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I'm seeing various instructions that request that you install something like:

apt-get install lamp-server^

With the oddball caret in the command. It doesn't seem to be mentioned in apt-get manual. What's the deal ?

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The ^ character is not a typo. If you remove it, apt-get will complain that the package cannot be found.

This article and its comments describe what the caret does:

Well, the answer is that the caret symbol is a short form for performing a task that otherwise the program “tasksel” would have done with the given package name. tasksel is a program to ease the installation of commonly used things that go together for a particular use.

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Learn something new every day. – coteyr Nov 5 '12 at 0:13
This detail missing from the man page for 3 yrs is a terrible thing. – Jay _silly_evarlast_ Wren May 17 '15 at 20:45

Lekensteyn's answer is correct,

The ^ symbol is used to replace tasksel (a tool that was/is used to install common sets of packages).

By doing

apt-get install lamp-server^

You are actually running installing a set of packages that would have been installed via the command:

tasksel lamp-server

Sorry for the confusion the bash explanation may have caused.

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This is not correct. The apt-get command would error out on unrecognized names. – Lekensteyn Nov 4 '12 at 21:52
I stand corrected, it does appear that it has been used in apt-get to replace tasksel as you mentioned. I will update my answer. – coteyr Nov 5 '12 at 0:05
Yes, but this works even without tasksel command being installed. And I don't have the /usr/share/tasksel/ directory, so I can't see what other cool "tasks" are available. It's only lamp-server^ everywhere. So where does apt-get take it from? – Tomasz Gandor Oct 1 '14 at 7:03

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