Posts Tagged ‘dpkg’

Reinstall all Debian packages with a copy of apt deb package list from another working Debian Linux installation

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020


Few days ago, in the hurry in the small hours of the night, I've done something extremely stupid. Wanting to move out a .tar.gz binary copy of qmail installation to /var/lib/qmail with all the dependent qmail items instead of extracting to admin user /root directory (/root), I've extracted it to the main Operating system root / directrory.
Not noticing this, I've quickly executed rm -rf var with the idea to delete all directory tree under /root/var just 3 seconds later, I've realized I'm issuing the rm -rf var with the wrong location WITH a root user !!!! Being scared on what I've done, I've quickly pressed CTRL+C to immedately cancel the deletion operation of my /var.


But as you can guess, since the machine has an Slid State Drive drive and SSD memory drive are much more faster in I/O operations than the classical ATA / SATA disks. I was not quick enough to cancel the operation and I've noticed already some part of my /var have been R.I.P-pped in the heaven of directories.

This was ofcourse upsetting so for a while I rethinked the situation to get some ideas on what I can do to recover my system ASAP!!! and I had the idea of course to try to reinstall All my installed .deb debian packages to restore system closest to the normal, before my stupid mistake.

Guess my unpleasent suprise when I have realized dpkg and respectively apt-get apt and aptitude package management tools cannot anymore handle packages as Debian Linux's package dependency database has been damaged due to missing dpkg directory 


Oh man that was unpleasent, especially since I've installed plenty of stuff that is custom on my Mate based desktop and, generally reinstalling it updating the sytem to the latest Debian security updates etc. will be time consuming and painful process I wanted to omit.

So of course the logical thing to do here was to try to somehow recover somehow a database copy of /var/lib/dpkg  if that was possible, that of course led me to the idea to lookup for a way to recover my /var/lib/dpkg from backup but since I did not maintained any backup copy of my OS anywhere that was not really possible, so anyways I wondered whether dpkg does not keep some kind of database backups somewhere in case if something goes wrong with its database.
This led me to this nice Ubuntu thred which has pointed me to the part of my root rm -rf dpkg db disaster recovery solution.
Luckily .deb package management creators has thought about situation similar to mine and to give the user a restore point for /var/lib/dpkg damaged database

/var/lib/dpkg is periodically backed up in /var/backups

A typical /var/lib/dpkg on Ubuntu and Debian Linux looks like so:

hipo@jeremiah:/var/backups$ ls -l /var/lib/dpkg
total 12572
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Jul 26 03:22 alternatives
-rw-r–r– 1 root root      11 Oct 14  2017 arch
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 2199402 Jul 25 20:04 available
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 2199402 Oct 19  2017 available-old
-rw-r–r– 1 root root       8 Sep  6  2012 cmethopt
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    1337 Jul 26 01:39 diversions
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    1223 Jul 26 01:39 diversions-old
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  679936 Jul 28 14:17 info
-rw-r—– 1 root root       0 Jul 28 14:17 lock
-rw-r—– 1 root root       0 Jul 26 03:00 lock-frontend
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Sep 17  2012 parts
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    1011 Jul 25 23:59 statoverride
-rw-r–r– 1 root root     965 Jul 25 23:59 statoverride-old
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 3873710 Jul 28 14:17 status
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 3873712 Jul 28 14:17 status-old
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Jul 26 03:22 triggers
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Jul 28 14:17 updates

Before proceeding with this radical stuff to move out /var/lib/dpkg/info from another machine to /var mistakenyl removed oned. I have tried to recover with the well known:

  • extundelete
  • foremost
  • recover
  • ext4magic
  • ext3grep
  • gddrescue
  • ddrescue
  • myrescue
  • testdisk
  • photorec

Linux file deletion recovery tools from a USB stick loaded with a Number of LiveCD distributions, i.e. tested recovery with:

  • Debian LiveCD
  • Ubuntu LiveCD
  • SystemRescueCD
  • Trinity Rescue Kit
  • Ultimate Boot CD

but unfortunately none of them couldn't recover the deleted files … 

The reason why the standard file recovery tools could not recover ?

My assumptions is after I've done by rm -rf var; from sysroot,  issued the sync (- if you haven't used it check out man sync) command – that synchronizes cached writes to persistent storage and did a restart from the poweroff PC button, this should have worked, as I've recovered like that in the past) in a normal Sys V System with a normal old fashioned blocks filesystem as EXT2 . or any other of the filesystems without a journal, however as the machine run a EXT4 filesystem with a journald and journald, this did not work perhaps because something was not updated properly in /lib/systemd/systemd-journal, that led to the situation all recently deleted files were totally unrecoverable.

1. First step was to restore the directory skele of /var/lib/dpkg

# mkdir -p /var/lib/dpkg/{alternatives,info,parts,triggers,updates}

2. Recover missing /var/lib/dpkg/status  file

The main file that gives information to dpkg of the existing packages and their statuses on a Debian based systems is /var/lib/dpkg/status

# cp /var/backups/dpkg.status.0 /var/lib/dpkg/status

3. Reinstall dpkg package manager to make package management working again

Say a warm prayer to the Merciful God ! and do:

# apt-get download dpkg
# dpkg -i dpkg*.deb

4. Reinstall base-files .deb package which provides basis of a Debian system

Hopefully everything will be okay and your dpkg / apt pair will be in normal working state, next step is to:

# apt-get download base-files
# dpkg -i base-files*.deb

5. Do a package sanity and consistency check and try to update OS package list

Check whether packages have been installed only partially on your system or that have missing, wrong or obsolete control  data  or  files.  dpkg  should suggest what to do with them to get them fixed.

