Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Once upon a time, if I wanted to know what a particular (uninstalled) packages was for, I could go

apt-cache show <package>

and it would produce a slew of information, including a good couple of paragraphs describing the package.

This has changed recently. Now the "Description" field is only ever one line.

On an older, system, It goes:

mslade@natty1:~$ apt-cache show apt
[snip]
Description: Advanced front-end for dpkg
 This is Debian's next generation front-end for the dpkg package manager.
 It provides the apt-get utility and APT dselect method that provides a
 simpler, safer way to install and upgrade packages.
 .
 APT features complete installation ordering, multiple source capability
 and several other unique features, see the Users Guide in apt-doc.

And now:

mslade@mickpc:~$ apt-cache show apt
[snip]
Description: commandline package manager

The long descriptions are still in the package files, and you can query them with dpkg -s if you've already installed them, but this isn't helpful if you just want to know more about some package that was mentioned on some web site.

I have searched everywhere for some source for these descriptions. The best I have some up with so far is, download the .deb file and run dpkg-deb -I on it. This is really overkill if all you want is the metadata.

Is there a better way?

Update: I just installed a new pangolin VM and noticed its apt-cache show gave long descriptions, until i fudged /etc/apt/sources.list to use my own mirror, produced with debmirror. I suspect debmirror is the culprit.

share|improve this question
    
I still see more than one line. I see what you see in the "older system". This is on Lubuntu 12.10. And this is also for software that I haven't installed (but are available). –  user25656 Mar 1 '13 at 15:54
    
I also tested this on a system running Ubuntu Raring (what will eventually be released as 13.04) and I do get a long description. –  roadmr Mar 1 '13 at 16:10
add comment

2 Answers 2

This sounds like you have something like

Acquire::Languages { "none"; };

somewhere in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/

Replace it by

Acquire::Languages { "environment"; };

or

Acquire::Languages { "en"; };

You may need to run

apt-get update

to download to corresponding translation files (/var/lib/apt/lists/*Translation-*)

share|improve this answer
    
No, nothing of the sort. See question edit. –  Michael Slade Mar 2 '13 at 16:12
    
That answer is so perfectly right for me. –  Robert Siemer Mar 10 at 18:01
add comment
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Passing --i18n to debmirror has fixed this.

This is an ubuntu quirk. Debian's Packages files contain the long english descriptions, ubuntu has pulled them out into Translation-en files. debmirror assumes you only need translation files if you want something besides english, so it doesn't mirror any by default.

(Is this worth keeping as a question/answer?)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.