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Debian Package of the Day

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the even-got-an-RSS-feed dept.

Debian 58

flok writes "The Debian project has started a new webpage: the 'Debian package of the day.' It does what it says — every day another package from the Debian repository is posted with an elaborate description and some nice screenshots. As Debian (and all the other distributions as well) contains way too many packages for it to be feasible to inspect all of them yourself, this is then a nice way of learning about all kinds interesting software packages."

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OMG (-1, Troll)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308354)

Todays package: bug-buddy. screenshot of bugbuddy: bug-buddy is the GNOME Desktop Environment's bug reporting tool. All bugs are immediately emailed to /dev/null apparently.

Re:OMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308386)

All bugs are immediately emailed to /dev/null apparently.

How about keeping your trolls on your own?

Re:OMG (5, Informative)

RAID10 (1051554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308506)

Bug reports are actually sent to []
ATM there's only 72 rc-bugs to be squashed before Etch will be ready (Debian-installer rc2 will be out soon too). Soon enough the most stable Linux distribution ever is released. Thanks to all debian developers around the world.

Not really official (4, Informative)

duncf (628065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308360)

Just to make things clear, this isn't an official Debian project webpage. The subdomains are available to Debian Developers to do their own thing, and occasionally sites will migrate from to, if they get accepted by the community as "official". Debian Planet [] started out this way, at least.

I'd better prefer package comparations (4, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308372)

My "problem" with debian packages is not to find them (apt-cache makes quite a good job on it) but comparing "competing" packages, and I don't know about any resource on Debian on this.

Just an example: I don't mind about an explanation on how good apt-cacher is (a Debian package to cache access to Debian repositories), but it would be much better a side-to-side comparation among apt-cacher, apt-proxy and squid on repository-caching functions so I can use it to make my opinion for my environment.

Re:I'd better prefer package comparations (3, Insightful)

stevey (64018) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308460)

The problem here is two-fold:

  • You need somebody to write the comparisons. Somebody either unbiased, or capable of overlooking that.
  • You need somewhere to host the writeup(s).

The bigger problem is that very few people write documentation, and yet so many people seem to want it. I started some here [] , and have been lucky enough to get a reasonable number of submissions from external people. But the fact remains if you wait for people to volunteer to write documentation .. well you'll be a long time waiting.

Re:I'd better prefer package comparations (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308590)

"The problem here is two-fold:
You need somebody to write the comparisons. Somebody either unbiased, or capable of overlooking that.
You need somewhere to host the writeup(s)."

Well, I think there's already somebody (or, it's suppoused to be somebody at least) writing the "one package a day" articles. My point was not so much about somebody stepping front (they're going to do it on their spare time, so I wouldn't dare to say they *must* do this or that), but about what I would find a better way to get most benefit from the effort, once somebody has taken the decision about doing it.

Re:I'd better prefer package comparations (1)

stevey (64018) | more than 7 years ago | (#18310378)

Ahh I misunderstood - for some reason I was thinking of "", or similar, linked into package descriptions..

Good idea :)

package comparations - with debtags (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308932)

Use debtags for that, e.g. you have vim:
$ apt-cache show vim | grep '^Tag:'
Tag: devel::editor, interface::text-mode, role::program, scope::application, uitoolkit::ncurses, use::editing, works-with::text

then you can search for packages with similar tags
$ debtags search '(works-with::text && use::editing && interface::text-mode)'

and, whoa, you get quite a lot of stuff, and the first entry, abiword-plugins, seems to be mistagged too :) - But the concept seems sound. IIRC debian also allows wiki-like editing of the tag-db somewhere.


P.S.: Yes, emacs is among the results:
emacs21 - The GNU Emacs editor
emacs21-nox - The GNU Emacs editor (without X support)
qemacs - Small emacs clone editor with HTML and DocBook editing support
xemacs21-bin - highly customizable text editor -- support binaries
zile - very small emacs-like editor

Re:I'd better prefer package comparations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18309008)

Try "comparisons" for a change. That might help.

the closest thing is popcon (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18309050)

I agree that different packages that do roughly the same thing are sometimes hard to compare without installing all of them to try out (and who really wants to do that?). What I tend to do is check their buglist [] , and if I'm still curious, there's a beast of a list ranking how "popular" each package is [] . You can get a gist for how many other people installed and have used certain packages (or files in them). Of course that doesn't have to correlate with quality, but quality is usually a subjective measure based on one's own needs.

