A typical .deb package relies on other packages to install and operate properly. With package managers such as apt-get and aptitude, you can resolve package dependencies, and have all prerequisites installed automatically.
Suppose for whatever reason, you want to manually resolve package dependencies of a particular package, in which case you need to identify all its dependent packages first.
In the following, I will explain how to check package dependencies on Ubuntu or Debian.
A command-line tool called apt-rdepends can help you in this case. This tool can recursively check dependencies of .deb package, and list all found package dependencies.
To install apt-rdepends on Ubuntu or Debian:
To show package dependency information of a particular package (e.g., tcpdump), run the command with package name:
Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done tcpdump Depends: libc6 (>= 2.14) Depends: libpcap0.8 (>= 1.2.1) Depends: libssl1.0.0 (>= 1.0.0) libc6 Depends: libc-bin (= 2.15-0ubuntu20) Depends: libgcc1 Depends: tzdata libc-bin libgcc1 Depends: gcc-4.7-base (= 4.7.2-2ubuntu1) Depends: libc6 (>= 2.14) PreDepends: multiarch-support . . . .
Visualization of Package Dependencies
The text output of apt-rdepends can be difficult to read due to many recursively defined dependency relationships. That is when visualization can help. apt-rdepends can export package dependency information into a dot file, which can be used by a GUI-based graph editor called dotty to visualize package dependencies in a graph format.
For visualization, first install dotty graph editor tool:
Finally, to visualize package dependencies with dotty:
$ dotty tcpdump.dot
The visualization result of tcpdump package looks like the following.
So far in this tutorial, we check package dependencies on Debian-based systems. If you want to know more about package dependencies on RPM-based systems such as Fedora or CentOS, please refer to this tutorial.
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