A toolkit for packages


The which-pkg-broke command displays all the dependencies for a package and when each was installed. This information can take a few seconds to retrieve and quickly fills several screens with its output, so you might want to pipe the command through less.

In theory, you can then identify which packages might be causing problems by correlating when installation problems began with which packages were installed around that time (Figure 10). In practice, however, this command has only limited usefulness, because not all packages record their installation time.

Figure 10: The which-pkg-broke command provides information that can help you repair a broken system.

Hands-On Administration

Like dpkg-reconfigure [3], the scripts in the Debian Goodies collection are part of the unique technology that Debian has built during the past two decades. This technology has been passed along, mostly unchanged, to its derivatives – even those that emphasize the desktop rather than the command line.

The opportunities that this technology offers can be overwhelming; however, it provides a hands-on approach to administering your system that few other Linux alternatives can match.

Take the time now to learn what Debian Goodies offers, making mental notes about the scripts you imagine you are most likely to use. Then, whether you are troubleshooting your system or simply curious about different aspects of your system, you will know what resources are available to you.


  1. Debian Goodies: http://packages.debian.org/sid/debian-goodies
  2. Debian Popularity Contest: http://popcon.debian.org/
  3. "Command Line: dpkg-reconfigure" by Bruce Byfield, Linux Pro Magazine, October 2013, pg. 76

The Author

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist and a freelance writer and editor specializing in free and open source software. In addition to his writing projects, he is also a fan of parrots, heavy exercise, British folk-rock, science fiction and 19th century novels. In his spare time, Bruce writes about Northwest Coast art. You can read more of his work at http://brucebyfield.wordpress.com

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