Try PopCon (4, Informative)

moyix (412254) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309166)

Give the Debian Popularity Contest a shot. It's an opt-in thing that reports what packages you have installed back up to a central server, which then produces stats on the popularity of packages. This won't necessarily tell you what package is *better*, but it will tell you which one is more widely used (and hence probably more supported). []

You are the only man for the job. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309218)

My "problem" with debian packages is not to find them (apt-cache makes quite a good job on it) but comparing "competing" packages, and I don't know about any resource on Debian on this.

Ultimately, you are the only person who can judge which application is right for you. Others may and do write their opinion about various packages but those are no substitute for your own experience. Googling narrows things down, but you the best resources are really your peers who are doing the same things or your own trials.

Take graphing, for example. There are dozens if not hundreds of ways to make graphs of your data and each one has it's niche. gnuplot is easy to script, so you can make hundreds of graphs with little effort. grace can do the same, and has a nice xmgrace interface if you want. Spreadsheets are good for small sets of data you want to manipulate a little. Kalgebra is coming and kmplot works already for ordinary math. kst is specialized for power functions. fityk is specialized for xray spectrums and peak finding and it has it's own scripting language. The list goes on and and on in an overwhelming embarrassment of riches.

The old adage, "When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail," still applies but now you have a bewildering choice of hammers and every other imaginable tool. The Debian repositories are amazing that way. When you want a hammer, you get a choice of slightly different hammers to chose from. Any will do the job, but an experienced user will know which is just right for their work. The nice thing is that it only cost you a little time to find out.

compatibility (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315095)

Agreed. If debian could tell me which is the best (ie, most compatible and most featureful) combination of packages for "web serving, python, smtp, imap, and bandwidth accounting", say, then it really would be the perfect OS. For the moment, it's just the best :)

Re:I'd better prefer package comparations (1)

Respect_my_Authority (967217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18315731)

Maybe Linux App Finder is what you're looking for? It allows users to rate applications. []

Re:I'd better prefer package comparations (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323045)

"Maybe Linux App Finder is what you're looking for?"

No, it isn't. It is an interesting place on its own, but doesn't hit the bulleye. I was talking explicitly about Debian. While one part of a comparasion could be the one that App Finder offers, there are other elements like "beware this package because it's orphaned" or "this is two main versions behind upstream while this other is only one" or (these are real cases) "kmail works awfully on Debian on disconnected IMAP" or "while documentation implies so, you can't reliabily use Trac with mod-python": all those are Debian-specific and while some of this info can be obtained from debian sites, there're no face-to-face comparations and the info that there exists is quite dispersed and not always easy (or fast) to be found.

Slasdotted ? (1)

d3m0nCr4t (869332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308382)

The "Debian package of the day" seems to be the "Slashdotted of the day"!

Re:Slasdotted ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308864)

It has been unslashdotted now.

Re:Slasdotted ? (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18310826)

Yeah, it's back. Unfortunately, it's RSIBreak today. I was hoping for something useful.

Re:Slasdotted ? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18312056)

Hmm - the website calls it a utility to help prevent RSI.

I like portage's description of it better:
A small utility which bothers you at certain intervals

or... (4, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308398)

You could bookmark the debian package-of-the-day page, or you could bookmark this freshmeat page, which takes you to a random project [] . If you use other OSes in addition to Linux, the freshmeat one might be more useful. Freshmeat also has ratings, user comments, etc.

POD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308406)


3..2...1... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308420)

Cue "my package is bigger than yours" jokes.

okay.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308538)

i have bigger titties than your mommy!

Re:okay.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18310302)

You should drink less beer.

Oops! (1)

coastin (780654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308510)

Loading... Loading... Loading...

Re:Oops! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308868)

not any more.

top o' the day (4, Interesting)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308544)

Bored? Looking to kill five minutes? Nothing new on the newsfeeds? Start here...:

$ ls -l /usr/bin/a*
I bet you don't know what half of those do. Go hit the man pages (or google up docs on anything your system for which you don't have the manual.) Rinse & repeat for b,c,.. I've been doing this for years & still find plenty of new stuff.

