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DSELECT(8)                          Debian                          DSELECT(8)

       dselect - Debian package management frontend

       dselect  [--admindir  <directory>]  [--help]  [--version]  [--licence |
       --license] [--expert] [--debug |  -D  <file>]  [&lt;action&gt;]  [--colour  |
       --color screenpart:[foreground],[background][:attr[+attr+..]]]

       dselect  is one of the primary user interfaces for managing packages on
       a Debian system.  At the dselect main menu,  the  system  administrator
        - Update the list of available package versions,
        - View the status of installed and available packages,
        - Alter package selections and manage dependencies,
        - Install new packages or upgrade to newer versions.

       dselect  operates as a front-end to dpkg(8), the low-level debian pack-
       age handling tool.  It features a full-screen package  selections  man-
       ager  with  package  depends  and  conflicts  resolver.   When run with
       adminitrator priviledges,  packages  can  be  installed,  upgraded  and
       removed. Various access methods can be configured to retrieve available
       package version  information  and  installable  packages  from  package
       repositories.   Depending on the used access method, these repositories
       can be public archive servers on the internet, local archive servers or
       cdroms.  The recommended access method is apt, which is provided by the
       package apt.

       Normally dselect is invoked without parameters.  An interactive menu is
       presented,  offering the user a list of actions.  If an action is given
       as argument, then that action is started immediately.  Several command-
       line  parameters are still available to modify the running behaviour of
       dselect or show additional information about the program.

       All options can be specified both on the commandline and in the dselect
       configuration  file  /etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg. Each line in the configura-
       tion file is either an option (exactly  the  same  as  the  commandline
       option  but  without  leading dashes) or a comment (if it starts with a

       --admindir <&lt;directory>&gt;
              Changes the directory where the dpkg `status',  `available'  and
              similar  files  are  located. This defaults to /var/lib/dpkg and
              normally there shouldn't be any need to change it.

       --debug <&lt;file>&gt; | -D<&lt;file>&gt;
              Turn on debugging. Debugging information is sent to &lt;file&gt;.

              Turns on expert mode, i.e.  doesn't  display  possibly  annoying
              help messages.

       --colour         |        --color        screenpart:[foreground],[back-
              Configures screen colors. This works only if your  display  sup-
              ports  colors.   This  option may be used multiple times (and is
              best used in dselect.cfg).  Each  use  changes  the  color  (and
              optionally,  other  attributes)  of one part of the screen.  The
              parts of the screen (from top to bottom) are:

              title  The screen title.

                     The header line above the list of packages.

              list   The scrolling list of packages (and also some help text).

                     The selected item in the list.

                     In the list of packages, the text indicating the  current
                     state of each package.

                     In  the list of packages, the text indicating the current
                     state of the currently selected package.

                     The header line that displays the state of the  currently
                     selected package.

                     The package's short description.

              info   Used  to  display  package  info  such  as  the package's

                     The last line of the screen when selecting packages.

              query  Used to display query lines

                     Color of help screens.

       After the part of the screen comes a colon and the color specification.
       You  can  specify either the foreground color, the background color, or
       both, overriding the compiled-in  colors.  Use  standard  curses  color

       Optionally,  after  the  color  specification  is another colon, and an
       attribute specification. This is a list of one or more attributes, sep-
       arated  by plus ("+") characters. Available attributes include (not all
       of these will work on  all  terminals):  normal,  standout,  underline,
       reverse, blink, bright, dim, bold

       --help Print a brief help text and exit successfully.

       --licence | --license
              Displays the dselect copyright and license information and exits

              Print version information and exit successfully.

       When dselect is started interactively, it prompts the user with a  menu
       of available actions:

       Choose and configure an access method to access package repositories.

       By  default,  dselect provides several methods such as floppy, harddisk
       or cdrom, but other packages may provide additional  methods,  eg.  the
       apt  access method provided by the apt package or multi_cd by the dpkg-
       multicd package.

       The use of the apt access method is strongly recommended.

       Refresh the available packages database.

       Retrieves a list of available package versions from the package reposi-
       tory,  configured  for  the  current access method, and update the dpkg
       database.  The package lists are commonly provided by the repository as
       files  named  Packages or Packages.gz.  These files can be generated by
       repository maintainers, using the program dpkg-scanpackages(1).

       Details of the update action depend on the access method's  implementa-
       tion.   Normally  the  process  is straightforward and requires no user

       View or manage package selections and dependencies.

       This is the main function of dselect.  In the select screen,  the  user
       can  review  a  list of all available and installed packages.  When run
       with administrator privileges, it is  also  possible  to  interactively
       change  packages  selection  state.  dselect tracks the implications of
       these changes to other depending or conflicting packages.

       When a conflict or failed depends is detected, a dependency  resolution
       subscreen is prompted to the user.  In this screen, a list of conflict-
       ing or depending packages is shown, and for each  package  listed,  the
       reason  for  its  listing is shown.  The user may apply the suggestions
       proposed by dselect, override  them,  or  back  out  all  the  changes,
       including the ones that created the unresolved depends or conflicts.

