NAME¶dselect - Debian package management frontend
SYNOPSIS¶dselect [option...] [command...]
DESCRIPTION¶dselect is one of the primary user interfaces for managing packages on a Debian system. At the dselect main menu, the system administrator can:
- Update the list of available package versions,
- View the status of installed and available packages,
- Alter package selections and manage dependencies,
- Install new packages or upgrade to newer versions. dselect operates as a front-end to dpkg(1), the low-level Debian package handling tool. It features a full-screen package selections manager with package depends and conflicts resolver. When run with administrator privileges, packages can be installed, upgraded and removed. Various access methods can be configured to retrieve available package version information and installable packages from package repositories. Depending on the used access method, these repositories can be public archive servers on the internet, local archive servers or cdroms. The recommended access method is apt, which is provided by the package apt. Normally dselect is invoked without parameters. An interactive menu is presented, offering the user a list of commands. If a command is given as argument, then that command is started immediately. Several command line parameters are still available to modify the running behaviour of dselect or show additional information about the program.
OPTIONS¶All options can be specified both on the command line and in the dselect configuration file /etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg or the files on the configuration directory /etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg.d/. Each line in the configuration file is either an option (exactly the same as the command line option but without leading hyphens) or a comment (if it starts with a ‘ #’).
- --admindir directory
- Changes the directory where the dpkg ‘status’, ‘ available’ and similar files are located. This defaults to /var/lib/dpkg and normally there shouldn't be any need to change it.
- -Dfile, --debug file
- Turn on debugging. Debugging information is sent to file.
- Turns on expert mode, i.e. doesn't display possibly annoying help messages.
- --colour|--color screenpart:[foreground],[ background][:attr[+attr]...]
- Configures screen colors. This works only if your display supports colors. This option may be used multiple times (and is best used in dselect.cfg). Each use changes the color (and optionally, other attributes) of one part of the screen. The parts of the screen (from top to bottom) are:
- The screen title.
- The header line above the list of packages.
- The scrolling list of packages (and also some help text).
- The selected item in the list.
- In the list of packages, the text indicating the current state of each package.
- In the list of packages, the text indicating the current state of the currently selected package.
- The header line that displays the state of the currently selected package.
- The package's short description.
- Used to display package info such as the package's description.
- The last line of the screen when selecting packages.
- Used to display query lines
- Color of help screens.
- After the part of the screen comes a colon and the color specification. You can specify either the foreground color, the background color, or both, overriding the compiled-in colors. Use standard curses color names.
- Optionally, after the color specification is another colon, and an attribute specification. This is a list of one or more attributes, separated by plus (‘+’) characters. Available attributes include (not all of these will work on all terminals): normal, standout, underline, reverse, blink, bright, dim, bold
- -?, --help
- Print a brief help text and exit successfully.
- Print version information and exit successfully.
COMMANDS¶When dselect is started it can perform the following commands, either directly if it was specified on the command line or by prompting the user with a menu of available commands if running interactively:
access¶Choose and configure an access method to access package repositories.
update¶Refresh the available packages database.
select¶View or manage package selections and dependencies.
install¶Installs selected packages.
config¶Configures any previously installed, but not fully configured packages.
remove¶Removes or purges installed packages, that are marked for removal.
PACKAGE SELECTIONS MANAGEMENT¶
Introduction¶dselect directly exposes the administrator to some of the complexities involved with managing large sets of packages with many interdependencies. For a user who is unfamiliar with the concepts and the ways of the Debian package management system, it can be quite overwhelming. Although dselect is aimed at easing package management and administration, it is only instrumental in doing so and cannot be assumed to be a sufficient substitute for administrator skill and understanding. The user is required to be familiar with the concepts underlying the Debian packaging system. In case of doubt, consult the dpkg(1) manpage and the distribution policy.
Screen layout¶The select screen is by default split in a top and a bottom half. The top half shows a list of packages. A cursor bar can select an individual package, or a group of packages, if applicable, by selecting the group header. The bottom half of the screen shows some details about the package currently selected in the top half of the screen. The type of detail that is displayed can be varied.
Package details view¶The package details view by default shows the extended package description for the package that is currently selected in the packages status list. The type of detail can be toggled by pressing the ‘ i’ key. This alternates between:
- the extended description
- the control information for the installed version
- the control information for the available version
Packages status list¶The main select screen displays a list of all packages known to the Debian package management system. This includes packages installed on the system and packages known from the available packages database.
empty no error
R serious error, needs reinstallation;
empty not installed;
* fully installed and configured;
- not installed but some config files may remain;
U unpacked but not yet configured;
C half-configured (an error happened);
I half-installed (an error happened).
Current and requested selections:
* marked for installation or upgrade;
- marked for removal, configuration files remain;
= on hold: package will not be processed at all;
_ marked for purge, also remove configuration;
n package is new and has yet to be marked.
Cursor and screen movement¶The package selection list and the dependency conflict resolution screens can be navigated using motion commands mapped to the following keys:
p, Up, k move cursor bar up
n, Down, j move cursor bar down
P, Pgup, Backspace scroll list 1 page up
N, Pgdn, Space scroll list 1 page down
^p scroll list 1 line up
^n scroll list 1 line down
t, Home jump to top of list
e, End jump to end of list
u scroll info 1 page up
d scroll info 1 page down
^u scroll info 1 line up
^d scroll info 1 line down
B, Left-arrow pan display 1/3 screen left
F, Right-arrow pan display 1/3 screen right
^b pan display 1 character left
^f pan display 1 character right
Searching and sorting¶The list of packages can be searched by package name. This is done by pressing ‘ /’, and typing a simple search string. The string is interpreted as a regex(7) regular expression. If you add ‘ /d’ to the search expression, dselect will also search in descriptions. If you add ‘ /i’ the search will be case insensitive. You may combine these two suffixes like this: ‘ /id’. Repeated searching is accomplished by repeatedly pressing the ‘ n’ or ‘\’ keys, until the wanted package is found. If the search reaches the bottom of the list, it wraps to the top and continues searching from there.
alphabet available status
priority+section available+priority status+priority
section+priority available+section status+section
Altering selections¶The requested selection state of individual packages may be altered with the following commands:
+, Insert install or upgrade
=, H hold in present state and version
:, G unhold: upgrade or leave uninstalled
-, Delete remove, but leave configuration
_ remove & purge configuration
Resolving depends and conflicts¶When the change request results in one or more unsatisfied depends or conflicts, dselect prompts the user with a dependency resolution screen. First however, an informative help screen is displayed.
Establishing the requested selections¶By pressing enter, the currently displayed set of selections is accepted. If dselect detects no unresolved depends as a result of the requested selections, the new selections will be set. However, if there are any unresolved depends, dselect will again prompt the user with a dependency resolution screen.
- The requested command was successfully performed.
- Fatal or unrecoverable error due to invalid command-line usage, or interactions with the system, such as accesses to the database, memory allocations, etc.
- If set, dselect will use it as the directory from which to read the user specific configuration file.
BUGS¶The dselect package selection interface is confusing to some new users. Reportedly, it even makes seasoned kernel developers cry.
SEE ALSO¶dpkg(1), apt-get(8), sources.list(5), deb(5).