Posts Tagged ‘apt-file’

If you find yourself trying to figure out which package contains a certain command, or any other file for that matter, apt-file is a command that will make this easy. It probably won’t be installed by default, so do so with this command:

sudo apt-get install apt-file

You will then be presented with the message:

The system-wide cache is empty. You may want to run ‘apt-file update’ as root to update the cache. You can also run ‘apt-file update’ as normal user to use a cache in the user’s home directory.

It’s probably best to run the former option (that is, as superuser), so enter the following:

sudo apt-file update

Let it update the cache, then you can search for the command or package or file. Simply use apt-file search followed by whatever it is you’re looking for. For example, we’ll search for the command ccsm, which is what runs the Compiz-Config Settings Manager, as there is no actual package of that name:

apt-file search ccsm

You might find the list presented is quite long, so it may pay to set your terminal to unlimited scrolling beforehand. In the case of the example, the line we’re looking for:

compizconfig-settings-manager: /usr/bin/ccsm

is not visible, since it is right near the top, which is beyond scrolling. If this happens to you, edit your terminal settings and run the command again.

Generally speaking, if it’s a command/program, then the line that has /usr/bin/ followed by the command (like ccsm) will be the correct one. The actual package that contains it will be listed at the beginning, in this case being compizconfig-settings-manager.

Remember, this can work with other types of files too, so if you’re looking for a specific config file or icon or whatever, just specify that at the end of the command. Eg:

apt-file search ccsm.desktop

Hopefully this is all you need to find that elusive file, or the package that installs a program you’re after.


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