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Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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7.1.1 dpkg

This is the main package management program. dpkg can be invoked with many options. Some common uses are:

  • Find out all the options: dpkg --help.
  • Print out the control file (and other information) for a specified package: dpkg --info foo_VVV-RRR.deb
  • Install a package (including unpacking and configuring) onto the file system of the hard disk: dpkg --install foo_VVV-RRR.deb.
  • Unpack (but do not configure) a Debian archive into the file system of the hard disk: dpkg --unpack foo_VVV-RRR.deb. Note that this operation does not necessarily leave the package in a usable state; some files may need further customization to run properly. This command removes any already-installed version of the program and runs the preinst (see What is a Debian preinst, postinst, prerm, and postrm script?, Section 6.6) script associated with the package.
  • Configure a package that already has been unpacked: dpkg --configure foo. Among other things, this action runs the postinst (see What is a Debian preinst, postinst, prerm, and postrm script?, Section 6.6) script associated with the package. It also updates the files listed in the conffiles for this package. Notice that the 'configure' operation takes as its argument a package name (e.g., foo), not the name of a Debian archive file (e.g., foo_VVV-RRR.deb).
  • Extract a single file named "blurf" (or a group of files named "blurf*" from a Debian archive: dpkg --fsys-tarfile foo_VVV-RRR.deb | tar -xf - blurf*
  • Remove a package (but not its configuration files): dpkg --remove foo.
  • Remove a package (including its configuration files): dpkg --purge foo.
  • List the installation status of packages containing the string (or regular expression) "foo*": dpkg --list 'foo*'.

Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
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