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I can see libfreeimage3-dev in synaptic and have installed it from there, but what is it that I can't see it from the command line? I tried sudo aptitude update...

mike@sleepycat:~$ sudo aptitude search '~n.*freeimage3.*'
i   libfreeimage3                   - Support library for graphics image formats
p   libfreeimage3-dbg               - Support library for graphics image formats

Any ideas?

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The package you want is actually libfreeimage-dev. Your pattern doesn't match that, because it has the 3 in it.

Also, your pattern is overly complicated, and searching doesn't need sudo. Instead:

aptitude search freeimage

which returns:

p   libfreeimage-dev         - Support library for graphics image formats
p   libfreeimage3            - Support library for graphics image formats
p   libfreeimage3-dbg        - Support library for graphics image formats

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