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I'd like to find out which packages

sudo apt-get build-dep <package>

would install (if I already got some dependencies installed, I'd also like to see those → so running or simulating the above is not enough). Command line preferred.

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I'm confused, doesn't sudo apt-get build-dep <package> show the list of packages (if the package has any build dependencies) it is going to install? – Alvin Row Jan 13 '11 at 17:54
Unfortunately that only shows packages that aren't installed. – htorque Jan 13 '11 at 17:59

3 Answers 3

up vote 32 down vote accepted

For a full list of dependencies, including the dependencies' dependencies, you can use:

apt-rdepends --build-depends

The command may remind you to install apt-rdepends first.

You can use the following command to only show the ones that are not installed:

apt-rdepends --build-depends --print-state | grep NotInstalled

See apt-rdepends --help for all the options.

Note: This will generate a massive list.
apt-rdepends -b xterm, for example, generates 8773 lines of output, and takes it's time doing it.

If you only want to see the packages that are required to build the topmost package, i.e. what do I need to install to build nautilus, run:

apt-rdepends --build-depends --follow=DEPENDS nautilus

This is roughly equivalent to Carsten Thiel's answer (The following NEW packages will be installed), but the output format is a bit nicer. It also only shows the topmost package, whereas simulated apt-get also shows packages installed as dependencies of those.

This also shows packages that are installed. But it may also show packages that are installed by default. Unfortunately, neither method is much help when you're trying to clean up your system after running apt-get build-dep. As far as I know, there isn't a reliable method of finding which ones were installed except from looking at the apt log file at /var/log/apt/history.log.

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Thanks, the version with --follow=DEPENDS is exactly what I was looking for. You can also find those build dependencies on Launchpad, eg. for Nautilus: (scroll down). – htorque Jan 13 '11 at 19:23

The option -s (--simulate) will output everything that would be done without doing anything. You don't even need root privileges for that.

apt-get -s build-dep <package>
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See my comment above - this won't show already installed packages. Sorry for not being precise in my question. – htorque Jan 13 '11 at 19:28
@CarstenThiel: thanks, this helped me. – 0xC0000022L Dec 16 '13 at 12:34
apt-cache showsrc <pkgname> | grep ^Build-Depends

showsrc displays the debian/control file for a given source package. We then grep for the line(s) which begin with 'Build-Depends' which has the list of packages needed to build from source.

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+1 if you explain what apt-cache showsrc and what | grep does. Still, good answer. Thanks for taking the time to provide it. – MadMike Dec 28 '14 at 12:17

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