# dpkg –audit

Then resynchronize (fetch) the package index files from their sources described in /etc/apt/sources.list

# apt-get update

Do apt db constistency check:

#  apt-get check

check is a diagnostic tool; it updates the package cache and checks for broken dependencies.

Take a deep breath ! …

Do :

ls -l /var/lib/dpkg
and compare with the above list. If some -old file is not present don't worry it will be there tomorrow.

Next time don't forget to do a regular backup with simple rsync backup script or something like Bacula / Amanda / Time Vault or Clonezilla.

6. Copy dpkg database from another Linux system that has a working dpkg / apt Database

Well this was however not the end of the story … There were still many things missing from my /var/ and luckily I had another Debian 10 Buster install on another properly working machine with a similar set of .deb packages installed. Therefore to make most of my programs still working again I have copied over /var from the other similar set of package installed machine to my messed up machine with the missing deleted /var.

To do so …
On Functioning Debian 10 Machine (Working Host in a local network with IP, I've archived content of /var:

linux:~# tar -czvf var_backup_debian10.tar.gz /var

Then sftped from Working Host towards the /var deleted broken one in my case this machine's hostname is jericho and luckily still had SSHD and SFTP running processes loaded in memory:

jericho:~# sftp root@
sftp> get var_backup_debian10.tar.gz

Now Before extracting the archive it is a good idea to make backup of old /var remains somewhere for example somewhere in /root 
just in case if we need to have a copy of the dpkg backup dir /var/backups

jericho:~# cp -rpfv /var /root/var_backup_damaged

jericho:~# tar -zxvf /root/var_backup_debian10.tar.gz 
jericho:/# mv /root/var/ /

Then to make my /var/lib/dpkg contain the list of packages from my my broken Linux install I have ovewritten /var/lib/dpkg with the files earlier backupped before  .tar.gz was extracted.

jericho:~# cp -rpfv /var /root/var_backup_damaged/lib/dpkg/ /var/lib/

7. Reinstall All Debian  Packages completely scripts

I then tried to reinstall each and every package first using aptitude with aptitude this is done with

# aptitude reinstall '~i'

However as this failed, tried using a simple shell loop like below:

for i in $(dpkg -l |awk '{ print $2 }'); do echo apt-get install –reinstall –yes $i; done

Alternatively, all .deb package reninstall is also possible with dpkg –get-selections and with awk with below cmds:

dpkg –get-selections | grep -v deinstall | awk '{print $1}' > list.log;
awk '$1=$1' ORS=' ' list.log > newlist.log
apt-get install –reinstall $(cat newlist.log)

It can also be run as one liner for simplicity:

dpkg –get-selections | grep -v deinstall | awk '{print $1}' > list.log; awk '$1=$1' ORS=' ' list.log > newlist.log; apt-get install –reinstall $(cat newlist.log)

This produced a lot of warning messages, reporting "package has no files currently installed" (virtually for all installed packages), indicating a severe packages problem below is sample output produced after each and every package reinstall … :

dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'iproute' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'brscan-skey' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libapache2-mod-php7.4' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libexpat1:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libexpat1:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'php5.6-readline' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'linux-headers-4.19.0-5-amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libgraphite2-3:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libgraphite2-3:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libbonoboui2-0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libxcb-dri3-0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libxcb-dri3-0:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'liblcms2-2:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'liblcms2-2:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libpixman-1-0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libpixman-1-0:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'gksu' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'liblogging-stdlog0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'mesa-vdpau-drivers:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'mesa-vdpau-drivers:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libzvbi0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libzvbi0:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libcdparanoia0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libcdparanoia0:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'python-gconf' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'php5.6-cli' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libpaper1:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package '' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed

After some attempts I found a way to be able to work around the warning message, for each package by simply reinstalling the package reporting the issue with

apt –reinstall $package_name

Though reinstallation started well and many packages got reinstalled, unfortunately some packages such as apache2-mod-php5.6 and other php related ones  started failing during reinstall ending up in unfixable states right after installation of binaries from packages was successfully placed in its expected locations on disk. The failures occured during the package setup stage ( dpkg –configure $packagename) …

The logical thing to do is a recovery attempt with something like the usual well known by any Debian admin:

apt-get install –fix-missing

As well as Manual requesting to reconfigure (issue re-setup) of all installed packages also did not produced a positive result

dpkg –configure -a

But many packages were still failing due to dpkg inability to execute some post installation scripts from respective .deb files.
To work around that and continue installing the rest of packages I had to manually delete all files related to the failing package located under directory 


For example to omit the post installation failure of libapache2-mod-php5.6 and have a succesful install of the package next time I tried reinstall, I had to delete all /var/lib/dpkg/info/libapache2-mod-php5.6.postrm, /var/lib/dpkg/info/libapache2-mod-php5.6.postinst scripts and even sometimes everything like libapache2-mod-php5.6* that were present in /var/lib/dpkg/info dir.

The problem with this solution, however was the package reporting to install properly, but the post install script hooks were still not in placed and important things as setting permissions of binaries after install or applying some configuration changes right after install was missing leading to programs failing to  fully behave properly or even breaking up even though showing as finely installed …

The final solution to this problem was radical.
I've used /var/lib/dpkg database (directory) from ther other working Linux machine with dpkg DB OK found in var_backup_debian10.tar.gz (linux:~# host with a working dpkg database) and then based on the dpkg package list correct database responding on jericho:~# to reinstall each and every package on the system using Debian System Reinstaller script taken from the internet.
Debian System Reinstaller works but to reinstall many packages, I've been prompted again and again whether to overwrite configuration or keep the present one of packages.
To Omit the annoying [Y / N ] text prompts I had made a slight modification to the script so it finally looked like this:

# Debian System Reinstaller
# Copyright (C) 2015 Albert Huang
# Copyright (C) 2018 Andreas Fendt

# 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 3 of the License, 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
# GNU General Public License for more details.

