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DEBTAGS(1) User Commands DEBTAGS(1)


debtags - Debian Package Tags support tools


usage: debtags [-h] [--version] [--verbose] [--debug]

{tag,cat,grep,check,diff,mkpatch,search,dumpavail,show,submit,tagcat,tagshow,tagsearch,update,vocfilter} ...

Command line interface to access and manipulate Debian Package Tags

optional arguments:

show this help message and exit
show program's version number and exit
enable verbose output
enable debugging output (including verbose output)


valid subcommands
additional help
(not implemented anymore)
output the lines of the full package tag database that match the given tag expression. A tag expression (given as a single argument) is an arbitrarily complex binary expression of tag names. For example: role::program && ((use::editing || use::viewing) && !works-with::text)
Check that all the tags in the given tagged collection are present in the tag vocabulary. Checks the main database if no file is specified
Create a tag patch between the current tag database and the tag collection [filename]. Standard input is used if filename is not specified
Output the packages matching the given tag expression
(deprecated) mostly the same as apt-cache show <pkgnames>
(no longer supported) see for patch submit.
Output the tag vocabulary
Show the vocabulary information about a tag
Show a summary of all tags whose data contains the given strings
Updates the package tag database (requires root) Collect package tag data from apt cache, regenerate the debtags tag database and main index. It needs to be run as root
Filter out the tags that are not found in the given vocabulary file debtags manages package tag data in a debian system and performs basic queries on it.

debtags can be used to perform basic queries on the Debtags system: the vocabulary can be queried with the tagshow and tagsearch commands; a package tag database can be checked against the vocabulary with the check command; the whole collection can be copied to standard output to be processed with tagcoll or other tools by the cat command; packages can be searched by tags using the grep command. Finally, tags can be listed with tag ls, edited with the tag add and tag rm, and submitted to the Debtags database with submit.

The update command can be used to download extra tags as listed in /etc/debtags/sources.list: see the contents of that file for more information.



The normative tag vocabulary

The system package tags database, only kept as an easily parsable reference. In the same directory there is a the binary index with the same content, used by applications for fast access.

The list of sources to build the package tags database from


Here are some example invocations of debtags:

# Update the package tag database
debtags update
# Show apt-cache information about the mutt package,
# adding tag information
debtags show mutt
# Search the tag vocabulary for mail-related tags
debtags tagsearch mail
# Output a list of all packages which can edit raster images, excluding
# shared libraries and dummy packages
debtags search "use::editing && works-with::image:raster && \
! (role::shared-lib || role::dummy)"
# Show all mail clients
debtags search 'works-with::mail && network::client'
# Output the collection of all mail clients, ready to be reprocessed via
# tagcoll
debtags grep 'works-with::mail && network::client'
# Produce an easily navigable hierarchy with the collection data
debtags cat | tagcoll hierarchy
# Produce a local tag patch
debtags cat > work-tags
...edit work-tags...
debtags diff work-tags > my-tagpatch
# Submit the patch
debtags submit my-tagpatch
# Edit the tags of a package (the patch will be stored in ~/.debtags/patch)
# then send your changes
debtags tag add debtags implemented-in::c++ interface::commandline
debtags tag rm debtags devel::buildtools
debtags submit


tagcoll(1), axi-cache(1),

January 2018 debtags 2.1