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Decoding dpkg flags: What do ‘ii’ and other flags mean?

Ubuntu 6

The dpkg command is a powerful tool used in Debian-based Linux distributions for managing software packages. When you run dpkg with the -l flag to list installed packages, you’ll notice a column of flags like ‘ii’, ‘rc’, and others. These flags provide useful information about the status of each package. In this article, we’ll decode these flags and explain what they mean.

Quick Answer

The ‘ii’ flag in dpkg represents that a package is installed and in the desired state. Other flags like ‘rc’ indicate that the package has been removed but its configuration files remain, while ‘pn’ means the package has been purged, completely removing it including its configuration files. Understanding these flags can help you effectively manage your Debian-based system.

Understanding dpkg Flags

The flags in dpkg output are two or three characters long. The first character represents the desired package state, the second character represents the current package state, and the optional third character represents the error state.

Desired Package State

The first character of the flag represents the desired state of the package:

  • u (unknown): The package’s desired state is unknown or has been left unset.
  • i (install): The package is marked for installation.
  • r (remove/deinstall): The package is marked for removal but not purging.
  • p (purge): The package is marked for purging (complete removal, including configuration files).
  • h (hold): The package is marked on hold, which means it will not be handled by dpkg until the hold is removed.

Current Package State

The second character of the flag represents the current state of the package:

  • n (not-installed): The package is not installed on your system.
  • i (installed): The package is successfully installed.
  • c (config-files): The package has been removed, but its configuration files remain.
  • U (unpacked): The package is unpacked but not fully configured.
  • F (half-configured): The package is half-configured, meaning the configuration process failed for some reason.
  • h (half-installed): The package is half-installed, meaning the installation process failed for some reason.
  • W (triggers-awaited): The package is waiting for a trigger from another package.
  • t (triggers-pending): The package has been triggered.

Error State

The optional third character of the flag represents the error state:

  • R (reinst-required): The package is broken and requires reinstallation.

Common dpkg Flags

Now that we understand the individual characters, let’s look at some common flags and their meanings:

  • ii: The package is installed and is in the desired state. This is the most common flag you’ll see when running dpkg -l.
  • rc: The package has been removed, but its configuration files remain.
  • pn: The package has been purged, meaning it has been completely removed, including its configuration files.
  • iU: The package is unpacked but not fully configured.
  • iF: The package is half-configured, meaning the configuration process failed for some reason.
  • ih: The package is half-installed, meaning the installation process failed for some reason.

Conclusion

Understanding dpkg flags can help you manage your Debian-based system more effectively. If you encounter a flag you don’t recognize, you can refer back to this article or consult the dpkg-query manual page by running man dpkg-query in the terminal.

Remember, dpkg is a powerful tool, and with great power comes great responsibility. Always be cautious when installing, removing, or purging packages to avoid damaging your system.

What is the purpose of the `dpkg` command?

The dpkg command is used in Debian-based Linux distributions to manage software packages. It allows users to install, remove, and manage packages on their system.

How can I list installed packages using `dpkg`?

You can list installed packages by running dpkg -l in the terminal. This will display a list of packages along with their flags, which provide information about their status.

What does the flag ‘ii’ mean in the `dpkg` output?

The flag ‘ii’ indicates that a package is installed and is in the desired state. It is the most common flag you’ll see when running dpkg -l.

How can I remove a package using `dpkg`?

To remove a package, you can run dpkg -r <package-name>. This will remove the package from your system, but it will not purge its configuration files.

What does the flag ‘rc’ mean in the `dpkg` output?

The flag ‘rc’ indicates that a package has been removed, but its configuration files remain on the system. This allows for easy reinstallation of the package without losing any custom configurations.

How can I purge a package using `dpkg`?

To purge a package, you can run dpkg -P <package-name>. This will completely remove the package from your system, including its configuration files.

What does the flag ‘iU’ mean in the `dpkg` output?

The flag ‘iU’ indicates that a package is unpacked but not fully configured. This usually happens when the installation process is interrupted or encounters an error.

How can I hold a package using `dpkg`?

To hold a package and prevent dpkg from handling it, you can run dpkg --set-selections <package-name> with the package name. This will mark the package as "hold" and it will not be affected by future dpkg operations.

What does the flag ‘iF’ mean in the `dpkg` output?

The flag ‘iF’ indicates that a package is half-configured, meaning the configuration process failed for some reason. This usually requires manual intervention to fix the configuration issues.

How can I view the manual page for `dpkg-query`?

You can view the manual page for dpkg-query by running man dpkg-query in the terminal. This will provide detailed information about the dpkg-query command and its usage.

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