# You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
# along with this program.  If not, see <>.

# —
# This script assumes you are using a Debian based system
# (Debian, Mint, Ubuntu, #!), and have sudo installed. If you don't
# have sudo installed, replace "sudo" with "su -c" instead.

pkgs=`dpkg –get-selections | grep -w 'install$' | cut -f 1 |  egrep -v '(dpkg|apt)'`

for pkg in $pkgs; do
    echo -e "\033[1m   * Reinstalling:\033[0m $pkg"    

    apt-get –reinstall -o Dpkg::Options::="–force-confdef" -o Dpkg::Options::="–force-confold" -y install $pkg || {
        echo "ERROR: Reinstallation failed. See reinstall.log for details."
        exit 1
done working modified version of Albert Huang and Andreas Fendt script  can be also downloaded here.

Note ! Omitting the text confirmation prompts to install newest config or keep maintainer configuration is handled by the argument:

-o Dpkg::Options::="–force-confold

I however still got few NCurses Console selection prompts during the reinstall of about 3200+ .deb packages, so even with this mod the reinstall was not completely automatic.

Note !  During the reinstall few of the packages from the list failed due to being some old unsupported packages this was ejabberd, ircd-hybrid and a 2 / 3 more.
This failure was easily solved by completely purging those packages with the usual

# dpkg –purge $packagename

and reruninng on each of the failing packages.

Note ! The failing packages were just old ones left over from Debian 8 and Debian 9 before the apt-get dist-upgrade towards 10 Duster.
Eventually I got a success by God's grance, after few hours of pains and trials, ending up in a working state package database and a complete set of freshly reinstalled packages.

The only thing I had to do finally is 2 hours of tampering why GNOME did not automatically booted after the system reboot due to failing gdm
until I fixed that I've temprary used ligthdm (x-display-manager), to do I've

dpkg –reconfigure gdm3


 to work around this I had to also reinstall few libraries, reinstall the xorg-server, reinstall gdm and reinstall the meta package for GNOME, using below set of commands:

apt-get install –reinstall libglw1-mesa libglx-mesa0
apt-get install –reinstall libglu1-mesa-dev
apt install –reinstallgsettings-desktop-schemas
apt-get install –reinstall xserver-xorg-video-intel
apt-get install –reinstall xserver-xorg
apt-get install –reinstall xserver-xorg-core
apt-get install –reinstall task-desktop
apt-get install –reinstall task-gnome-desktop

As some packages did not ended re-instaled on system because on the original host from where /var/lib/dpkg db was copied did not have it I had to eventually manually trigger reinstall for those too:

apt-get install –reinstall –yes vlc
apt-get install –reinstall –yes thunderbird
apt-get install –reinstall –yes audacity
apt-get install –reinstall –yes gajim
apt-get install –reinstall –yes slack remmina
apt-get install –yes k3b
pt-get install –yes gbgoffice
pt-get install –reinstall –yes skypeforlinux
apt-get install –reinstall –yes vlc
apt-get install –reinstall –yes libcurl3-gnutls libcurl3-nss
apt-get install –yes virtualbox-5.2
apt-get install –reinstall –yes vlc
apt-get install –reinstall –yes alsa-tools-gui
apt-get install –reinstall –yes gftp
apt install ./teamviewer_15.3.2682_amd64.deb –yes

Note that some of above packages requires a properly configured third party repositories, other people might have other packages that are missing from the dpkg list and needs to be reinstalled so just decide according to your own case of left aside working system present binaries that doesn't belong to any dpkg installed package.

After a bit of struggle everything is back to normal Thanks God! 🙂 !

Upgrade Debian Linux 9 to 10 Stretch to Buster and Disable graphical service load boot on Debian 10 Linux / Debian Buster is out

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019


I've just took a time to upgrade my Debian 9 Stretch Linux to Debian Buster on my old school Laptop (that turned 11 years old) Lenovo Thinkpad R61 . The upgrade went more or less without severe issues except few things.

The overall procedure followed is described n a few websites out there already and comes up to;

0. Set the proper repository location in /etc/apt/sources.list

Before update the sources.list used are:

deb [arch=amd64,i386] buster main contrib non-free
deb-src [arch=amd64,i386] buster main contrib non-free

deb [arch=amd64,i386] buster/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src [arch=amd64,i386] buster/updates main contrib non-free

deb [arch=amd64,i386] buster-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src [arch=amd64,i386] buster-updates main contrib non-free

deb buster-backports main

For people that had stretch defined in /etc/apt/sources.list you should change them to buster or stable, easiest and quickest way to omit editting with vim / nano etc. is run as root or via sudo:

sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/*.list

The minimum of config in sources.list after the modification should be

deb buster main
deb buster-updates main
deb buster/updates main

Or if you want to always be with latest stable packages (which is my practice for notebooks):

deb stable main
deb stable-updates main
deb stable/updates main

1. Getting list of hold packages if such exist and unholding them, e.g.

apt-mark showhold

Same could also be done via dpkg

dpkg –get-selections | grep hold

To unhold a package if such is found:

echo "package_name install"|sudo dpkg –set-selections

For those who don't know what hold package is this is usually package you want to keep at certain version all the time even though after running apt-get upgrade to get the latest package versions.

2. Use df -h and assure you have at least 5 – 10 GB free space on root directory / before proceed

df -h /

3. Update packages list to set new set repos as default

apt update

4. apt upgrade

apt upgrade

Here some 10 – 15 times you have to confirm what you want to do with configuration that has changed if you're unsure about the config (and it is not critical service) you're aware as such as Apache / MySQL / SMTP etc. it is best to install the latest maintainer version.

