Search for Install Packages from the Ubuntu Command Line

By Lowell Heddings on September 16th, 2006

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.

Syntax:

apt-cache search SearchTerm

Example:

> 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.

  • Published 09/16/06
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