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What do each of the details in dpkg -l mean?

I have never paid attention to the output produced by the command dpkg -l and noticed it includes descriptors which I can't seem to locate detailed information for in the man pages nor online. The only resource I have come across is http://linux.derkeiler.com/Mailing-Lists/Ubuntu/2006-06/msg02943.html

So when I run the command dpkg -l it produces the following output (excerpt)

rc  vorbis-tools   1.4.0-1ubuntu1 several Ogg Vorbis tools
ii  w32codecs      1:20110131-0.1 win32 binary codecs
ii  wamerican      6-3            American English dictionary words for /usr/s
ii  wbritish       6-3            British English dictionary words for /usr/sh

I know that ii refers to installed but what does rc refer to and what does it mean? What other descriptors are there and what do they mean?

marked as duplicate by Daniel Andersson, Simon Sheehan, Hello71, Paul, slhck Jul 18 '12 at 0:39

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 6
    Take a look at: askubuntu.com/a/18807/30881. rc means package is removed, but it's configuration files are still present. – aland May 23 '12 at 18:09
  • @aland - Awesome. If you answer the question, I'll select your answer. – PeanutsMonkey May 23 '12 at 18:53
  • @Daniel Andersson - They are 2 specific questions. This question is specific to the entire list of packages returned whilst the previous question was specific to a particular package. – PeanutsMonkey May 25 '12 at 0:35
  • What? No, they are exactly the same. Read the header of your dpkg -l command and it is explained in the way I describe in the duplicate question. – Daniel Andersson May 25 '12 at 6:34

Take a look at: https://askubuntu.com/a/18807/30881

Briefly: the first letter means the desired state (r -- removed); the second -- current (c -- only config-files are present), so the package with rc flags is not currently installed, but probably was earlier, and its configuration files are present.

  • I would add that dpkg briefly explains the values in these columns in the header it outputs before the package table itself. It's not terribly clear but understandable once one knows what it should mean ;-) – kostix May 24 '12 at 0:42

The dpkg -l command is basically summarizing the file /var/lib/dpkg/status. If you go look at that file you will see that it contains all the package control files, and a Status: line for each package.

The first column is an abbreviation of the Status: lines, ii means the package supposed to be installed, and is installed. Basically it tells you both the current state, and the state dpkg should be changing the package too.

The third, and fourth columns come directly from the package control file. The version, is the Version: value in the control file. The describe, is the first line of the Description:. Longer descriptions may be truncated depending on your terminal width.

# apt-cache show wamerican 
Package: wamerican
Version: 6-3
Description: American English dictionary words for /usr/share/dict
 ... yadda, yadda, ...
  • Thanks Zoredache. aland's answer was what I was looking for exactly and it's very helpful to know the residence of the file you mentioned. – PeanutsMonkey May 23 '12 at 18:55

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