debfoster(8) weed unnecessary Debian packages


[-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- ... ]


maintains a list of installed packages that were explicitly requested rather than installed as a dependency. Arguments are entirely optional, can be invoked per se after each run of dpkg and/or apt-get.

Alternatively you can use to install and remove packages by specifying the packages 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 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, will just take note and continue. If you decide that this package is not interesting enough it will be removed as soon as is done asking questions. If your choices cause other packages to become orphaned more questions will ensue.

Whenever asks you about a package, any of the following responses can be given:

Yes, keep the package. This is the default response.
No, delete the package.
Prune the package. This tells 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.
Skip this question. The next time you run it will ask you again about this package.
Print a help message.
So i Sc or So ? Sc Show information about the package.
Undo last response.
Exit without removing packages. All changes will be lost.
Save changes to database, remove unwanted packages, and exit without asking further questions.

Command line options

-v, -verbose
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 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 create 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 debfoster 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 `-u ' Cm 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 database to use.
-n, -no-keeperfile
Don't read the database and start with an empty list.
-i, -ignore-default-rules
This will instruct 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 database.
-s, -show-orphans
List all orphaned packages that are not mentioned in the database.
-d, -show-depends package
List all packages that this package depends on.
-e, -show-dependents package
List all packages in the database that depend on this package.
-p, -show-providers package
List all packages that provide the dependency target specified by package (e.g. Qo Nm -p x-terminal-emulator Qc ).
-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 can be configured in the configuration file, /etc/debfoster.conf Options are specified as
Option = Value
Option names are case insensitive.

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.
Default: apt-get --purge remove
Like InstallCmd but for removing packages.
Default: dpkg -s
Like InstallCmd but called with a single package as an argument to display information on.
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.
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.
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.
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 (taken from the debian-policy package):
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.
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.
Default: yes
A package that pre-depends on another package requires the latter during installation. This option will make 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.
Default: yes
Recommended packages would be installed together with the package that recommends them in all usual setups. This option will make count these recommendations as real dependencies. Enabling this option will enable you to better manage packages which were installed because another package recommended them.
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 count these suggestions as real dependencies. Using this option will result in even fewer questions being asked.
Default: no
Make tasks visible as packages. This will make tasks that are selectable using tasksel(1) appear as packages named task-<label>. will treat them as if they were normal packages. Tasks cannot be removed but marking a task for removal will stop asking questions about it.
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.
List the sections you are never interested in. For example, `libs' is a good candidate, as most libraries debfoster asks about are leftovers from old packages.
List name extensions for packages that you want to group with their base packages. Applications are often separated into multiple packages with names like Qo app Qc , Qo app-doc Qc , Qo app-dev Qc . If you don't want to answer questions about Qo app-doc Qc , you can add the Qo doc Qc extension to the GuessDepends list.
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.
Default: no
Using this option has the same result as having -v on the command line. It will make show which packages have disappeared or have become a dependency.
Default: no
This option has the same meaning as the -f command line option. All orphaned packages are scheduled for removal without asking any question.
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 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.