Hopefully here you will not get fatal errors that will interrupt it.

P.S. It is best to run apt-update either in VTTY (Virtual console session) with screen or tmux or via a physical tty (if this is not a remote server) as during the updates your GUI access to the gnome-terminal or konsole / xterm whatever console used might get cut. Thus it is best to do it with command:

screen apt upgrade

5. Run dist-upgrade to finalize the upgrade from Stertch to Buster

Once all is completed of the new installed packages, you will need to finally do, once again it is best to run via screen, if you don't have installed screen install it:

if [ $(which screen) ]; then echo 'Installed'; else apt-get install –yes screen ; fi

screen apt dist-upgrade

Here once again you should set whether old configuration to some e services has to stay or the new Debian maintainer package shipped one will overwrite the old and locally modified (due to some reason), here do wisely whatever you will otherwise some configured services might not boot as expected on next boot.

6. What if you get packages failed on update

If you get a certain package failed to configure after installed due to some reason, if it is a systemd service use:


journalctl -xe |head -n 50

or fully observer output of journalctl -xe and decide on yourself.

In most cases

dpkg-reconfigure failed-package-name

should do the trick or at least give you more hints on how to solve it.

Also if a package seems to be in inconsistent or broken state after upgrade  and simple dpkg-reconfigure doesn't help, a good command
that can help you is


dpkg-reconfigure -f package_name


or you can try to workaround a failed package setup with:

dpkg –configure -a

If dpkg-reconfigure doesn't help either as I experienced in prior of Debian from Debian 6 -> 7 an Debian 7 ->8 updates on some Computers, then a very useful thing to try is:

apt-get update –fix-missing 

apt-get install -f

At certain cases the only work around to be able to complete the package upgrade is to to remove the package with apt remove but due to config errors even that is not possible to work around this as final resort run:

dpkg –remove –force-remove-reinstreq


7. Clean up ununeeded packages

Some packages are left over due to package dependencies from Stretch and not needed in buster anymore to remove them.

apt autoremove


8. Reboot system once all upgrade is over


9. Verify your just upgraded Debian is in a good state

root@noah:~# uname -a;
Linux noah 4.19.0-5-rt-amd64 #1 SMP PREEMPT RT Debian 4.19.37-5 (2019-06-19) x86_64 GNU/Linux


root@noah:~# cat /etc/
Debian GNU/Linux 10


root@noah:~# lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID:    Debian
Description:    Debian GNU/Linux 10 (buster)
Release:    10
Codename:    buster

root@noah:~# hostnamectl
   Static hostname: noah
         Icon name: computer-laptop
           Chassis: laptop
        Machine ID: 4759d9c2f20265938692146351a07929
           Boot ID: 256eb64ffa5e413b8f959f7ef43d919f
  Operating System: Debian GNU/Linux 10 (buster)
            Kernel: Linux 4.19.0-5-rt-amd64
      Architecture: x86-64

10. Remove annoying picture short animation with debian logo looping


By default Debian 10 boots up with annoying screen hiding all the status of loaded services state .e.g. you cannot see the services that shows in [ FAILED ] state and  which do show as [ OK ] to revert back the old behavior I'm used to for historical reasons and as it shows a lot of good Boot time debugging info, in previous Debian distributions this was possible  by setting the right configuration options in /etc/default/grub

which so far in my config was like so

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash scsi_mod.use_blk_mq=y dm_mod.use_blk_mq=y zswap.enabled=1 text"

Note that zswap.enabled=1 passed option is because my notebook is pretty old machine from 2008 with 4GB of memory and zswap does accelerate performance when working with swap – especially helpful on Older PCs for more you can read more about zswap on ArchLinux wiki
After modifying this configuration to load the new config into grub the cmd is:


As this was not working and tried number of reboots finally I found that annoying animated gif like picture shown up is caused by plymouth below is excerpts from Plymouth's manual page:

       "The plymouth sends commands to a running plymouthd. This is used during the boot process to control the display of the graphical boot splash."

Plymouth has a set of themes one can set:


# plymouth-set-default-theme -l


I tried to change that theme to make the boot process as text boot as I'm used to historically with cmd:

update-alternatives –config text.plymouth

As after reboot I hoped the PC will start booting in text but this does not happened so the final fix to turn back to textmode service boot was to completely remove plymouth

apt-get remove –yes plymouth

How to downgrade package with apt-get on Debian / Ubuntu / Mint Linux

Thursday, October 19th, 2017


How can I downgrade a debian package to an older version with apt-get?

Downgrading a package in Debian is not frequently required but sometimes it is a must lets say a package you just upgraded fails to communicate properly to an application, in my case that's Ejabberd server which was working pretty well with Yaxim, Bruno or Xabber Mobile android application clients, unfortunately right after periodic apt-get upgrades I do with apt due to security upgrade of deb package ejabberd=2.1.10-4+deb7u1 to ejabberd=2.1.10-4+deb7u2 it messed up and even though it worked fine with Desktop clients such as Gajim and Pidgin, there was no Android application on my Phone with Android 4.4 which was able to communicate properly with the TLS encrypted Jabber server so my only option was to downgrade back to ejabberd=2.1.10-4+deb7u1.

I looked through a short URL is ( but I couldn't find the old deb file to downgrade so I was in a situation …

 Then I duckduck goed (I've recently stopped using Google as Google is collecting too much data and sharing with NSA) and I found following instructions on downgrade


If you have the version number, or the target release, apt-get supports choosing a particular version or target release. More details can be found on manual page of apt-get. It can also be accessed from terminal by typing man apt-get

sudo apt-get install <package-name>=<package-version-number> OR

sudo apt-get -t=<target release> install <package-name>

is the command to be run. This can be used to down-grade a package to a specific version.

