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(Debian/Ubuntu) Discover what package a file belongs to

Terminal - (Debian/Ubuntu) Discover what package a file belongs to
dpkg -S /usr/bin/ls
2009-04-18 18:18:23
User: bwoodacre
(Debian/Ubuntu) Discover what package a file belongs to

'dpkg -S' just matches the string you supply it, so just using 'ls' as an argument matches any file from any package that has 'ls' anywhere in the filename. So usually it's a good idea to use an absolute path. You can see in the second example that 12 thousand files that are known to dpkg match the bare string 'ls'.


There is 1 alternative - vote for the best!

Terminal - Alternatives
dlocate /path/to/file
2010-11-18 19:07:12
User: towo

Works similar to dpkg -S, but uses the locatedb and is thus inarguably a lot faster - if the locatedb is current.

pacof -e rlogin
2011-11-04 13:17:04
User: pipeliner

Uses dpkg -S or apt-file to find the file you want and shows results in various ways. Available at https://github.com/Pipeliner/configs/blob/master/bin/pacof

pacof -xp 'bin/[^/]*mixer'





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What others think

oh yes, so sweet and tasty!

Comment by linuxrawkstar 310 weeks and 3 days ago

If you need regex,

apt-file -x search /some/file
Comment by stu 310 weeks and 3 days ago

apparently dlocate is much faster for this if you find yourself needing to do a lot of sleuthing.

Comment by bwoodacre 310 weeks and 2 days ago

Thanks for this :)

Comment by stormerider 310 weeks ago

This will do the opposite, what files a package generated during installation.

dpkg -L packagename
Comment by alperyilmaz 309 weeks and 5 days ago

I wish I could vote this up again! what a time saver.

Comment by linuxrawkstar 309 weeks and 1 day ago

The above are for apt based systems. For portage on gentoo, you need the app-portage/gentoolkit package installed and do

equery belongs /some/file
Comment by paulkoan 308 weeks and 6 days ago

I used grep to filter, and that additionally gives

(A) all symbolic link (with the same name) installed by the package as well,

(B) other files/directories with the same name installed by other packages.

if that info is of any use to you.

Example and output will make it more clear:


dpkg -S ip | grep "/ip$"


linux-headers-2.6.27-7-generic: /usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.27-7-generic/include/config/ip

iproute: /bin/ip

iproute: /sbin/ip

First line of the output is a directory by name ls intalled

by the package linux-headers-2.xxxx

Second line is the executable by name ip

The last line of the output is the symbolic link to

the command ip

You need to replace both instances of string ip with the command/file of your interest in my example command.

Comment by b_t 230 weeks and 4 days ago

Typo: First line of the output is a directory by name ls intalled

Read: First line of the output is a directory by name 'ip' installed

Comment by b_t 230 weeks and 4 days ago

You might want:

dpkg -S `which ls`

You might know the command but not the full path, i.e. on Ubuntu 11.10:

which ls


So your command would't actually tell you what package ls comes from on this distro.

Comment by andrewsomething 178 weeks and 3 days ago

in the redhat world this is similar to rpm -qf fllename.

I just learned this for debian based systems today. It's useful.

Comment by sonic 110 weeks and 2 days ago

A page with all common package managers commands:


Comment by kernel01 85 weeks and 1 day ago

Your point of view

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