$ sudo aptitude search node

p   nodejs                                                                 - Node.js event-based server-side javascript engine  
p   nodejs:i386                                                            - Node.js event-based server-side javascript engine  
p   nodejs-dbg                                                             - Node.js event-based server-side javascript engine (debug)  
p   nodejs-dbg:i386                                                        - Node.js event-based server-side javascript engine (debug)  
p   nodejs-dev                                                             - Development files for Node.js  
p   nodejs-dev:i386                                                        - Development files for Node.js  

I know from man aptitude that:

The first character of each line indicates the current state of the package: the most common states are p, meaning that no trace of the package exists on the system, c, meaning that the package was deleted but its configuration files remain on the system, i, meaning that the package is installed, and v, meaning that the package is virtual.

i for "installed", c for "config", v for "virtual". That all makes sense.

Why does p mean "not installed at all, not even the configuration files" (note the lack of the letter "p" in that whole phrase!)?

I have to reread the man page every single time I see that p, because I always forget, and that really annoys me.

  • 1
    This is not a question, it is a complaint. If you have found issues in software packages from the Ubuntu archives, then please file a bug on launchpad. In this particular case, you are having your own opinion on the wording of apt and aptitudes user interface, documentation or status messages. You're not alone, many may have found the wording "installing previously installed package" for the installation of a new package that never has been installed inappropriate, but most of us have accepted this wording. From APT's point of view every package has once been installed. – LiveWireBT Oct 2 '13 at 20:32
  • @LiveWireBT It's a question. I accept the wording. I just didn't know how to remember it. I didn't complain about "installing previously installed package", not even once. Please read more carefully before pronouncing judgement, thanks. – chadoh Oct 2 '13 at 23:15
  • I'm not accusing you of anything. Just wondering how the letter p as a status can really annoy someone. If you have an idea of how to make open source software and it's documentation better or more user friendly, then please do. Unfortunately AskUbuntu is the wrong site for this. – LiveWireBT Oct 3 '13 at 10:14
  • @LiveWireBT I had no idea what p stood for; the lack of mnemonic required me to re-open the man page every time I used the tool. That was annoying. Knowing that p stands for "purged" will prevent this nuisance in the future. // I guess I do have an idea of how to make it better. Add "...p , for 'purged', meaning that no trace..." to those docs. But I didn't know enough to make such a request, before asking this question here. // I don't care to make the software better, honestly. I just wanted the mnemonic. Which I got here on AskUbuntu, a perfect site for such a thing. – chadoh Oct 3 '13 at 20:50

p is for : the package and all its configuration files were removed, or the package was never installed. According to aptitude documentation

[ http://algebraicthunk.net/~dburrows/projects/aptitude/doc/en/ch02s02s02.html ].

And p is for "purged" so it is absent from the system. I guess that is the meaning :)

| improve this answer | |
  • p is for "purged"! That's it. Thanks. – chadoh Oct 2 '13 at 23:15

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