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This command can only list contents of installed packages,


but how to list contents of a non-installed package, to preview/examine the package?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 134 down vote accepted

dpkg -c (or --contents) lists the contents of a .deb package file (It is a front-end to dpkg-deb.)

dpkg -c package_file.deb

To work directly with package names rather than package files, you can use apt-file. (You may need to install the apt-file package first.)

sudo apt-file update        
apt-file list package_name

As stated in the first comment, apt-file lists contents for packages in your already-configured Apt repositories. It is irrelevant whether any particular package is or is not installed.

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apt-file also needs to be updated (sudo apt-file update), and only lists contents for packages in your already-configured Apt repositories. –  quack quixote Jan 28 '10 at 22:54
@quackquixote: In Ubuntu 12.04 it's automatic –  confiq May 13 '12 at 10:43
dpkg -c nice! –  d-_-b Oct 15 '12 at 9:57
The Apt-file answer assumes that your package is coming from a configured repository instead of a .deb file you have downloaded separately. The original question is ambiguous though. –  Zoredache Jan 15 '13 at 23:27
@confiq, not by my testing. I'm running 12.04.4 and it still says "E: The cache is empty. You need to run 'apt-file update' first." –  Matthew Flaschen Jun 28 '14 at 20:48

Use --contents instead of -L:

dpkg --contents PACKAGENAME

When used in this manner, dpkg acts as a front-end to dpkg-deb, so use man dpkg-deb to see all the options.

You can also use an archive browser to view the package contents.

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This doesn't work unless I installed it first and then uninstall it. –  Xiè Jìléi Dec 15 '09 at 14:07
it should work fine if you give it a .deb file as an argument (instead of PACKAGENAME, give it PACKAGE-DEB-FILE). –  quack quixote Dec 15 '09 at 22:11
This answer is wrong. You have to have the package installed first. If you don't have it installed, then you don't have a .deb file. –  Neil May 1 '12 at 2:14
This command works for me. For example, I downloaded google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb from Google. Then issued the command: dpkg --contents google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb and it listed out all the files it will install (mostly to /opt/google/chrome), none of which are currently installed on my system as I type this. (I'm running Xubuntu 11.10 if that matters.) –  quux00 Aug 4 '12 at 21:11
@Neil, the answer is not wrong. Just because you have a deb file, doesn't mean it's installed. apt-file needs the entire build-essential package. O.O –  d-_-b Oct 15 '12 at 10:00

dpkg --contents will let you look at the uninstalled package. If the .deb is not on your system yet, do

apt-get --download-only install pkgname

The package will get downloaded to /var/cache/apt/archives but not installed.

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Can I just list the contents without download it? If I'm on a very slow connection, and if the package is too large to download. If the .deb file has a file header where contents list goes, I guess download the whole package maybe not necessary. Is this possible? –  Xiè Jìléi Dec 15 '09 at 14:06

The best way would be to browse directly the package repository:

http://packages.debian.org/[distro name]/all/[package name]/filelist



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apt-get download packages-name
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