       The  use  of  the  interactive  package selections management screen is
       explained in more detail below.

       Installs selected packages.

       The configured access method will fetch installable or upgradable pack-
       ages  from  the  relevant  repositories  and  install these using dpkg.
       Depending on the implementation of the access method, all packages  can
       be prefetched before installation, or fetched when needed.  Some access
       methods may also remove packages that were marked for removal.

       If an error occurred during install, it is  usually  advisable  to  run
       install  again.   In  most  cases,  the  problems  will disappear or be
       solved.  If problems persist or the installation performed  was  incor-
       rect,  please investigate into the causes and circumstances, and file a
       bug in the Debian bug tracking system.  Instructions on how to do  this
       can be found at http://bugs.debian.org/ or by reading the documentation
       for bug(1) or reportbug(1), if these are installed.

       Details of the install action depend on the access method's implementa-
       tion.   The user's attention and input may be required during installa-
       tion, configuration or removal of packages.  This depends on the  main-
       tainer  scripts  in  the  package.   Some packages make use of the deb-
       conf(8) library, allowing for more flexible or even automated installa-
       tion setups.

       Configures any previously installed, but not fully configured packages.

       Removes or purges installed packages, that are marked for removal.

       Quit dselect

       Exits the program with zero (succesful) errorcode.

Package selections management
       dselect  directly exposes the administrator to some of the complexities
       involved with managing large sets of packages with many  interdependen-
       cies.   For  a user who is unfamiliar with the concepts and the ways of
       the debian package management system, it  can  be  quite  overwhelming.
       Although  dselect is aimed at easing package management and administra-
       tion, it is only instrumental in doing so and can not be assumed to  be
       a sufficient substitute for administrator skill and understanding.  The
       user is required to be familiar with the concepts underlying the Debian
       packaging  system.   In  case of doubt, consult the dpkg(8) manpage and
       the Debian policy manual.

       Unless dselect is run in expert or immediate mode,  a  help  screen  is
       first  displayed  when choosing this action from the menu.  The user is
       strongly advised to study all  of  the  information  presented  in  the
       online  help screens, when one pops up.  The online help screens can at
       any time be invoked with the '?' key.

   Screen layout
       The select screen is by default split in a top and a bottom half.   The
       top half shows a list of packages.  A cursor bar can select an individ-
       ual package, or a group of packages, if applicable,  by  selecting  the
       group  header.   The bottom half of the screen shows some details about
       the package currently selected in the top half of the screen.  The type
       of detail that is displayed can be varied.

       Pressing  the  'I'  key  toggles  a full-screen display of the packages
       list, an enlarged view of the package details,  or  the  equally  split

   Package details view
       The package details view by default shows the extended package descrip-
       tion for the package that is currently selected in the packages  status
       list.  The type of detail can be toggled by pressing the 'i' key.  This
       alternates between:
        - the extended description
        - the control information for the installed version
        - the control information for the available version

       In a dependency resolution screen, there is  also  the  possibility  of
       viewing  the  specific  unresolved  depends or conflicts related to the
       package and causing it to be listed.

   Packages status list
       The main select screen displays a list of all  packages  known  to  the
       debian  package management system.  This includes packages installed on
       the system and packages known from the available packages database.

       For every package, the list shows the package's status, priority,  sec-
       tion,  installed and available versions, the package name and its short
       description, all in one line.  By pressing the 'V' key, the display  of
       the  installed  and available version can be toggled between on an off.
       By pressing the 'v' key, the package status display is toggled  between
       verbose and shorthand.  Shorthand display is the default.

       The shorthand status indication consists of four parts:  an error flag,
       which should normally be clear, the current status, the last  selection
       state  and  the  current  selection state.  The first two relate to the
       actual state of the package, the second pair are about  the  selections
       set by the user.

       These are the meanings of the shorthand package status indicator codes:
        Error flag:
         empty   no error
         R       serious error, needs reinstallation;
        Installed state:
         empty   not installed;
         *       fully installed and configured;
         -       not installed but some config files may remain;
         U       unpacked but not yet configured;
         C       half-configured (an error happened);
         I       half-installed (an error happened).
        Current and requested selections:
         *       marked for installation or upgrade;
         -       marked for removal, configuration files remain;
         =       on hold: package will not be processed at all;
         _       marked for purge, also remove configuration;
         n       package is new and has yet to be marked.

