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apt-file - APT package searching utility -- command-line interface


apt-file [ options ] [ action ] [ pattern ]

apt-file -f [ options ] search [ file ... ]

apt-file -D [ options ] search [ binary-packet.deb ... ]


apt-file is a command line tool for searching files in packages for the APT package
management system.

Some actions are required to run the search:

find Alias for search.

list List the contents of a package matching the pattern pattern. This action is very
close to the dpkg -L command except the package does not need to be installed or

purge remove all Contents-* files from the cache directory.

search Search in which package a file is included. A list of all packages containing the
pattern pattern is returned.

apt-file will only search for filenames, not directory names. This is due to the
format of the Contents files it searches.

show Alias for list.

update Resynchronize the package contents from their sources. The lists of the contents of
packages are fetched from the location(s) specified in /etc/apt/sources.list. This
command attempts to fetch the Contents-<ARCH>.gz files from remote sources. For
downloading these uses either the curl or wget commands as specified in apt-


-a, --architecture architecture
Sets architecture to architecture. This option is useful if you search a package
for a different architecture from the one installed on your system. It determines
how the $ARCH variable in sources.list is expanded (but it does not influence the
search in any other way).

-c, --cache cache-directory
Sets the cache directory to cache-directory instead of its default. If executed as
non-root user, the default is $HOME/.cache/apt-file with fall-back to
/var/cache/apt/apt-file. The latter is also the default if apt-file is called as

-d, --cdrom-mount cdrom-mount-point
Use cdrom-mount-point instead of apt's.

-D, --from-deb
Use contents of the given .deb archives(s) as patterns. Useful for searching for
file conflicts with other packages. Implies -F.

-f, --from-file
Read patterns from the given file(s), one per line. Use - as filename for stdin.
If no files are given, then the list will be read from stdin. This is much faster
than invoking apt-file many times.

-F, --fixed-string
Do not expand search pattern with generic characters at pattern's start and end.

-i, --ignore-case
Ignore case when searching for pattern.

-l, --package-only
Only display package name; do not display file names.

-N, --non-interactive
Skip schemes that are listed in the interactive line in apt-file.conf. This is
useful if you want to call 'apt-file update' in cron jobs and skip all schemes that
may require user input.

-s, --sources-list sources.list
Sets the sources.list file to a different value from its default

-v, --verbose
Run apt-file in verbose mode.

-x, --regexp
Treat pattern as a (perl) regular expression. See perlreref(1) for details. Without
this option, pattern is treated as a literal string to search for.

-y, --dummy
Run in dummy mode (no action).

-h, --help
Display a short help screen.


The apt-file configuration file can be found in /etc/apt/apt-file.conf.

A string expansion is done on several values. See the string expansion section.

This variable describes how cached files will be named.

http | ftp | ssh | rsh | file | cdrom
Defines the commands used to fetch files.

A sources.list entry is defined as:

deb uri dist component1 component2 ...

A uri is defined as:


<host> replace with the hostname

<port> replace with the port number

<uri> replace with full uri

<path> replace with full path (relative to / on the host)

<dist> replace with distribution name

<comp> replace with component name

replace with cache directory

<dest> replace with destination expanded value.

replace with cdrom-mount-point.

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