=dir
      Change default administrative directory, which contains many files that give information about status of installed or
      uninstalled packages, etc. (Defaults to /var/lib/dpkg)

   --instdir=dir
      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 /)

   --root=dir
      Changing root changes instdir to dir and admindir to dir/var/lib/dpkg.

   -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 deinstallation.

   -E, --skip-same-version
      Don't install the package if the same version of the package is already installed.

   --pre-invoke=command
   --post-invoke=command
      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.

   --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 file. 
         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=filename
      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.

   --no-debsig
      Do not try to verify package signatures.

   --no-triggers
      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.

   --triggers
      Cancels a previous --no-triggers.

Information About Packages

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.

Package States

   not-installed     The package is not installed on your system. 
   config-files      Only the configuration files of the package exist on the system. 
   half-installed    The installation of the package has been started, but not completed for some reason. 
   unpacked          The package is unpacked, but not configured. 
   half-configured   The package is unpacked and configuration has been started, but not yet completed for some reason. 
   triggers-awaited  The package awaits trigger processing by another package. 
   triggers-pending  The package has been triggered. 
   installed         The package is unpacked and configured OK.

Package Selection States

   install    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. 
   deinstall  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).

Package Flags

   reinst-required    A package marked reinst-required is broken and requires reinstallation.
                      These packages cannot be removed, unless forced with option --force-remove-reinstreq.

dpkg is a tool to install, build, remove and manage Debian packages. The primary and more user-friendly front-end for dpkg is aptitude.
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.

Additional functionality can be gained by installing any of the following packages: apt, aptitude and debsums.

dpkg-deb Debian package archive (.deb) manipulation tool

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,
--fsys-tarfile.

Examples

List packages related to the vi editor:
$ dpkg -l aq*vi*aq

See the entries in /var/lib/dpkg/available of two packages:
$ dpkg --print-avail elvis vim | less

Search the listing of packages yourself:
$ less /var/lib/dpkg/available

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

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.

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it” ~ President Lyndon B. Johnson

Related linux commands:

apt-get - Package Manager.
aptitude - Package manager.
Equivalent Windows command: Package managers


 
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