Search for Install Packages from the Ubuntu Command Line

When you are trying to install software on Ubuntu or Debian linux using the apt-get package system, quite often you’ll forget the exact name of the package you are trying to install. Here’s how you can get a little help figuring out what the name is.


apt-cache search SearchTerm


> apt-cache search monodevelop

monodevelop – C#/Boo/Java/Nemerle/ILasm Development Environment
monodevelop-boo – Boo plugin for MonoDevelop
monodevelop-java – Java plugin for MonoDevelop
monodevelop-nunit – NUnit plugin for MonoDevelop
monodevelop-query – MonoQuery plugin for MonoDevelop
monodevelop-versioncontrol – VersionControl plugin for MonoDevelop

Rather useful, no? I’ve found it very useful even when I know the name of the package I’m trying to install, you can figure out what the names of extra plugins are, as in the above example. I had initially installed monodevelop, but didn’t realize there was nunit and version control plugins for it.

You may also want to run the results through a more, or even a grep. For instance:

> apt-cache search firefox | grep plugin

libflash-mozplugin – GPL Flash (SWF) Library – Mozilla-compatible plugin
mozilla-helix-player – the helix audio and video player (browser plugin)
j2re1.4-mozilla-plugin – Java plugin for mozilla/firefox
mozilla-acroread – Adobe Acrobat(R) Reader plugin for mozilla / konqueror
totem-gstreamer-firefox-plugin – Totem Firefox Plugin – gstreamer version
totem-xine-firefox-plugin – Totem Firefox Plugin – xine version

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.