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With yum it was simple: yum list *xxx* but this does not work with apt-get.

How can I do a search like this?

Also, how do I see what package provides a specific command?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you wish to search a specific string only in package names, you can do:

apt-cache search --names-only 'xxx'

This will return anything that contains 'xxx' in their package name.

You can also use regular expressions:

apt-cache search --names-only 'php5$'

This will return any package with their name ending in php5.

Regular expressions can also be used without the --names-only. See apt-cache(8) man page.

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aptitude search operates in the same way and you should really be using aptitude rather than apt-get these days. – kaerast Jul 2 '10 at 11:38
kaerast, you enlightened me! aptitude is the way. Thank. You should put this as an answer instead of a comment. "aptitude search" – sorin Jul 2 '10 at 12:50

First Question: use dselect or aptitude to see/search all available packagesm, their both curses frontends to apt-get and/or dpkg

Second Question: dpkg -S <COMMAND>

It would be wise to include the whole path in your dpkg search (e.g. /bin/ls, not just ls).

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An alternative is "apt-cache search"

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Yet another alternative is axi-cache (in the apt-xapian-index package). It uses the xapian search engine to search through the apt archives.

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