It has been helpfully pointed out in the comments that

    apt-cache showpkg <package-name> – lists all available versions. (h/t Sparhawk)
    apt-mark hold <package-name> "holds" – the package at the current version, preventing automatic upgrades. (h/t Luís de Sousa )

In other words All I had to do is as root superuser is:

apt-get install «pkg»=«version»


aptitude install «pkg»=«version»

Where «pkg» is the name of the package, and «version» is the version number.

So I just issued following cmd:

root@pcfreak:~# apt-get install ejabberd=2.1.10-4+deb7u1
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0 актуализирани, 1 нови инсталирани, 0 за премахване и 3 без промяна.
Необходимо е да се изтеглят 1795 kB архиви.
След тази операция ще бъде използвано 3699 kB допълнително дисково пространство.
Изт:1 wheezy/main ejabberd amd64 2.1.10-4+deb7u1 [1795 kB]

P.S. Sorry for the cyrillic for those who can't read it but it is standard messages that Debian does in package install time.

Analogously you can do it for any other newer package that upgraded, later on to prevent further security updates of the package you will have to put the package on hold, that's as easy as running:

root@pcfreak:~# aptitude hold ejabberd
No packages will be installed, upgraded, or removed.
0 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 4 not upgraded.
Need to get 0 B of archives. After unpacking 0 B will be used.

How to extract a deb package on Debian, Ubuntu, Mint Linux and other non debian based distributions

Friday, October 13th, 2017


How to extract a deb package? 

Have you ever had a debian .deb package which contains image files you need, but the dependencies doesn't allow you to install it on your Debian / Ubuntu / Mint Linux release?
I had just recently downloaded the ultimate-edition-themes latest release v 0.0.7 a large pack of GNOME Themes and wanted to install it on my Debian Stretch Linux but I faced problems because of dependencies when trying to install with dpkg.

That is why I took another appoarch and decided to only extract the necessery themes from the archive only with dpkg.

Here is how I have extracted ultimate-edition-themes-.0.0.7_all.deb ;

dpkg -x ultimate-edition-themes-.0.0.7_all.deb /tmp/ultimate-edition-themes


So how dpkg extracts the .deb file?

Debian .deb packages are a regular more in Wikipedia – Unix archive files (ar) .

The structure of a deb file consists of another 3 files (2 tar.gzs and one binary) as follows:

debian-binary: regular text file, contains the version of the deb package format
control.tar.gz: compressed file, contains file md5sums and control directory for the deb package
data.tar.gz: compressed file, contains all the files which will be installed

Basicly if you're on a Linux distribution that lacks dpkg you can easily extract .deb binary using GNU AR  command (used to create, modify extract Unix ar files and is the GNU / Linux equivallent of the UNIX ar command).

To extract on Fedora or RPM based Linux distributions as well as BSDs with AR:

First print file conetnt with:

ar p  ultimate-edition-themes-.0.0.7_all.deb

Then extract it with:

ar x ultimate-edition-themes-.0.0.7_all.deb

Later just extract with tar (untar), the 2 other archived files contained in the .deb (ar) archive:

tar -zxvvf control.tar.gz; tar -zxxvf data.tar.gz

Get everything you need from there in my case that's the usr/share/themes folder, then enjoy life 🙂

Removing exim and installing qmail / Generate and install pseudo mta dummy package on Debian / Ubuntu etc. .deb based Linux

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

If you happen to be installing Qmail Mail server on a Debian or Ubuntu (.deb) based Linux, you will notice by default there will be some kind of MTA (Mail Transport Agent) already installed mail-transfer-agent package will be installed and because of Debian .deb package depedency to have an MTA always installed on the system you will be unable to remove Exim MTA without installing some other MTA (Postix / Qmail) etc.

This will be a problem for those like me who prefer to compile and install Qmail from source, thus to get around this it is necessery to create a dummy package that will trick the deb packaging depencies that actually mta-local MTA package is present on the server.

The way to go here is to use equivs (Circumvent debian package dependencies):

debian:~# apt-cache show equivs|grep -i desc -A 10

Description: Circumvent Debian package dependencies
 This package provides a tool to create trivial Debian packages.
 Typically these packages contain only dependency information, but they
 can also include normal installed files like other packages do.
 One use for this is to create a metapackage: a package whose sole
 purpose is to declare dependencies and conflicts on other packages so
 that these will be automatically installed, upgraded, or removed.
 Another use is to circumvent dependency checking: by letting dpkg
 think a particular package name and version is installed when it

Btw creating a .deb dummy package will be necessery in many other cases when you have to install from some third party debian repositories or some old and alrady unmaintaned deb-src packages for the sake of making some archaic software to resurrect somewhere, so sooner or later even if you're not into Mail servers you will certainly need equivs.

Then install equivs and go on proceeding creating the dummy mail-transport-agent package

debian:~# cd /tmp debian:~# cp -rpf /usr/share/doc/equivs/examples/mail-transport-agent.ctl . debian:~# equivs-build mail-transport-agent.ctl

Above command will build and package /tmp/mta-local_1.0_all.deb dummy package.
So continue and install it with dpkg as you use to install debian packages

debian:~# dpkg -i /tmp/mta-local_1.0_all.deb

From then on you can continue your standard LWQ – Life with Qmail or any other source based qmail installation with:


So that's it now .deb packaging system consistency will be complete so standard security package updates with apt-get and aptitude updates or dpkg -i third party custom software insatlls will not be breaking up any more.

