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Packages can be searched and listed using the command aptitude search foo. The status of these packages are listed in the leftmost column. The values of these status is explained in the Aptitude manual: p not installed, i installed.

I see the status pi beside some packages. What does this status mean?

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From the manpage:

Unless you pass the -F option, the output of aptitude search will
look something like this:

   i   apt                             - Advanced front-end for dpkg
   pi  apt-build                       - frontend to apt to build, optimize and in
   cp  apt-file                        - APT package searching utility -- command-
   ihA raptor-utils                    - Raptor RDF Parser utilities

Each search result is listed on a separate line. 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.
The second character indicates the stored action (if any; otherwise
a blank space is displayed) to be performed on the package, with
the most common actions being i, meaning that the package will be
installed, d, meaning that the package will be deleted, and p,
meaning that the package and its configuration files will be
removed. If the third character is A, the package was automatically
installed.

As it says:

  • p as the first character: no trace of the package exists on the system
  • i as the second character: the package will be installed

Also see:

  • Crap, The -1 wasn't intentional (was supposed to scroll in The Android app) and now i can’t remove it unless The answer is edited. Sorry! :-/ – mgor Aug 6 '15 at 6:58
  • @mgor you can after you edited it ;) – Rinzwind Aug 6 '15 at 7:17
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man aptitude says in part:

Unless you pass the -F option, the output of aptitude search will look something like this:

i   apt                             - Advanced front-end for dpkg
pi  apt-build                       - frontend to apt to build, optimize and in
cp  apt-file                        - APT package searching utility -- command-
ihA raptor-utils                    - Raptor RDF Parser utilities

Each search result is listed on a separate line. 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. The second character indicates the stored action (if any; otherwise a blank space is displayed) to be performed on the package, with the most common actions being i, meaning that the package will be installed, d, meaning that the package will be deleted, and p, meaning that the package and its configuration files will be removed. If the third character is A, the package was automatically installed.

For a complete list of the possible state and action flags, see the section “Accessing Package Information” in the aptitude reference guide. To customize the output of search, see the command-line options -F and --sort.

  • How can there be no trace of the package (p) and it is also installed (i) at the same time? That confusion is the reason I asked this question :-) – Ashwin Nanjappa Aug 6 '15 at 6:16
  • @AshwinNanjappa relevant part: "The second character indicates the stored action to be performed on the package, with the most common actions being i, meaning that the package will be installed" – Rinzwind Aug 6 '15 at 7:29
  • @Rinzwind Sorry for this naive question: what does it mean that "it will be installed". When and how will this package be installed by itself? On apt-get upgrade? – Ashwin Nanjappa Aug 6 '15 at 7:39
  • When you tell apt-get to install the package (or something that depends on it). – Rinzwind Aug 6 '15 at 7:58
  • @AshwinNanjappa it doesn't mean that it will be installed automatically, but that if something requires it, and you assent, it will be installed. – muru Aug 6 '15 at 8:30

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