Searching for packages on an Ubuntu system with the aptitude command.

The aptitude command for Ubuntu may be used to search for packages. This makes it easy to find the appropriate package you are searching for. In this example, I am searching for the openvpn packages.

ubuntu ~ $ sudo aptitude search openvpn
p   gadmin-openvpn-client                                                       - GTK+ configuration tool for openvpn (client)
p   gadmin-openvpn-client-dbg                                                   - GTK+ configuration tool for openvpn (debug for client)
p   gadmin-openvpn-server                                                       - GTK+ configuration tool for openvpn (server)
p   gadmin-openvpn-server-dbg                                                   - GTK+ configuration tool for openvpn (debug for server)
p   network-manager-openvpn                                                     - network management framework (OpenVPN plugin core)
p   network-manager-openvpn-gnome                                               - network management framework (OpenVPN plugin GNOME GUI)
i   openvpn                                                                     - virtual private network daemon
p   openvpn-auth-ldap                                                           - OpenVPN LDAP authentication module
p   openvpn-auth-radius                                                         - OpenVPN RADIUS authentication module
p   openvpn-auth-radius-dbg                                                     - debugging symbols for openvpn-plugin-radius
p   openvpn-blacklist                                                           - list of blacklisted OpenVPN RSA shared keys
p   zentyal-openvpn                                                             - Zentyal - VPN Service

This aptitude command will list all packages that will install the vim editor.

ubuntu ~ $ sudo aptitude search '?provides (vim)'
p   vim-athena                                                                  - Vi IMproved - enhanced vi editor - with Athena GUI
p   vim-gnome                                                                   - Vi IMproved - enhanced vi editor - with GNOME2 GUI
p   vim-gtk                                                                     - Vi IMproved - enhanced vi editor - with GTK2 GUI
p   vim-nox                                                                     - Vi IMproved - enhanced vi editor - with scripting languages support
p   vim-vimerl                                                                  - Erlang plugin for Vim
p   vim-vimerl-syntax                                                           - Erlang syntax for Vim

This command will list all packages that were automatically installed.

ubuntu ~ $ sudo aptitude search '?automatic'

This is how to search for packages with a certain name.

ubuntu ~ $ sudo aptitude search '?name (emacs)'
p   acl2-emacs                                                                  - Computational Logic for Applicative Common Lisp: emacs interface
p   cxref-emacs                                                                 - Generates LaTeX and HTML documentation for C programs
i   emacs                                                                       - GNU Emacs editor (metapackage)
p   emacs-calfw                                                                 - calendar framework for Emacs
p   emacs-calfw-howm                                                            - calendar framework for Emacs (howm add-on)
p   emacs-chess                                                                 - a client and library for playing Chess from Emacs
p   emacs-goodies-el                                                            - Miscellaneous add-ons for Emacs
v   emacs-goodies-extra-el                                                      -
p   emacs-intl-fonts                                                            - Fonts to allow multi-lingual PostScript printing from Emacs
p   emacs-jabber                                                                - Jabber client for Emacsen
p   emacs-mozc                                                                  - Mozc for Emacs
p   emacs-mozc-bin                                                              - Helper module for emacs-mozc
p   emacs-window-layout                                                         - window layout manager for emacs
p   emacs23                                                                     - The GNU Emacs editor (with GTK+ user interface)
p   emacs23-bin-common                                                          - The GNU Emacs editor's shared, architecture dependent files
p   emacs23-common                                                              - The GNU Emacs editor's shared, architecture independent infrastructure
p   emacs23-common-non-dfsg                                                     - GNU Emacs shared, architecture independent, non-DFSG items
p   emacs23-el                                                                  - GNU Emacs LISP (.el) files
v   emacs23-gtk                                                                 -
p   emacs23-lucid                                                               - The GNU Emacs editor
p   emacs23-nox                                                                 - The GNU Emacs editor (without X support)
i A emacs24                                                                     - GNU Emacs editor (with GTK+ user interface)
i A emacs24-bin-common                                                          - GNU Emacs editor's shared, architecture dependent files
i A emacs24-common                                                              - GNU Emacs editor's shared, architecture independent infrastructure
i A emacs24-common-non-dfsg                                                     - GNU Emacs common non-DFSG items, including the core documentation
p   emacs24-dbg                                                                 - Debugging symbols for emacs24
p   emacs24-el                                                                  - GNU Emacs LISP (.el) files
p   emacs24-lucid                                                               - GNU Emacs editor
p   emacs24-lucid-dbg                                                           - Debugging symbols for emacs24-lucid
p   emacs24-nox                                                                 - GNU Emacs editor (without X support)
p   emacs24-nox-dbg                                                             - Debugging symbols for emacs24-nox
v   emacsen                                                                     -
i A emacsen-common                                                              - Common facilities for all emacsen
p   emacspeak                                                                   - speech output interface to Emacs
p   emacspeak-espeak-server                                                     - espeak syntesis server for emacspeak
p   emacspeak-ss                                                                - Emacspeak speech servers for several synthesizers
p   maxima-emacs                                                                - Computer algebra system -- emacs interface
p   notmuch-emacs                                                               - thread-based email index, search and tagging (emacs interface)
p   python-ropemacs                                                             - Emacs mode for Python refactoring
p   supercollider-emacs                                                         - SuperCollider mode for Emacs
p   xemacs21                                                                    - highly customizable text editor
p   xemacs21-basesupport                                                        - Editor and kitchen sink -- compiled elisp support files
p   xemacs21-basesupport-el                                                     - Editor and kitchen sink -- source elisp support files
p   xemacs21-bin                                                                - highly customizable text editor -- support binaries
p   xemacs21-gnome-mule                                                         - highly customizable text editor -- transitional package
p   xemacs21-gnome-mule-canna-wnn                                               - highly customizable text editor -- transitional package
p   xemacs21-gnome-nomule                                                       - highly customizable text editor -- transitional package
p   xemacs21-mule                                                               - highly customizable text editor -- Mule binary
p   xemacs21-mule-canna-wnn                                                     - highly customizable text editor -- Mule binary compiled with Canna and Wnn
p   xemacs21-mulesupport                                                        - Editor and kitchen sink -- Mule elisp support files
p   xemacs21-mulesupport-el                                                     - Editor and kitchen sink -- source elisp support files
p   xemacs21-nomule                                                             - highly customizable text editor -- Non-mule binary
p   xemacs21-support                                                            - highly customizable text editor -- architecture independent support files
p   xemacs21-supportel                                                          - highly customizable text editor -- non-required library files

Finally, this command will list all/any packages that are not required by any other package.

ubuntu ~ $ sudo aptitude search '?garbage'

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