[Aptitude-devel] Bug#532083: aptitude: please document search patterns in man page or help output

Manuel A. Fernandez Montecelo manuel.montezelo at gmail.com
Sat Aug 29 00:20:25 UTC 2015

Control: tags -1 + moreinfo

Hi Ansgar,

2009-06-06 10:26 Ansgar Burchardt:
>Package: aptitude
>Severity: wishlist
>please document search patterns briefly in the man page and/or the
>output from "aptitude help", maybe something similar to the "Quick guide
>to search terms" from the user's manual.
>The only place where this is documented now seems to be the user manual
>in aptitude-doc-en.  It would be very nice to have the information
>available without installing a seperate package and having to navigate
>through several HTML pages.

I don't know if when you reported this the option was available, but now
one can access the manual in text form, from the Help menu, User Manual,
then search for "search patterns" or "search term reference" after that,
with complete tables and all (it is converted automatically from HTML to
plain text).

Somewhat related, I just commited (not yet uploaded to the archive) a
change to add the 'l' shorcut to the Quick Help, and improved the
description of '/' (search) to point out that the documentation is
accessible within aptitude itself and to make more clear the existence
of the search patterns.

-  "/":          Perform a search.  (on the name of the package by default;
-                see the README/User's Manual for more information).
+  "/":          Perform a search.  By default, the string is used to match the
+                name of packages, but patterns can be used and combined for more
+                complex searches (installed, section, maintainer...).  For more
+                information, see the man page and the User's Manual section
+                "Search patterns" (under Help menu or in the doc packages).
   "\":          Perform a backwards search.
   "n":          Repeat the last search.
   "N":          Repeat the last search, but in the opposite direction.
+  "l":          Limit display, filter the current package list to show only
+                packages which match a search pattern (see above).

I realise that a more comprehensive documentation on the search terms,
specially in the man page, can be very helpful.  However, adding it to
multiple places complicates the issue of keeping it up-to-date (terms
are added from time to time), then keeping all copies in sync,
translating it and so on.  Perhaps the User Manual and man page can
share basic info or some tables, since they are both written in docbook,
but I am not an expert and I don't know if it's possible right away and
how easy.

Anyway, what do you think of the solution above?  I am not sure if we
should keep the bug open or if the current alternative is good enough.

Manuel A. Fernandez Montecelo <manuel.montezelo at gmail.com>

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