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I have successfully installed some packages using the command line 'sudo apt-get install ...' when I have known in advance that those packages are available. But how can I search for or get a list of what is available in the repositories?

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up vote 49 down vote accepted

To search for a particular package by name or description:

From the command-line, use:

apt-cache search keyword

where the search keyword can be all or part of a package name or any words used in its description.

For example, apt-cache search proxy includes both these packages:

tinyproxy - A lightweight, non-caching, optionally anonymizing HTTP proxy
tircd - ircd proxy to the twitter API

Note: the list may be long, so you can pipe the output to less to make it scrollable one line or one screen at a time, i.e. apt-cache search something | less.

To get a list of ALL packages

apt-cache search .

Use Synaptic if you have X-forwarding enabled or are on a desktop

Synaptic is often a more convenient way to do this, but requires at least an X server on your end (unless you're running a desktop environment). Install with sudo apt-get synaptic if necessary.

  • Synaptic on ssh'd server via X forwarding:

    enter image description here

  • Synaptic running locally on Ubuntu Desktop:

    enter image description here

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A really full and useful answer - thank you –  Mark Thomas Jul 7 '12 at 21:30

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