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 ?


2 Answers 2


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.

  • 2
    Learn something new every day.
    – coteyr
    Nov 5, 2012 at 0:13
  • 2
    This detail missing from the man page for 3 yrs is a terrible thing. May 17, 2015 at 20:45
  • I don't installed tasksel in my system still it's working. Sep 7, 2018 at 9:36
  • @HardikGajjar The reason is that tasksel is just a very useful command for working with "tasks". You can install tasks without tasksel. But (as explained here) is better using tasksel than with the apt/caret way. Also it seems apt-cache doesn't provide a way to list tasks as tasksel --list-task. Jan 3, 2019 at 5:29

The ^ symbol let you install "Tasks", a set of packages. This can replace tasksel, dedicated tool to work with tasks.

By doing

apt-get install lamp-server^

You are actually running installing a set of packages that would have been installed via the command (even is not exactly the same):

tasksel lamp-server

In other words: Tasks are very similar to meta-packages and live independently of tasksel. You can install tasks without installing tasksel package.

  • This is not correct. The apt-get command would error out on unrecognized names.
    – Lekensteyn
    Nov 4, 2012 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, 2012 at 0:05
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    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? Oct 1, 2014 at 7:03

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