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As I understand it, rdepends lists packages which depend on the specified package.

Example:

$ apt-cache rdepends abiword
abiword
Reverse Depends:
  abiword:i386
  xubuntu-desktop
 |python-carquinyol-0.96
  pkpgcounter
  lubuntu-desktop
  junior-writing
  gnome
 |freemind-doc
  abiword-plugin-mathview
  abiword-plugin-grammar
  abiword-dbg

In this output, what does | mean?

As per this question, it means 'or' in apt-cache depends, however that doesn't seem relevant here (package1 or package2 depending on abiword is impossible).

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I had been assuming it meant the package was already installed. It does not. –  Oli Jan 17 at 11:08

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In the example you give, the pipe | means that, for python-carquinyol-0.96 or freemind-doc, abiword is not the only package that satisfies the dependencies.

For example, if you installed freemind-doc, abiword or something else will do. Running apt-cache show freemind-doc you can see:

Recommends: evince | openoffice.org-writer | abiword | kword | pdf-viewer

which means that installing any of these packages is sufficient.

Compare that to the package xubuntu-desktop, shown without a |:

Recommends: abiword, abiword-plugin-grammar, ...

Here there are no alternatives to abiword; if you want all the recommended packages installed, you must install abiword.

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1  
Better answer than mine so +1 :) –  Rinzwind Jan 17 at 11:22

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