Package Browser

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Overview

Pacckagebrowser-082.png


Package Browser is a user-friendly application that can be used to search for and view information about software packages. This includes those already installed on the system, in addition to those available for installation from both the official Manjaro software repositories, and unofficially from the Arch User Repository. Although Package Browser cannot itself be used to actually download any software, it does serve many userful purposes, such as identifying:

  • What is available for download and installation
  • Dependencies and Orphans (e.g. software packages that are necessary or no longer needed, respectively)
  • Package Groups (e.g. 'kde' is not a single package, but a group of packages that make up the KDE desktop), and

Where using a version of Manjaro other than 0.8.3, Package Browser can be installed with Pamac, or by entering the following command in the terminal:

sudo pacman -S pkgbrowser


Filtering Browsing or Results

Tip: Simply select a filter without specifying anything to search for in order to browse all of the appropriate files. For example, to view all orphaned packages on your system, expand the All filter and then select Orphans. By default the Orphan filter will only show orphans installed on your system. In addition, to view all installed software not obtained from the official repositories, expand the Foreign filter and then select Installed.


Filters are useful tools that allow for search results to be narrowed down according to personal preference. For example, it is possible to either browse or search through all of the repositories for a software application, or to specify a single repository in particular. In addition, the search results themselves may be filtered still further by:

  • Installed: Show only software packages that have been installed
  • Non-Installed: Show only software packages that have not been installed
  • Orphans: Show only orphaned software packages
  • Updates: Show only available updates (and downgrades)
  • Groups: Show only package groups


It is also worthwhile noting that searches may also be filtered by their categories (e.g. games, desktop environment, system, and so forth). Again, a filter selected on its own (i.e. without specifying a particular software package to search for) will show all appropriate software packages. Again, this is useful to identify orphaned packages, for example. Otherwise, a filter may be selected prior to starting a search in order to narrow down the results.

note: The Scope option can also be used to narrow down searches (see below).


Searching for Packages or Groups

Package Browser does not restrict searches to just using a full or partial software package name. As outlined in the Method section below, many other types of searches - direct and indirect - can be used for different types of results. Searches themselves are undertaken by typing in the relevant search criteria into the search box located directly below the filter window, and then either pressing <enter> or clicking on the magnifying glass icon.

However, prior to undertaking a search, it is worthwhile reviewing the available options that may be used with it.


Search Method

Several different search methods are provided, selectable under the Method heading:


  • Plain Match: This is a strict method of searching, where a search term must be matched exactly. For example, entering a partial package name may not yield any results, so the full and exact name must be used. Where searching for something using more than one word (e.g. using a description of a package), then the sentence must also be contained in quotation marks (' ').


  • Wildcard Search: This is a broad method of searching, where partial matches will be returned by default. For example, entering kde in a wildcard search will yield all kde-related packages. Wildcards may also be used, specifically ? to stand in for any single character, and * to stand in for two or more characters in a word. The Wildcard Search is perhaps the best search method to use for most users.


  • Regular Expression: This is a special search method appropriate for more experienced users. Searching is undertaken using the same syntax as used for the Python programming language. Searches can match anywhere within a key - unless anchored to the beginning or end of the key by using the special characters "^" or "$".


  • Case Sensitive: This is actually an additional option rather than a search method in itself. If this is checked, then the searches will become case sensitive, meaning the use of upper and lower-case letters will be important.


Keys

Again, although it is likely that searches will be undertaken by using the names of software packages, a number of additional options are available as well, though selecting the appropriate check-box(es) underneath the Keys heading. One or a particular combination of keys may be used for a search. Each key may be used to search and deliver results against:

  • Names: The name
  • Descriptions: The description
  • Dependencies: The listed dependencies
  • Maintainer: The listed maintainer (e.g. type in Phil via a Wildcard Search to retrieve a list of packages maintained by Manjaro's own Philip Muller)
  • Provides: What a package is listed to provide
  • Replaces: What a package is listed to replace
  • Optional: Where a package is listed as an optional addition to something else, and
  • Files: Search only for a file, rather than package (collection of files).


Tip: For most users, ensuring the Names and descriptions are highlighted should be more than sufficient, especially when combined with a Wildcard Search.


Scope

Changing (or narrowing) the scope of a search to narrow down the results of a search is similar to using a filter. Individual search scopes are available under the Scope heading. They are:

  • All: Do not narrow down the scope of a search
  • Installed: Apply searches and results only for software packages that have been installed
  • Non-Installed: Apply searches and results only for software packages that have not been installed
  • Packages: Exclude files and groups
  • Groups: Apply searches and results only for package groups (e.g. XFCE and KDE desktop environments, etc)
  • Include AUR: Apply searches and results to include packages available from the Arch User Repository
  • Current List: Apply searchs and results to an existing search result to narrow it down further


Gaining Further Information

Once a search has been undertaken and the results delivered, it is possible to obtained a substantial array of information about packages and package groups by clicking on them. In the Package Window where the results are listed, this will include the package or group:

  • Name
  • Version
  • Repository where available
  • Status (e.g. whether installed, a dependency, or an orphan)
  • Date and time of installation, and
  • Size


Tip: It is worthwhile noting that a package will be indicated by a green icon, while a package group will be indicated by a blue icon. A package group can be expanded to provide a list of all the packages contained within it, and then each package can be selected to find out further information about it.


Far more detailed information can also be obtained below, by using the Information Panel. This contains several tabs, which will provide:

  • Details Tab: A comprehensive overview of a package
  • Files Tab: A list of all the files that make up a package
  • Tree Tab: An illustration of how a package's files all fit together
  • Log Tab: Any information that the author has considered necessary
  • Cache Tab: Information about how the package is stored in the system cache.


Keyboard Shortcuts

Tip: If using Compiz and Emerald ensure that there are not any conflicts between the keyboard shortcuts to use them both (i.e. the same command is used in both instances.


F1 - View the application manual.

F9 - Move focus to the filters panel.

F10 - Move focus to the packages panel.

F11 - Move focus to the information panel.

F12 - Move focus to the search box.

F3 - Start or stop the current search.

Ctrl+O - Open the file search dialog.

Alt+Left - Go back in the information history.

Alt+Right - Go forward in the information history.

Ctrl+B - Bookmark the current package.

F7 - Show the bookmarks menu.

Ctrl+S - Show the statistics dialog.

Ctrl+L - Copy the package list.

F5 - Refresh after system changes.

Ctrl+W - Cancel the current task.

Ctrl+Q - Quit the application.