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.
- ?false, ~F
- ?not(PATTERN), !PATTERN
Selects objects where PATTERN does not match.
- ?or(PATTERN, PATTERN, ...), PATTERN | PATTERN | ...
Selects objects where at least one of the specified patterns match.
- ?true, ~T
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 version.
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 same version.
Selects any version matching all PATTERNs, short for ?any-version(?and(PATTERN...)).
These patterns select specific packages.
- ?architecture(WILDCARD), ~rWILDCARD
Selects packages matching the specified architecture, which may contain wildcards using any.
- ?automatic, ~M
Selects packages that were installed automatically.
- ?broken, ~b
Selects packages that have broken dependencies.
- ?config-files, ~c
Selects packages that are not fully installed, but have solely residual configuration files left.
- ?essential, ~E
Selects packages that have Essential: yes set in their control file.
Selects packages with the exact specified name.
- ?garbage, ~g
Selects packages that can be removed automatically.
- ?installed, ~i
Selects packages that are currently installed.
- ?name(REGEX), ~nREGEX
Selects packages where the name matches the given regular expression.
- ?obsolete, ~o
Selects packages that no longer exist in repositories.
- ?upgradable, ~U
Selects packages that can be upgraded (have a newer candidate).
- ?virtual, ~v
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.
- ?archive(REGEX), ~AREGEX
Selects versions that come from the archive that matches the specified regular expression. Archive, here, means the values after a= in apt-cache policy.
- ?origin(REGEX), ~OREGEX
Selects versions that come from the origin that matches the specified regular expression. Origin, here, means the values after o= in apt-cache policy.
- ?section(REGEX), ~sREGEX
Selects versions where the section matches the specified regular expression.
- ?source-package(REGEX), ~eREGEX
Selects versions where the source package name matches the specified regular expression.
Selects versions where the source package version matches the specified regular expression.
- ?version(REGEX), ~VREGEX
Selects versions where the version string matches the specified regular expression.
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), ~DEnhances:PATTERN
Selects versions depending/pre-depending/suggesting/conflicting/etc on/with/ packages matching PATTERN.
- ?reverse-depType(PATTERN), ~RDepType:PATTERN
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 here.
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 left
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 argument list.
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 lists
- ?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) command.
APT was written by the APT team <email@example.com>.
APT bug page