dselect(1) — Linux manual page


dselect(1)                       dpkg suite                       dselect(1)

NAME         top

       dselect - Debian package management frontend

SYNOPSIS         top

       dselect [option...] [command...]

DESCRIPTION         top

       dselect is one of the primary user interfaces for managing packages
       on a Debian system. At the dselect main menu, the system
       administrator can:
        - 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(1), the low-level Debian
       package handling tool. It features a full-screen package selections
       manager with package depends and conflicts resolver. When run with
       administrator privileges, 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 commands. If a command is
       given as argument, then that command is started immediately. Several
       command line parameters are still available to modify the running
       behaviour of dselect or show additional information about the

OPTIONS         top

       All options can be specified both on the command line and in the
       dselect configuration file /usr/local/etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg or the
       files on the configuration directory
       /usr/local/etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg.d/. Each line in the configuration
       file is either an option (exactly the same as the command line option
       but without leading hyphens) or a comment (if it starts with a ‘#’).

       --admindir directory
              Changes the directory where the dpkg ‘status’, ‘available’ and
              similar files are located.  This defaults to
              /usr/local/var/lib/dpkg and normally there shouldn't be any
              need to change it.

       -Dfile, --debug file
              Turn on debugging. Debugging information is sent to file.

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

              Configures screen colors. This works only if your display
              supports 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

                     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 names.

              Optionally, after the color specification is another colon,
              and an attribute specification. This is a list of one or more
              attributes, separated 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.

              Print version information and exit successfully.

COMMANDS         top

       When dselect is started it can perform the following commands, either
       directly if it was specified on the command line or by prompting the
       user with a menu of available commands if running interactively:

       Choose and configure an access method to access package repositories.

       By default, dselect provides several methods such as cdrom, multi_cd,
       nfs, multi_nfs, harddisk, mounted, multi_mount or ftp, but other
       packages may provide additional methods, eg. the apt access method
       provided by the apt 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
       repository, 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

       Details of the update command depend on the access method's
       implementation.  Normally the process is straightforward and requires
       no user interaction.

       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 conflicting 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

       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
       packages 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
       incorrect, 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 https://bugs.debian.org/ or by reading the
       documentation for bug(1) or reportbug(1), if these are installed.

       Details of the install command depend on the access method's
       implementation.  The user's attention and input may be required
       during installation, configuration or removal of packages. This
       depends on the maintainer scripts in the package. Some packages make
       use of the debconf(1) library, allowing for more flexible or even
       automated installation setups.

       Configures any previously installed, but not fully configured

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

       Quit dselect.

       Exits the program with zero (successful) errorcode.


       dselect directly exposes the administrator to some of the
       complexities involved with managing large sets of packages with many
       interdependencies. 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 administration, it is only instrumental in doing so and cannot 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(1) manpage and the distribution policy.

       Unless dselect is run in expert or immediate mode, a help screen is
       first displayed when choosing this command 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
       individual 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
       description 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,
       section, installed and available architecture, installed and
       available versions, the package name and its short description, all
       in one line.  By pressing the ‘A’ key, the display of the installed
       and available architecture can be toggled between on an off.  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
        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 keys:
         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
       interpreted 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 suffixes like this: ‘/id’.  Repeated searching is accomplished by
       repeatedly 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
       selections, by pointing the cursor bar onto a group header. The exact
       grouping of packages is dependent on the current list ordering

       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
       unresolved 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
       packages, in order to resolve the depends or 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
       automatic 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 values.

   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 unresolved depends, dselect will again prompt the user
       with a dependency resolution screen.

       To alter a set of selections that creates unresolved depends or
       conflicts 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.

       If you mistakenly establish some settings and wish to revert all the
       selections to what is currently installed on the system, press the
       ‘C’ key.  This is somewhat similar to using the unhold command on all
       packages, but provides a more obvious panic button in cases where the
       user pressed enter by accident.

EXIT STATUS         top

       0      The requested command was successfully performed.

       2      Fatal or unrecoverable error due to invalid command-line
              usage, or interactions with the system, such as accesses to
              the database, memory allocations, etc.

ENVIRONMENT         top

       HOME   If set, dselect will use it as the directory from which to
              read the user specific configuration file.

BUGS         top

       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

SEE ALSO         top

       dpkg(1), apt-get(8), sources.list(5), deb(5).

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the dpkg (Debian Package Manager) project.
       Information about the project can be found at 
       ⟨https://wiki.debian.org/Teams/Dpkg/⟩.  If you have a bug report for
       this manual page, see
       ⟨http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/pkgreport.cgi?src=dpkg⟩.  This page
       was obtained from the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨https://salsa.debian.org/dpkg-team/dpkg.git⟩ on 2020-11-01.  (At
       that time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in the
       repository was 2020-07-08.)  If you discover any rendering problems
       in this HTML version of the page, or you believe there is a better or
       more up-to-date source for the page, or you have corrections or im‐
       provements to the information in this COLOPHON (which is not part of
       the original manual page), send a mail to man-pages@man7.org

1.19.6-2-g6e42d5                 2019-03-25                       dselect(1)

Pages that refer to this page: dpkg(1)dpkg-deb(1)dpkg-name(1)dpkg-scanpackages(1)dselect.cfg(5)