Hope that helped someone 🙂

How to install / update Wine windows emulator 1.4 on Debian Squeeze Linux

Monday, April 29th, 2013

wine linux ms windows emulator logo with microsoft windows
Debian Squeeze
Linux depending on RC release comes with a Version of WINE Windows emulator 0.9.8 or wine 1.0.1-3.1. This wine version is very out of date already and many of the new win software working well with newer wine releases doesn't work. We all know the down-side of Debian stable releases you always stay a bit outdated.

Thanksfully there is an easy way to upgrade to newer wine version and hence have more Windows software properly running on Squeeze. To do so you need to add custom following wine custom deb repository:

deb mepis85cr main


debian:~# echo 'deb mepis85cr main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list

Then update wine with apt-get:

debian:~# apt-get update
debian:~# apt-get --yes install wine ....
The following NEW packages will be installed:
fonts-droid ttf-droid ttf-umefont ttf-unfonts-core wine-gecko
The following packages will be upgraded: wine
1 upgraded, 5 newly installed, 10 to remove and 86 not upgraded.
Need to get 135 MB of archives.

debian:~# dpkg -l |grep -i wine

rc libwine 1.0.1-3.1 Windows API implementation – library
ii playonlinux 3.7.6-1 front-end for Wine
ii wine 1.4-1mcr8.5+1 Windows Compatibility Layer (Binary Emulator and Library)
rc wine-bin 1.0.1-3.1 Windows API implementation – binary loader
ii wine-gecko 1.4.0-1mcr85+2 Microsoft Windows
Compatibility Layer (Web Browser)

That's all enjoy 🙂

Install Microsoft .NET 2.0 & 3.0 (Dotnet) on WINE Windows Emulator on GNU / Linux

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Microsoft Windows Dotnet logo 3.5 linux Tux and wine-emulator logo

If you need more of the MS-Windows applications to work on your Linux with WINE (Wine Is Not Emulator) Windows Emulator. You will need to install Microsoft .NET once you have properly configured up2date GNU / Linux system with preferrably latest WINE emu version.

There is plenty of forum threads on how .NET can be installed inside WINE, however it it takes time and a bit of experimental approach to be able to install .NET. Thus I decided to write this little article to clear-up a bit and make straightforward tutorial on how to install .NET on Linux / *BSD system.

First as I said you have to had a properly installed and configured WINE. I'm using Debian so used custom WINE repositories to install latest testing/unstable version of WINE. As of time of writting this article my wine version is:

hipo@noah~:$ dpkg -l |grep -i 'wine'

ii  playonlinux                                            3.7.6-1                                   front-end for Wine
ii  wine                                                   1.4-1mcr8.5+1                             Windows Compatibility Layer (Binary Emulator and Library)

ii  wine-gecko                                             1.4.0-1mcr85+2                            Microsoft Windows Compatibility Layer (Web Browser)

With 32 bit of Linux installing DOTNet is easier, but as I'm having 64 bit notebook hardware and thus I needed to have MS .NET on my 64 bit Debian. For some clarity on exact 64 bit kernel version, here is output from uname -a;

hipo@noah:~$ uname -a;
Linux noah 2.6.32-5-amd64 #1 SMP Mon Feb 25 00:26:11 UTC 2013 x86_64 GNU/Linux

With all that said we need to further install winetricks. For those unfamiliar with winetricks, here is quote from there wiki;

winetricks is a helper script to download and install various redistributable runtime libraries needed to run some programs in Wine. These may include replacements for components of Wine using closed source libraries.

Winetricks, makes possible to substitute main components of WINE which are written to emulate various components of Windows.
Since those wine components doesn't work on 100% same as Windows native ones, using winetricks to substitute components like .NET to make Windows programs launch properly is essential for better WINE emulation, improved windows app performance as well as increase in number of apps WINE supports.

1. Install software required by Winetricks

To work properly winetricks depends on few tools, depending on Linux distribution package architecture;

On Debian, Ubuntu, ArchLinux, Mint etc. install them with apt;

noah:~# apt-get install --yes cabextract unzip p7zip wget zenity

On CentOS, Fedora, RHEL and rest of RPM based ones;

[root@fedora:~ ]#  yum -y install cabextract unzip p7zip wget zenity

cabextract is needed for winetricks to be able to extract Windows .cab  (Cabinet Files) archives

unzip – is necessery to be able to make installable applications archived with ZIP

wget – is used to download files from net

p7zip – provides 7z and 7za which support more compression formats

zenity – is used by winetricks to draw (Yes / No / Maybe etc.) dialogs using GTK1+ GNOME library

2. Install Winetricks shell script

As a script you just need to fetch it and save in /usr/local/bin or /usr/bin

noah:~# cd /usr/local/bin
noah:/usr/local/bin# wget
noah:/usr/local/bin# chmod +x winetricks

3. Install corefonts, vcrun6 and mfc40 through winetricks

In Debian Linux corefonts are installed via msttcorefonts package, however site prescribes installing with winetricks again so you can fetch it that way if you already haven't with apt. vcrun6 winetricks pack installs a bunch of essential Windows native .DLLs, mfc40 installs Windows native MFC40.DLL

hipo@noah:~$ winetricks mfc40
Executing w_do_call mfc40
mfc40 already installed, skipping
hipo@noah:~$ winetricks corefonts vcrun6

4. Install Microsoft .NET 2.0 via winetricks

First time I tried installing m$ dotnet 3.5 but since .NET 3.5 is upgrade to .NET 2.0 below command actually pointed me to install .NET 2.0 before proceeding;

hipo@noah:~/Desktop$ winetricks dotnet35

Executing w_do_call dotnet35
Executing load_dotnet35
dotnet35 does not yet fully work or install on wine.  Caveat emptor.
Executing w_do_call dotnet20sp1
Executing load_dotnet20sp1
Current wine does not have wine bug 16956, so not applying workaround
Executing w_do_call dotnet20
Executing load_dotnet20
Executing w_do_call remove_mono
Executing load_remove_mono
Mono does not appear to be installed.
Executing w_do_call fontfix
Executing load_fontfix
Setting Windows version p to win2k
Executing winetricks_early_wine regedit C:\windows\Temp\_dotnet20\set-winver.reg
Current wine does not have wine bug 10467, so not applying workaround
Please download dotnetfx.exe from, place it in /home/hipo/.cache/winetricks/dotnet20, then re-run this script.

