My 2 paisas

What does the alphabets on the left of aptitude search command output mean?

Posted on: October 13, 2009

If you are reading the article as you were searching for an answer to the question mentioned in the subject, that means you are not a regular user of “man” command or you were not satisfied with the info given in man page of aptitude command. The following is an excerpt from the man page of aptitude command and hence dont bother to read if you have already gone through it thorughly. If you have not, then from next time spend more time reading man pages. They are the best tutorials.

However here is the excerpt:::

Unless you pass the -F option, the output of aptitude search will look something like this:

i apt – Advanced front-end for dpkg
pi apt-build – frontend to apt to build, optimize and in
cp apt-file – APT package searching utility — command-
ihA raptor-utils – Raptor RDF Parser utilities

Each search result is listed on a separate line. The first character of each line indicates the current state
of the package: the most common states are p, meaning that no trace of the package exists on the system, c,
meaning that the package was deleted but its configuration files remain on the system, i, meaning that the
package is installed, and v, meaning that the package is virtual. The second character indicates the stored
action (if any; otherwise a blank space is displayed) to be performed on the package, with the most common
actions being i, meaning that the package will be installed, d, meaning that the package will be deleted, and
p, meaning that the package and its configuration files will be removed. If the third character is A, the
package was automatically installed.

For a complete list of the possible state and action flags, see the section “Accessing Package Information” in
the aptitude reference guide. To customize the output of search, see the command-line options -F and –sort.

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