A toolkit for packages

debman

Using debman, you can search and read man pages from uninstalled packages (Figure 4). The command has two formats: With the use of -f FILENAME, it reads the man pages from a local copy of the uninstalled package specified, and with -p PACKAGE, it downloads and displays a man page for the uninstalled package specified from the system's repositories. If more than one source is available, the command returns the alternatives so that you can enter a more precise command.

Figure 4: The debman command lets you examine the man page of uninstalled packages.

debmany

Although many users think of man pages only in terms of help files, Debian packages use man for a variety of other files, including acknowledgements, readme files, and copyright notices. The debmany command prepares a list of all the man pages in an installed or uninstalled package then displays the one you select (Figure 5). It allows one selection at a time, after which you must re-enter the command to select another man page.

Figure 5: Packages include small libraries of man pages. The debmany command helps you browse those libraries.

dglob

As the name suggests, the dglob command uses regular expressions to search package names. By default, it searches only installed packages, but you can add the -a option to search uninstalled ones as well. By adding -f, you can also search for files instead of packages.

To search packages, dglob calls on grep-dctrl (Figure 6). The man page for grep-dctrl conveniently summarizes the sorts of questions it can answer, including: What is the Debian package foo? Which version of the Debian package bar is now current? Which Debian packages does John Doe maintain, and which Debian packages are somehow related to the Scheme programming language?

Figure 6: The dglob script calls on grep-dctrl to search packages for regular expressions.

As these questions suggest, dglob is one of the most powerful scripts in Debian Goodies.

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