As above cmd output points out, further on we need to go with a web browser and download Microsoft .NET Framework from URL (copy / paste it in browser and click Download button);
Then copy downloaded file dotnetfx.exe to user's home  dir – ~/.cache/winetricks/dotnet20. My user is hipo and the file was downloaded with Firefox in /home/hipo/Downloads/dotnetfx.exe so in my case to copy it  ~/.cache/winetricks/dotnet20 ;

noah:~$ cp -rpf ~/Downloads/dotnetfx.exe ~/.cache/winetricks/dotnet20/

Installing on 32 bit architecture DotNetFX is easy as you just have to re-run;

hipo@noah:~$ winetricks dotnet20

However in order to install dotnetfx.exe Ms .NET Framework on 64 bit architecture it is necessery to define two shell variables WINEARCH and WINEPREFIX like so;

hipo@noah:~$ env WINEARCH=win32 WINEPREFIX=~/.wine32 winetricks dotnet20

.NET M$ Install dialog will pop-up like in below screenshots;


Once wine32 gets configured you get Setup extract and Install dialogs;

installing dotnet with wine screenshot

Installing dotnet with wine on Debian Squeeze GNU / linux

To install .NET 2.0 is installed;

hipo@noah:~$ env WINEARCH=win32 WINEPREFIX=~/.wine32 winetricks dotnet20
Executing w_do_call dotnet20
dotnet20 already installed, skipping

Further on to install .NET 3.0 SP1 download dotnetfx30SP1setup.exe and run with wine;

As of time of writting this, download link is;


hipo@noah:~$ env WINEARCH=win32 WINEPREFIX=~/.wine32 wine Downloads/dotnetfx30SP1setup.exe

Installing dotnet 3.5 wine debian linux screenshot

welcome to dotnet 3.5 sp1

Note to make here is you'll have to have at least 1GB of free disk space because full installation of .NET SP1 requires minimum 1 GB hdd space available.

Linux Wine Microsoft dotnet SP1 installing in process

After downloaded installation will start

Installing Microsoft dotNET Framework 3.0 SP linux Setup

After a loooongg, looong waiting finally a New Version of Skype 4.0 is out – Skype 4 on Debian GNU / Linux short review

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

After about 3 years of no new version for GNU / Linux finally Skype has released a new version of Skype.
I thought already there will be never a new skype version out for GNU / Linux, since the moment Microsoft purchased skype.

Now suddenly and quite in quiet the new version of Skype 4.0 is out for download from Skype's website. The latest Skype download for Linux is to be found here

As of time of writting this post there are Skype 4 versions for following Linux-es;;;

  • Ubuntu 10.04 32 / 64-bit (probably would work fine on latest Ubuntus too)
  • Debian 6.0 Squeeze 32 / 64-bit
  • Fedora 16 / 32 bit
  • OpenSUSE 12.1 32bit (only)
  • Most likely the Ubuntu release of skype 4 will work flawlessly on Linux Mint and other debian derivatives.The The release mentions, Skype 4 is supposed to have 4 major advancements and the gap in interface and usability with latest Mac OS and M$ Windows Skype versions is now filled.The four major changes said in the announcement are;;;

  • 1. a new Conversations View where users can easily track all of their chats in a unified window.
    Those users who prefer the old view can disable this in the Chat options;
  • 2. a brand new Call View;
  • 3.Call quality has never been better thanks to several investments we made in improving audio quality;
  • 4. Improved video call quality and extended support for more cameras.
  • Some of the minor improvements in those

  • new Linux skype
  • are:- improved chat synchronization- new presence and emoticon icons- the ability to store and view phone numbers in a Skype contact's profile- much lower chance Skype for Linux will crash or freeze- chat history loading is now much faster- support for two new languages: Czech (flag:cz) and Norwegian (flag:no)Just like with prior Skype releases 2.0 and 2.2beta this release comes with almost same list of non-english language support ,,,Seeing those announcement, I've hurried to download and test skype 4 on my 64-bit desktop running Debian 6 Squeeze.Once downloaded to install the pack skype-debian_4.0.0.7-1_amd64.deb I used the usual dpkg -i i,e,;;;noah:~# dpkg -iskype-debian_4.0.0.7-1_amd64.deb…………..Just like the release announcement mentions the first initial launch of Skype 4 took about 3 or 4 minutes doing something (probably sending half of my hard disk data to Microsoft 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) along with importing the prior skype data and chat history :)The minimum software dependencies for correct operation of Skype are:Qt libraries; D-Bus; libasound and pulseaudioHere are few screenshots of Skype 4 to give you an idea what to expect:The Skype Options is almost identical to Skype 2.2. One interesting new feature I've noticed is Skype WIFIUnfortunately to use Skype WIFI you need to have purchased skype credits.Another notable difference is the organization of Skype Chats, which is more like in the good old times of mIRC and IRC chat clientsHere is also the list of Skype emoticons including bundled with Skype 4:The "look & feel" of the new interface gives the impression of seriously improved Skype client stability too.There was a minor trouble with the voice recording (microphone) with Skype 4;To make the microphone work properly I had to raise up the mic volume from PulseAudio settings in Skype options.Well that's all the only unpleasent thing for this new skype is it is using KDE's libQT and seems not to have a native interface for GNOME via GTK2. If we put away this I guess this version of Skype is much more stable and therefore I would recommend anyone to update.Of course we never know if this new updated more stable Skype release is not filled up with backdoors or does not transfer all our conversations to microsoft but we didn't know that even when Skype was not Microsoft's so and since it is not a free software I guess it doesn't matter so much.As you can guess Microsoft has imposed centralization on Skype protocol so connecting the peers is now done by Microsoft servers this news is another intriguing one.According to one recent article from May 1, 2012 Microsoft Skype replaces the Peer-to-Peer P2P supernodes with Linux boxes hosted by Microsoft – In short that probably means that by changing this nowdays microsoft probably now logs all chat sessions between Skype users, even it is likely the calls between users are recorded too. We all know Microsoft imperialism pretty well so I guess this is not a big news …..This new release of Skype if it is significantly more stable than it is prior releases would certainly have serious positive implication on the development and adoption of Linux for the Desktop. So far I'm sure one of the obstacles of many manufacturers of notebooks and comp equipment to ship with Linux was the lack of a stable and easy to implement skype release for Linux.Well that's all folks. Enjoy the New Skype Cheeres ! 🙂

