Some (most?) packages in Debian, have tags. For example:

=# apt-cache show squirrelmail | perl -lne 'print if /^Tag:/.../^\S/'
Tag: implemented-in::php, interface::web, mail::imap, mail::smtp,
 mail::user-agent, network::server, protocol::http, protocol::imap,
 protocol::smtp, role::program, scope::application, use::browsing,
 use::editing, use::searching, use::transmission, use::viewing,
 web::TODO, web::application, works-with::mail
Section: web

But, I can't find a way, to list all packages with given tag. Is it possible?


You probably want to take a look at all the documentation surrounding Debtags. It's... not as simple as you might think. No, I don't know why, either.

  • 2
    Just a word of comment - I picked this answer, because debtags seems to do what I need (debtags search "mail::user-agent && interface::web") while axi-cache seems to have problems when searching for multiple tags at once. – user13185 Jul 8 '12 at 19:04

I wonder why people haven't answered:

aptitude search '?tag(protocol::dns)'

aptitude search allows complex search queries with probes on different package description fields and logical operators:

aptitude search '?tag(game::strategy) ?installed'
aptitude search '?tag(protocol::dns) !?installed'

Refer to Search term reference in Aptitude User's Manual from aptitude-doc-en package (/usr/share/doc/aptitude/html/en/index.html).

  • this does it very well – Oliver Dechant Aug 29 '18 at 10:34
  • aptitude search '?tag(section::games)' chess seems to list all chess games on Ubuntu... the reason I gave this example is that apt-cache show lists the section of an Ubuntu package. The command you just stated here enables us to search using those sections (I guess...(?)) :) – polynomial_donut Jul 16 at 17:42

Use axi-cache from the apt-xapian-index package. You can, for example do axi-cache search --all protocol::smtp. The tab-completion for axi-cache is extremely advanced, so hit tab often. For example, axi-cache search --all protocol::smtp <tab><tab> will show you what other tags you might want based on the fact that you already specified the first.


If you install debtags, you can use it to search for tags like this:

debtags search made-of::icons
debtags search "made-of::icons && x11::theme"
debtags tagcat               # Shows all tags and their description
debtags tagshow x11::TODO    # Shows a single tag plus description

debtags also comes with a nice bash tab completion.

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