Querying the package list with apt-cache

Apt-cache vs. Web Page

Before installing, many users of Debian systems refer to their distribution's web page for information. However, although web pages might be more modern than command-line applications, apt-cache has several advantages.

To start, apt-cache has search functions that are superior to most distributions' sites. It can give you more detailed information more quickly. Additionally, apt-cache's results are taken directly from your installation. Instead of reading generalized information then applying it, you can work from the beginning with only relevant information, thereby saving time.

However, apt-cache's most important advantage is that it easily retrieves information, such as reverse dependencies or the priorities of repositories that do not so much as appear on most web pages. This advantage alone makes apt-cache worth some study.

As far as users are aware of apt-cache at all, they usually use it for searches. However, apt-cache is useful for far more than that. Once you are familiar with apt-cache, it becomes a major tool for everyday administration.

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 also teaches live and e-learning courses. 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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