   Cursor and screen movement
       The  package  selection  list  and  the  dependency conflict resolution
       screens can be navigated using motion commands mapped to the  following
         p, Up, k           move cursor bar up
         n, Down, j         move cursor bar down
         P, Pgup, Backspace scroll list 1 page up
         N, Pgdn, Space     scroll list 1 page down
         ^p                 scroll list 1 line up
         ^n                 scroll list 1 line down
         t, Home            jump to top of list
         e, End             jump to end of list
         u                  scroll info 1 page up
         d                  scroll info 1 page down
         ^u                 scroll info 1 line up
         ^d                 scroll info 1 line down
         B, Left-arrow      pan display 1/3 screen left
         F, Right-arrow     pan display 1/3 screen right
         ^b                 pan display 1 character left
         ^f                 pan display 1 character right

   Searching and sorting
       The  list of packages can be searched by package name.  This is done by
       pressing '/', and typing a simple search string. The string  is  inter-
       preted as a regex(7) regular expression.  If you add '/d' to the search
       expression, dselect will also search in descriptions. If you  add  '/i'
       the  search  will  be case insensitive.  You may combine these two suf-
       fixes like this: '/id'.  Repeated searching is accomplished by  repeat-
       edly  pressing  the 'n' or '\' keys, until the wanted package is found.
       If the search reaches the bottom of the list, it wraps to the  top  and
       continues searching from there.

       The  list  sort  order  can  be varied by pressing the 'o' and 'O' keys
       repeatedly.  The following nine sort orderings can be selected:
        alphabet          available           status
        priority+section  available+priority  status+priority
        section+priority  available+section   status+section
       Where not listed above explicitly, alphabetic  order  is  used  as  the
       final subordering sort key.

   Altering selections
       The  requested  selection  state  of individual packages may be altered
       with the following commands:
         +, Insert    install or upgrade
         =, H         hold in present state and version
         :, G         unhold: upgrade or leave uninstalled
         -, Delete    remove, but leave configuration
         _            remove & purge configuration

       When the change request results in one or more unsatisfied  depends  or
       conflicts,  dselect  prompts  the  user  with  a  dependency resolution
       screen.  This will be further explained below.

       It is also possible to apply these commands to groups of package selec-
       tions,  by  pointing  the  cursor  bar  onto a group header.  The exact
       grouping of packages is dependent on the  current  list  ordering  set-

       Proper  care  should be taken when altering large groups of selections,
       because this can instantaneously create  large  numbers  of  unresolved
       depends  or  conflicts,  all  of which will be listed in one dependency
       resolution screen, making them very hard to handle.  In practice,  only
       hold and unhold operations are useful when applied to groups.

   Resolving depends and conflicts
       When  the  change request results in one or more unsatisfied depends or
       conflicts, dselect  prompts  the  user  with  a  dependency  resolution
       screen.  First however, an informative help screen is displayed.

       The top half of this screen lists all the packages that will have unre-
       solved depends or conflicts, as a result of the requested  change,  and
       all the packages whose installation can resolve any of these depends or
       whose removal can resolve  any  of  the  conflicts.   The  bottom  half
       defaults  to  show  the  depends  or conflicts that cause the currently
       selected package to be listed.

       When the sublist of packages is displayed initially, dselect  may  have
       already  set the requested selection status of some of the listed pack-
       ages, in order to resolve the depends  of  conflicts  that  caused  the
       dependency  resolution  screen to be displayed.  Usually, it is best to
       follow up the suggestions made by dselect.

       The listed packages' selection state may be reverted  to  the  original
       settings,  as they were before the unresolved depends or conflicts were
       created, by pressing the 'R' key.  By pressing the 'D' key,  the  auto-
       matic  suggestions are reset, but the change that caused the dependency
       resolution screen to be prompted is kept  as  requested.   Finally,  by
       pressing  'U', the selections are again set to the automatic suggestion

   Establishing the requested selections
       By pressing  enter,  the  currently  displayed  set  of  selections  is
       accepted.   If dselect detects no unresolved depends as a result of the
       requested selections, the new selections  will  be  set.   However,  if
       there  are any unresolveded depends, dselect will again prompt the user
       with a dependency resolution screen.

       To alter a set of selections that creates unresolved  depends  or  con-
       flicts  and forcing dselect to accept it, press the 'Q' key.  This sets
       the selections as specified by the user,  unconditionally.   Generally,
       don't do this unless you've read the fine print.

       The  opposite effect, to back out any selections change requests and go
       back to the previous list of selections, is attained  by  pressing  the
       'X'  or  escape  keys.  By repeatedly pressing these keys, any possibly
       detrimental changes to the requested package selections can  be  backed
       out completely to the last established settings.

       The dselect package selection interface is confusing to some new users.
       Reportedly, it even makes seasoned kernel developers cry.

       The documentation is lacking.

       There is no help option in the main menu.

       The visible list of available packages cannot be reduced.

       The built in access methods can no longer stand up to  current  quality
       standards.   Use  the access method provided by apt, it is not only not
       broken, it is also much more flexible than the built in access methods.

       dpkg(8), apt-get(8), sources.list(5), deb(5), the Debian policy manual.

       dselect was written by Ian Jackson (ijacksonATgnu.edu). Full list
       of contributors may be found in `dselect --license'.
       This  manual  page  was written by Juho Vuori <javuoriATcc.fi>,
       Josip Rodin and Joost kooij.

Debian Project                     July 2001                        DSELECT(8)