apt-patterns - Syntax and semantics of apt search patterns
Starting with version 2.0, APT provides support for
patterns, which can be used to query the apt cache for packages.
These patterns provide the basic means to combine other patterns
into more complex expressions, as well as ?true and ?false patterns.
?and(PATTERN, PATTERN, ...), PATTERN PATTERN ...
Selects objects where all specified patterns match.
Selects objects where PATTERN does not match.
?or(PATTERN, PATTERN, ...), PATTERN | PATTERN | ...
Selects objects where at least one of the specified
Selects all objects.
Selects the same as PATTERN, can be used to work around
precedence, for example, (~ramd64|~ri386)~nfoo
Selects packages where all versions match PATTERN. When
matching versions instead, same as PATTERN.
Selects any version where the pattern matches on the
For example, while ?and(?version(1),?version(2)) matches a package
which has one version containing 1 and one version containing 2,
?any-version(?and(?version(1),?version(2))) restricts the ?and to act on the
Selects any version matching all PATTERNs, short for
These patterns select specific packages.
Selects packages matching the specified architecture,
which may contain wildcards using any.
Selects packages that were installed automatically.
Selects packages that have broken dependencies.
Selects packages that are not fully installed, but have
solely residual configuration files left.
Selects packages that have Essential: yes set in their
Selects packages with the exact specified name.
Selects packages that can be removed automatically.
Selects packages that are currently installed.
Selects packages where the name matches the given regular
Selects packages that no longer exist in
Selects packages that can be upgraded (have a newer
Selects all virtual packages; that is packages without a
version. These exist when they are referenced somewhere in the archive, for
example because something depends on that name.
These patterns select specific versions of a package.
Selects versions that come from the archive that matches
the specified regular expression. Archive, here, means the values after a= in
Selects versions that come from the codename that matches
the specified regular expression. Codename, here, means the values after n= in
Selects versions that come from the origin that matches
the specified regular expression. Origin, here, means the values after o= in
Selects versions where the section matches the specified
Selects versions where the source package name matches
the specified regular expression.
Selects versions where the source package version matches
the specified regular expression.
Selects versions where the version string matches the
specified regular expression.
Selects versions where the Priority string equals the
PACKAGE RELATIONSHIP PATTERNS¶
These patterns match specific package versions that
depend/conflict with some other packages.
?depends(PATTERN), ~DPATTERN, ?pre-depends(PATTERN),
~DPre-Depends:PATTERN, ?suggests(PATTERN), ~DSuggests:PATTERN,
?conflicts(PATTERN), ~DConflicts:PATTERN, ?replaces(PATTERN),
~DReplaces:PATTERN, ?obsoletes(PATTERN), ~DObsoletes:PATTERN,
?breaks(PATTERN), ~DBreaks:PATTERN, ?enhances(PATTERN),
depending/pre-depending/suggesting/conflicting/etc on/with/ packages matching
Opposite of ?depends and friends - selects all packages
that have reverse-dependencies (versions) matching PATTERN.
depType is one of the dependency types such as depends, so
that we don't have to repeat the entire list from the first paragraph
apt remove ?garbage
Remove all packages that are automatically installed and
no longer needed - same as apt autoremove
apt purge ?config-files
Purge all packages that only have configuration files
apt list '~i !~M (~slibs|~sperl|~spython)'
List all manually-installed packages in sections matching
libs, perl, or python.
MIGRATING FROM APTITUDE¶
Patterns in apt are heavily inspired by patterns in aptitude, but
with some tweaks:
•Syntax is uniform: If there is an opening
parenthesis after a term, it is always assumed to be the beginning of an
In aptitude, a syntactic form "?foo(bar)" could mean
"?and(?foo,bar)" if foo does not take an argument. In APT, this
will cause an error.
•Not all patterns are supported.
•Some additional patterns are available, for
example, for finding gstreamer codecs.
•Escaping terms with ~ is not supported.
•A trailing comma is allowed in argument
•?narrow accepts infinite arguments
•foo cannot be used as a shortform for ?name(foo),
as this can cause typos to go unnoticed: Consider ?and(...,~poptional): this
requires the package to have required priority, but if you do not type the ~,
it would require the package name to contain poptional.
•Grouping patterns with (...) or writing ?or(A,B)
as A|B are not supported. We do not believe that the use of | is that common,
and the grouping is not necessary without it.
•Dependency types for ~D and related operators
need to be specified in the canonical case.
APT bug page. If you wish to report a bug in APT, please
see /usr/share/doc/debian/bug-reporting.txt or the reportbug(1)
APT was written by the APT team