Re:top o' the day (4, Funny)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308608)

This must be why so few people know about the xargs command...

Re:top o' the day (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308850)

Much easier to do:

$ a [tab][tab]

Re:top o' the day (1)

lanc (762334) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309588)

if /usr/bin is in your PATH.

Re:top o' the day (1)

dotgain (630123) | more than 7 years ago | (#18311356)

if /usr/bin is in your PATH.
Heaven forbid!

Re:top o' the day (1)

nih (411096) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308940)

well, you gotta have goals

Re:top o' the day (3, Informative)

lakeland (218447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309236)

Okay, I'll give this a go... (Disclamer: I did this to learn unix a bit over a decade ago, so some stuff I'll have simply remembered).

a2p: Awk to perl. Converts an awk script to a perl script that does the same. Creates a poor script really.
a2ps used to be ascii2postscript, now anything to postscript. Generic converter.
aclocal Part of autoconf, handles checking where things are on the local machine (.pkginfo IIRC)
aclocal-1.9 Ditto for 1.9 (the latest version)
aconnect Dunno
acpi_fakekey Not sure :(
acpi_listen Monitor for ACPI events (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface, which I know far too much due to owning a crap MB)
acpitool Send ACPI commands, query ACPI state
acroread Yeah, I still have acrobat - kpdf doesn't have rotate yet
activation-client Dunno
adddebug Dunno
addftinfo Dunno
addr2line Dunno
adept Nice gui for apt.
adept_batch Backend adept uses to do the commands
adept_installer Backend adept uses to install packages, has a gui
adept_notifier The little widget that goes on your kicker
adept_updater Runs aptitude update
afmdiff.awk Adobe Fount Manager no doubt, but dunno
afmtodit Used by TeX somewhere, font conversion no doubt
akode-config Replacement for ARTS I think
akodeplay See above, does the playing
akregator Really Simple Syndication for KDE
alistat Dunno
alsamixer Does both HW and SW mixing, can be compiled to have a GUI but normally curses
amarok Great music interface
amarokapp The actual binary (don't run gdb against amark, use amarkapp instead...)
amarok_daapserver.rb provides data for itunes clients
amarok_proxy.rb Dunno, though the name gives a strong hint...
amidi From the alsa toolsuite, never needed to use it but no doubt is alsa's interface to MIDI devices
amixer See above, I prefer alsamixer
amor An Amusing Misuse Of Resources. Hadn't realised this was still installed. Puts a silly smiley on windows
animate Dunno
annotate-output Dunno
ant Apache/Jakata. Build system. Supposed to be quite good
anytopnm Convert any image to pnm, uses imagemagick
aplay Alsa player
aplaymidi See above, for .mid
apm Old version of ACPI, this command much like acpitool
apm_available As above, check features MB supports.
apmount Not sure
apmsleep can be sent using apm, but some people might forget the difference between S1 and S3 I suppose
apogee_ppi Dunno
appletproxy Dunno, probably java
appletviewer Ancient java program, not used much since doesn't get used for apps any more.
appres Not sure
apr-config Apache Portable Runtime?
apropos One of the misunderstood and misprounced english words. In this context, much like in LISP, it searches help by keword.
apt A Packaging Tool.
apt-cache Caches dpkgs and Package.gz
apt-cdrom APT method for reading off CDroms (as opposed to normal people, who read off HTTP)
apt-config Query apt from a script for how it is installed
apt-extracttemplates One of apt's internal tools, puls out the 'what this package does'
apt-ftparchive Not sure, probably for reading ftp:// [ftp]
apt-get Get the stuff
aptitude Nice replacement for APT
apt-key GPG key management for APT.
apt-sortpkgs Internal apt tool, I've only seen it used to present lists in alphabetical order but I'm sure it has more features.
apu-config Dunno, sounds familiar.
ar Arrrrr, tar hasn't taken over the world yet... We still have ranlib!
archpath Dunno
arecord alsa recording features
arecordmidi See above
ark KDE archiver. Uses tar rather than ar (I think).
arm2hpdl Dunno
arping Address resolution protocol, look up a host and check it is online/available
artsbuilder clearly ARTS related, but I can't remember exactly what this one does.
artscat See above
artsc-config For checking arts' install state from a script
artscontrol Mute, vol, etc.
artsd The main Adaptive Real Time Synthesiser Daemon
artsdsp Sound output for arts
artsmessage Not sure.
artsplay Play a file, using ARTS. Mainly used to check setups are working.
artsrec See above.
artsshell Dunno.
artswrapper Cute wrapper that takes a non arts prgram and helps it play nicely with arts.
as Seems they didn't like the name gas.
asciitopgm Obvious
aseqdump Dunno
aseqnet Dunno
asoundconf Obvious
aspell Best spelling program for linux, woefully underused. Currently looking for a (co)maintaiener.
aspell-import Read in a large list for adding to dict.
at When would you like that to run?
atktopbm Dunno, never heard of a atk file format.
atlantikdesigner Stupid game, stupid designer :)
atobm From the name, convert anything to a bitmap. But I don't know it.
atq Check when you're gonna do things.
atrm Don't do something you had scheduled
audiofile-config Don't know audiofile.
autoconf Be said if I didn't know this., etc.
autoheader Part of autoconf. Not sure what it does aexactly.
autom4te cutely named script. m4 is a godawful language invented by sendmail. This is part of the autoconf script and runs things using m4.
automake see automake and discussion.
automake-1.9 As above.
autopoint Don't know
autoreconf Havne't used it, presumably for running ./configure again?
autoscan Don't know it
autoupdate Don't know it
awk What people used before perl was invented. Surprisingly handy still, a little easier than perl. Sucks for longer programs (use perl).

