Advanced package searches with Aptitude

Aptitude is a tool that helps us to Install / Delete / Purge / Search programs that we have installed in Debian and derivatives. Its use is very simple, take for example MC:

To install we type the following:

sudo aptitude install mc

to uninstall:

sudo aptitude remove mc

to display information about a program:

sudo aptitude show mc

and to search:

sudo aptitude search mc

So far so good, but there is a more advanced way to search with Aptitude.

aptitude search '~N' edit

It would list all the "new" packages and all those packages whose name contains "edit"

aptitude search ~dtwitter

It would look for which package contains the word Twitter in its description.

aptitude search ^libre

It would search for all packages that start with the word free

aptitude search libre$

It would search for all packages that end with the word free

aptitude search '~dpro !~n^lib'

List all those packages whose description contains the word pro but whose name does not start with lib.

The search patterns are as follows:


Find all the packages that Twitter has in its description, as we saw above.


Find all packages that Twitter has in its name.

Find all packages that contain twitter in their name or that provide twitter.


Look for any installed packages that can be updated.

More information: Open terminal and put: man aptitude

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  1.   Hugo said

    Nice. I had never tried some of these advanced variants, now thanks to you I will have a new toy to decorate .. ahem experiment with my Linux, hehehe.

  2.   Rots87 said

    Too bad I do not use any derivative of debian but I use Archlinux ... at least the search for packages in arch I do it with a program called pkgbrowser I think it is only the database of the programs that are in the repos and in the AUR 0.0

  3.   Hugo said

    Another parameter for the collection: aptitude search ~ i search installed packages.

    aptitude search ~ixorg

  4.   nonamed said

    you are missing something necessary for cleaning the system

    aptitude purge ~ c

  5.   st0rmt4il said


    Here is a tip also for some in case it is useful:


  6.   Dante Mdz. said

    Very interesting, with that I can make the most of Debian.

  7.   daryo said

    I'm more used to apt-cache search thing to search