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What is the fastest way to lookup info on a program that is not currently installed?

Today I needed Ubuntu to remind me about some event, and I though that Ubuntu could be as smart as Google's I'm Feeling Lucky button. But unfortunately, that didn't work:

$ remind
The program 'remind' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install remind
$ man remind
No manual entry for remind
$ help remind
bash: help: no help topics match `remind'.  Try `help help' or `man -k remind'
or `info remind'.

Before installing I expected to check is remind is really what I need.

Of course info remind didn't help (no need to show it at all). man -k was not tool helpful either:

$ man -k remind
calendar (1)         - reminder service

And digging about what does it man -k mean was not successful too:

-k, --apropos              equivalent to apropos

So, how do you find needed apps from command line?

6

There's also dman from the bikeshed package.

sudo apt-get install bikeshed

It lets you read manual pages from the internet, without the need of installing the corresponding packages:

dman remind
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  • 1
    The only downside is that bikeshed contains way too much stuff. =) – anatoly techtonik Nov 3 '15 at 14:51
  • @techtonik: agreed. However note that it has no dependencies (only recommended packages) – Andrea Corbellini Nov 3 '15 at 16:07
  • Strange. apt-get install bikeshed fetched 40Mb and 59 packages (including vim and byobu). Does Ubuntu install recommended packages by default? – anatoly techtonik Nov 3 '15 at 19:41
  • @techtonik: yes, recommended packages are installed by default. Use apt install --no-install-recommends to avoid them – Andrea Corbellini Nov 4 '15 at 9:25
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  1. Read the online man pages.

  2. Using apt-cache

    apt-cache show remind
    

    or

    apt-cache show remind | awk '/Description-en/ {print; a=1; next} a && /^ / {print; next} {a=0}'
    
  3. Everything else is included in the package itself.

    apt-get download remind
    dpkg -x *.deb remind
    man ./remind/usr/share/man/man1/rem.1.gz
    

Example output

apt-cache show remind

Package: remind
Priority: optional
Section: universe/utils
Installed-Size: 411
Maintainer: Ubuntu Developers <ubuntu-devel-discuss@lists.ubuntu.com>
Original-Maintainer: Ana Beatriz Guerrero Lopez <ana@debian.org>
Architecture: i386
Version: 03.01.15-1
Depends: libc6 (>= 2.7)
Suggests: tkremind, wyrd
Filename: pool/universe/r/remind/remind_03.01.15-1_i386.deb
Size: 190964
MD5sum: e476e0b4e49a211ad860cde57b1b6ea5
SHA1: b342c7f05e560aecc3c7bac9aa1ae1fef424121c
SHA256: 67f34f03723e03653fc25d119b680da1ab03bf28fc78d80c2a173184cbf682bc
Description-en: sophisticated calendar and alarm program
 Remind allows you to remind yourself of upcoming events and
 appointments.  Each reminder or alarm can consist of a message sent
 to standard output, or a program to be executed.
 .
 It also features: sophisticated date calculation, moon phases,
 sunrise/sunset, Hebrew calendar, alarms, PostScript output, tcl/tk
 front-end and proper handling of holidays.
 .
 Reminders can be created by the remind scripting language or by using
 the graphical frontend package "tkremind".
Description-md5: 5b163d21d42fbc03e201fdb61071c10d
Homepage: http://www.roaringpenguin.com/products/remind/
Bugs: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+filebug
Origin: Ubuntu

apt-cache show remind | awk '/Description-en/ {print; a=1; next} a && /^ / {print; next} {a=0}'

Description-en: sophisticated calendar and alarm program
 Remind allows you to remind yourself of upcoming events and
 appointments.  Each reminder or alarm can consist of a message sent
 to standard output, or a program to be executed.
 .
 It also features: sophisticated date calculation, moon phases,
 sunrise/sunset, Hebrew calendar, alarms, PostScript output, tcl/tk
 front-end and proper handling of holidays.
 .
 Reminders can be created by the remind scripting language or by using
 the graphical frontend package "tkremind".
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  • Is there some tool that is easier to remember and that doesn't show all this low level stuff? – anatoly techtonik Nov 3 '15 at 10:41
  • I'd also expect a command line help on remind or some basic info how to use it. – anatoly techtonik Nov 3 '15 at 10:41
  • 1
    Install synaptic for a better overview of the package details. – A.B. Nov 3 '15 at 10:43
  • synaptic remind didn't work for me. – anatoly techtonik Nov 3 '15 at 19:37

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