So, roughly twice as many that I knew than didn't know... Not sure how it helps me though, maybe with my l33t meter, but really, isn't apropos all you need to know?

Re:top o' the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18310138)

I always thought of ar as "that command you use to build libraries", but yeah, I guess it could be used more generically like tar is. Huh.

Re:top o' the day (1)

DoktorSeven (628331) | more than 7 years ago | (#18310324)

for i in /usr/bin/a*; do whatis `basename "$i"`; done

Re:top o' the day (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18310634)

Thank god. It would've taken me forever to get to `whatis.'

Re:top o' the day (2, Informative)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18310890)

...and if that returns a lot of "nothing appropriates", you may need to run /usr/sbin/makewhatis . As I just found by reading the whatis manpage.

I know what this is.... (1)

Caspian (99221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308548)

This is an attempt to make the most boring distro on earth slightly less boring! ;)

(I kid, I kid! I like Debian.)

Screenshots for all packages? ;-) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308560)

I mean, how would one make a screenshot from the commandline program "screen" ? Its an invaluable tool, tucked away in its own package, and the only way to know that you're using it is using the magical ^AW keycombination. I'd like to seem them making a screenshot out of that :-)

Re:Screenshots for all packages? ;-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308650)

how would one make a screenshot from the commandline program "screen" ?
Bah, how difficult would that be? No if you want a real challenge, try to make a screenshot of something like gmp.

Re:Screenshots for all packages? ;-) (2, Informative)

the_brobdingnagian (917699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309054)

This is what I get when I type screen in my terminal: Screen version 4.00.02 (FAU) 5-Dec-03 Copyright (c) 1993-2002 Juergen Weigert, Michael Schroeder Copyright (c) 1987 Oliver Laumann This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option) any later version. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program (see the file COPYING); if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA. Send bugreports, fixes, enhancements, t-shirts, money, beer & pizza to [Press Space or Return to end.]

Re:Screenshots for all packages? ;-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18311912)

A screenshot of the pstree with screen running would be informative if not entertaining.

Just a thought... (2, Interesting)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308606)

This may go a long way to help people finding those little applications (or large applications :) ) that you don't know exist and don't know you need until you stumble across them. You know, the ones you find out about from someone in IRC or on a random blog or forum, usually out of context and often without knowing how the application name is spelled or what package would provide it... yakuake anyone? - or am I just slow on the uptake...).

Now if someone where to be really clever then they would integrate this site into a nice gui package manager and make it available with Ubuntu, or any of the other distro's aimed at new Linux users. It would be nice to get some additional info (screen shots etc..) above and beyond the descriptions that are normally availale when using apt. -- if its already been done then excuse me for not having come across it yet.

