Package maintenance at the command line


You can use debman (Figure 5) to quickly locate and display the man page associated with a particular package. The package is followed by the version, or, if you do not want a specific version, by a repetition of the package name. Any local environment variable like $MANPATH is ignored. Instead, the specified package is extracted to a temporary directory and used to retrieve its man pages. With the -p option, the named package will be downloaded from the repositories; the -f option downloads the local .deb file.

Figure 5: Use debman to locate and display a package's man page.


Using debmany (Figure 6), you can create a list of man pages associated with a package and then select and display them one at a time. You can choose to display a page in a viewer of your choice that can read files with a .gz extension using the -k option in KDE's Plasma, the -g option in Gnome, or the -x option in Xfce, Gnome, or Plasma. Another viewer can also be set with -m VIEWER. Similarly, although English is the default language, another language can be set using -l followed by a standard two-letter abbreviation such as fr for French or de for German. With any of these options, you can also use -L LENGTH to set a length limit specified in K (kilobytes), M (megabytes), G (gigabytes), or T (terabytes). Although, practically speaking, being text, man pages are short enough that the last three set no practical limit.

Figure 6: With debmany, you can generate a list of all the man pages associated with a package and then select the ones to view.


The check-enhancements script (Figure 7) lists any packages that add functionality to a package but are not required to run it. This relationship is indicated by the fact that, if the --verbose option is used, results begin with "Could be enhanced by." The other options are --installed-packages (-installed-packages, -ip, --ip), which displays the enhancements for installed packages, and --installed-enhancements (-installed-enhancements, -ie, --ie), which displays results by enhancements. If no package or enhancement is entered, then the results for every package or enhancement are listed, a process that can take some time and may well be pointless, because the majority of packages on a typical system do not have enhancements. If an enhancement is available but uninstalled, a possible installation candidate is given.

Figure 7: Using check-enhancements lists packages that add functionality to a package but are not required to run it.

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