Querying the package list with apt-cache

Apt-cache vs. Web Page

Before installing, many users of Debian systems refer to their distribution's web page for information. However, although web pages might be more modern than command-line applications, apt-cache has several advantages.

To start, apt-cache has search functions that are superior to most distributions' sites. It can give you more detailed information more quickly. Additionally, apt-cache's results are taken directly from your installation. Instead of reading generalized information then applying it, you can work from the beginning with only relevant information, thereby saving time.

However, apt-cache's most important advantage is that it easily retrieves information, such as reverse dependencies or the priorities of repositories that do not so much as appear on most web pages. This advantage alone makes apt-cache worth some study.

As far as users are aware of apt-cache at all, they usually use it for searches. However, apt-cache is useful for far more than that. Once you are familiar with apt-cache, it becomes a major tool for everyday administration.

The Author

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist and a freelance writer and editor specializing in free and open source software. In addition to his writing projects, he also teaches live and e-learning courses. In his spare time, Bruce writes about Northwest coast art. You can read more of his work at http://brucebyfield.wordpress.com

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • apt vs. apt-get

    The apt command-line utility is a successor to the well known apt-get, offering simpler installation and maintenance for the DEB packages used with Debian, Ubuntu, Knoppix, and many other Linux distros.

  • Command Line: Apt-get

    Dependency tangles fall away with the Debian package system.

  • Ask Klaus

    Klaus Knopper answers your Linux questions.

  • Evolutionary Tale

    Over the past 30 years, the apt family has played an important role in dependency resolution for Debian distros.

  • Command Line – Pinning Sources

    Debian discourages the use of pinning to set preferences for package repositories, because the practice can have disastrous results. We take a closer look.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More