Re:Just a thought... (2, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308656)

And for something like this to really have a different package every day then in one years time it will have covered 365-1/4 (adverge over four years) packages.

Certainly the pages are not just going to vanish. Perhaps the side effect is to create a wiki of debian packages.

I hope this isn't totally random (3, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308654)

Otherwise you'll be getting something like:


ORBit is a lightweight CORBA ORB designed for use with the Gnome project. (Nothing about it requires Gnome, though.)
This package contains the headers and static libraries used for developing ORBit-based applications. It also contains the IDL compiler needed to import object definitions into your C programs.

Whoa, sexy!

Re:I hope this isn't totally random (2, Funny)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309010)

What about the screenshots? We need the screenshots. Otherwise, how will we know whether we want to use it or not?

Re:I hope this isn't totally random (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18309434)

You should get points for being funny. (humorous funny, not strange funny)

Cool and all, but NOT new or news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308804)

It's a cool site and all that, ... but it is NOT new or news.*/http://debaday.debian .net/ []

idea for enhancement (3, Interesting)

fragbait (209346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18308828)

Along with the package of the day, put a "similar packages" list of links.


Not quite new (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18308968)

May this "new" project be a reincarnation of this site: [] ? [I've stumbled across this when i wanted to add the feed and wondered that my liferea examples already contained a "Debian Package a Day" feed :)]

If it is, the question will be: Why did it die back in 2004 (the last article is dated Nov. 15, 2004)? I guess it suffered from not enough people actually adding reviews of packages. As this article help-now/ [] suggest, the new (old?) maintainers are still worried about this problem.

Let's see how long it'll be alive this time.

My Recommendation for Today (2, Informative)

wuputah (1068216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309042)

My recommendation for today is tzdata [] - I upgraded/installed this on several servers today to address the DST issue. Apparently it used to be part of the libc package in sarge, so you might look at updating that instead if you're a die-hard sarge user.

Another, analogous effort (2, Interesting)

hbar (7950) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309490)

Disclamer: I made the following, so this post is technically self-promotion.

(Another Unofficial) Debian Package of The Day (updated hourly) []

This verion ("POTH" - Package of the Hour) differs from the article feature ("DEBADAY"), in that it is fully automated (subject to some filters for interestingness; libraries, -dev packages, etc. are filtered out.) DEBADAY produces deeper and more interesting descriptions, since they are written by humans. POTH is done by a software agent, so it has greater breadth. It covers more packages, and also crosslinks them to popularity contest data, etc.

idea for distributions (1)

flok (24996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18309536)

What distributions should do is add a "software of the day" screen which automatically when you login show you, well, what this webpage does.
But then served from local disk or so.

gentoo-portage (1)

bubbl07 (777082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18310286)

Although I applaud their effort to showcase less prominent linux software, they could have worked off of an existing linux software database: [] . It doesn't have the "package-a-day" feature, but it does have short descriptions for each package and uses a wiki-style CMS in that it allows users to upload screenshots related to a given application. Also, the gentoo package repository is more diverse than that of debian's (owing to its package management system being source-based), so I'm sure most of the debian packages are already there.

Ultimately, I feel this serves its function well as a feature that sheds light on the more obscure, but not necessarily less useful, programs.

same problem w/ a godaddy site (1)

jmvbxx (1074458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18310570)

I've been having ongoing problems all day trying to access - which is hosted by I initially thought it was an my DNS server's problem ( but now that I read this I guess it's godaddy. Can this really be related to DLS? I live in Colombia now and we don't change our clock ever ;)

Quake terminal! (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18310704)

Yakuake, I think it's called, maybe the third one down.

This looks decidedly cool. All those people who are used to hitting tilde to get under the hood of their FPS and cheat, or just tweak stuff (admin_slap even)... Well, now they understand. Commandline is cheats for Linux!

ubuntu debian openoffice impress no go audio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18310740)

Using it now. Can not get Java player to work to use video or audio in Ubuntu.
No way to convert flv file to something else. No way to play .flv file. Otherwise,
works great but I have a presentation in 2 weeks and no audio or video in it. Putting
media player in seems pretty BASIC. :-)
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