DEBFOSTER(8) - man page online | administration and privileged commands

Weed unnecessary Debian packages.

January 5, 2019
DEBFOSTER(8)                       BSD System Manager's Manual                       DEBFOSTER(8)


debfoster — weed unnecessary Debian packages


debfoster [-acdefhiknopqrstvV] [--verbose] [--version] [--help] [--quiet] [--force] [--mark-only] [--upgrade] [--config file] [--keeperfile file] [--no-keeperfile] [--ignore-default-rules] [--show-keepers] [--show-orphans] [--show-depends package] [--show-dependents package] [--show-providers package] [--show-related package] [--use-tasks] [--option opt=val] [package1 ...] [package2- ...]


debfoster maintains a list of installed packages that were explicitly requested rather than installed as a dependency. Arguments are entirely optional, debfoster can be invoked per se after each run of dpkg and/or apt-get. Alternatively you can use debfoster to install and remove packages by specifying the pack‐ ages on the command line. Packages suffixed with a - are removed while packages without a suffix are installed. If a new package is encountered or if debfoster notices that a package that used to be a dependency is now an orphan, it will ask you what to do with it. If you decide to keep it, debfoster will just take note and continue. If you decide that this package is not inter‐ esting enough it will be removed as soon as debfoster is done asking questions. If your choices cause other packages to become orphaned more questions will ensue. Whenever debfoster asks you about a package, any of the following responses can be given: ‘y’ Yes, keep the package. This is the default response. ‘n’ No, delete the package. ‘p’ Prune the package. This tells debfoster to also delete all packages that are only installed because this package depends on them. A list of such packages, if any, is shown above the prompt. ‘s’ Skip this question. The next time you run debfoster it will ask you again about this package. ‘h’ Print a help message. ‘i’ or ‘?’ Show information about the package. ‘u’ Undo last response. ‘q’ Exit without removing packages. All changes will be lost. ‘x’ Save changes to debfoster database, remove unwanted packages, and exit without asking further questions. Command line options -v, --verbose debfoster will show which packages have disappeared, have become dependencies or (if Quiet is enabled) have become orphans. -V, --version Display version and copyright information. -h, --help Display a concise summary of the available options and argument syntax. -f, --force Don't ask anything and assume ‘no’ as the answer to all questions. It also installs any packages that seem to be missing, thus forcing your system to comply with the debfoster database. Can have ‘interesting’ results if you're not careful. -q, --quiet Don't ask anything and assume ‘yes’ as the answer to all questions. Useful to cre‐ ate an initial /var/lib/debfoster/keepers file or to recreate it after changing the configuration file. -m, --mark-only Instructs debfoster to make changes to the keeper file but not to actually install or delete any packages. This can be used to ‘edit’ a keeper file by invoking deb‐ foster one or more times in a row. The changes can then be committed by invoking debfoster with the --force option, which will delete/install any necessary packages. This is mainly useful for scripts and frontends, but may be useful from the command line as well. -u, --upgrade If used as ‘debfoster -u package’ it will install or upgrade the packages specified on the command line and try to upgrade all packages that it relies on. -c, --config file Specify a different configuration file to use. -k, --keeperfile file Specify a different debfoster database to use. -n, --no-keeperfile Don't read the debfoster database and start with an empty list. -i, --ignore-default-rules This will instruct debfoster to ignore the UseHold, UseEssential, MaxPriority, KeepSections, and NokeepSections settings in the config file (i.e., assume that any package can be an orphan). This is a good option for those who really want to make sure their system is squeaky clean. It's also useful when sharing or transferring a keeper file between multiple machines where different config files can cause some confusion. Properly used, -i eliminates that uncertainty. -a, --show-keepers Lists the contents of the debfoster database. -s, --show-orphans List all orphaned packages that are not mentioned in the debfoster database. -d, --show-depends package List all packages that this package depends on. -e, --show-dependents package List all packages in the debfoster database that depend on this package. -p, --show-providers package List all packages that provide the dependency target specified by package (e.g. "debfoster -p x-terminal-emulator" ). -r, --show-related package List all packages that are only installed because this package depends on them. -t, --use-tasks Make tasks visible as packages. This will make tasks that are selectable using tasksel(1) appear as packages named task-<label>. -o, --option opt=val Override any configuration option specified in the configuration file.


Some aspects of the behaviour of debfoster can be configured in the configuration file, /etc/debfoster.conf. Options are specified as Option = Value Option names are case insensitive. InstallCmd Default: apt-get install Command invoked with a number of packages on the command line. The command is not passed to /bin/sh but invoked like xargs(1) with a number of packages as extra options. RemoveCmd Default: apt-get --purge remove Like InstallCmd but for removing packages. InfoCmd Default: dpkg -s Like InstallCmd but called with a single package as an argument to display informa‐ tion on. KeeperFile Default: /var/lib/debfoster/keepers The file where the list of orphans is stored. You can use this file for reference when installing a machine or even to make identical Debian installs. DpkgStatus Default: /var/lib/dpkg/status The file where dpkg(8) stores its information about which packages are more or less installed. This value can usually be left untouched. DpkgAvailable Default: /var/lib/dpkg/available The file where dpkg(8) stores its information about which packages are available. This value can usually be left untouched. MaxPriority Default: standard Any packages with a priority greater than this value will be considered too basic to ask questions about. The default value means that questions will be asked about packages with priority "standard", "optional" and "extra". With the special value ‘ANY’ you can indicate that all known priorities should be considered too important to ask questions about. These priority values are known to debfoster (taken from the debian-policy package): required important standard optional extra UseHold Default: yes Use the hold attribute from the Status: line. Packages with this attribute won't ever be upgraded by apt, so it's safe to assume that you want to keep it. UseEssential Default: yes Use the Essential: line from dpkg(8) 's status file. Most packages which are marked essential shouldn't be removed anyway, so if you don't want to be bothered with it, enable this option. UsePreDepends Default: yes A package that pre-depends on another package requires the latter during installa‐ tion. This option will make debfoster count these pre-dependencies as ordinary dependencies. If you frequently update your packages you may want to keep an eye out for pre-depended packages that have become obsolete. UseRecommends Default: yes Recommended packages would be installed together with the package that recommends them in all usual setups. This option will make debfoster count these recommenda‐ tions as real dependencies. Enabling this option will enable you to better manage packages which were installed because another package recommended them. UseSuggests Default: no Packages suggested by another package usually enhance the function of the latter or have a related function which may be useful in combination with the package that suggested them. This option will make debfoster count these suggestions as real dependencies. Using this option will result in even fewer questions being asked. UseTasks Default: no Make tasks visible as packages. This will make tasks that are selectable using tasksel(1) appear as packages named task-<label>. debfoster will treat them as if they were normal packages. Tasks cannot be removed but marking a task for removal will stop debfoster asking questions about it. KeepSections Default: You may find that you are always interested in keeping (for example) documentation. With this option you can indicate that packages from a certain section should always be kept. You can specify a comma separated lists of ‘precious’ sections. NokeepSections Default: List the sections you are never interested in. For example, ‘libs’ is a good candi‐ date, as most libraries debfoster asks about are leftovers from old packages. GuessDepends Default: List name extensions for packages that you want to group with their base packages. Applications are often separated into multiple packages with names like "app", "app-doc", "app-dev". If you don't want to answer questions about "app-doc", you can add the "doc" extension to the GuessDepends list. NegativeKeepers Default: yes Remember explicit removals of packages. If a package is installed that has been explicitly removed before, remove it again without asking. Set this to no if you want to be asked anyway. Verbose Default: no Using this option has the same result as having -v on the command line. It will make debfoster show which packages have disappeared or have become a dependency. Force Default: no This option has the same meaning as the -f command line option. All orphaned pack‐ ages are scheduled for removal without asking any question. Quiet Default: no Having this option (which has the same meaning as the -q command line argument) in your configuration file more or less defeats the purpose of debfoster although the KeeperFile is still kept up-to-date.


Send reports to the Debian bug tracking system: with as much information as you can gather (error messages, configuration files, versions of dpkg/apt, whatever might be relevant). A tool such as reportbug might come in handy.


apt-get(8), apt-cache(8), dpkg(8), deborphan(1) tasksel(1)
Debian GNU/Linux January 5, 2019 Debian GNU/Linux
This manual Reference Other manuals
debfoster(8) referred by localepurge(8)
refer to apt-cache(8) | apt-get(8) | deborphan(1) | xargs(1)