AEWAN – a nice advanced GNU / Linux console ASCII art text editor

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

I'm a guy fascinated by ASCII art, since the very early days I saw a piece of this awesome digital art.

As time passed and computers went to be used mostly  graphics resolution, ASCII art loose its huge popularity from the early DOS and BBS (internet primordial days).

However, this kind  of art is still higly valued by true computer geeks.
In that manner of thoughts, lately I'm researching widely on ASCII art tools and ASCII art open source tools available for Linux.
Last time I check what is available for 'ASCII job' was before 5 years time. Recently I decided to review once again and see if there are new software for doing ascii manipulations on Linux and this is how this article got born.

My attention was caught by aewan (ASCII-art Editor Without A Name), while searching for ASCII keyword description packages with:

apt-cache search ascii

Aewan project official website is on sourceforge check it out here

Here is the complete description of the Debian package:

hipo@noah:~$ apt-cache show aewan|grep -i description -A 5
Description: ASCII-art Editor Without A Name
aewan is an ASCII art editor with support for multiple layers that can be
edited individually, colors, rectangular copy and paste, and intelligent
horizontal and vertical flipping (converts '\' to '/', etc). It produces
both stand-alone art files and an easy-to-parse format for integration
into your terminal applications.

I installed it to give it a try:

noah:~# apt-get --yes install aewan
Selecting previously deselected package aewan.
(Reading database ... 388522 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking aewan (from .../aewan_1.0.01-3_amd64.deb) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Setting up aewan (1.0.01-3) ...

aewan package provides three executable binaries:

noah:~# dpkg -L aewan|grep -i /bin/ /usr/bin/aecat

1. aewan binary is the ascii-art editor itself

2. aecat is utility to display an aewan documents (aewan format saved files)3. aemakeflictool to produce an animation from an aewan document

Next I ran it in plain console tty  to check how it is like:

hipo@noah:~$ aewan

Below are screenshots to give you an idea how powerful aewan ASCII art editor is:

AEWAN ASCII art editor entry information screen Debian GNU / Linux shot

Aewan immediate entry screen after start up

Aewan ASCII art editor Linux showing the major functionality of aewan on Debian GNU / Linux Squeeze

Aewan ASCII art editor – all of the supported tool functions

As you can see from the shot the editor is very feature rich. I was stunned to find out it even supports layers (in ASCII!!) (w0w!). 
It even has a Layers Manager (like GIMP) 🙂

To create my first ASCII art I used the:



This however didn't immediately show the prompt, where I can type  the ascii characters to draw my picture. In order to be able to draw inside the editor, its necessary to open at least one layer, through using the menu:

Add Layer (defaults)

then the interactive ASCII art editor appeared.

While an ASCII art is created with the editor you can select the color of the input characters by using Drawing Color menu seen in the above screenshot.

aewan drawing color choose color Linux shot

I've played few minutes and created a sample ascii art, just to test the color and editor "look & feel", my conclusions are the editor chars drawing is awesome.

Aewan ascii art produced on my Debian GNU / Linux host

All the commands available via menus are also accessible via a shortcut key combinations:

Aewan Linux Ascii art editor quick key shortcut commands

aewan controls are just great and definitely over-shadows every other text editor I used to draw an ASCII art so far.
Once saved the ASCII art, are by default saved in a plain gzipped ascii text. You can therefore simply zcat the the saves;
Don't expect zcat to show you the ascii as they're displayed in aewan, zcat-ing it will instead  display just the stored meta data; the meta data is interpreted and displayed properly only with aecat command.

aewan aecat displaying properly previously saved ascii art picture

I've checked online for rpm builds too and such are available, so installing on Fedora, CentOS, SuSE etc. is up to downloading the right distro / hardware architecture rpm package and running:

# rpm -ivh aewan*.rpm

On the official website, there are also instructions to compile from source, Slackware users and users of other distros which doesn't have a package build should compile manually with the usual:

$ tar -zxf aewan-1.0.01.tar.gz
$ cd aewan-1.0.01
$ ./configure
$ make
$ su -c "make install"

For those inrested to make animations with aemakeflic you need to first save a multiple layers of pictures. The idea of creating ASCII art video is pretty much like the old school way to make animation "draw every scene" and movie it. Once all different scene layers of the ASCII art animation are prepared one could use  aemakeflic to export all the ASCII layers as common video.

aemakeflic has the ability to export the ASCII animation in a runnable shell script to display the animation. The other way aemakeflic can be used is to produce a picture in kind of text format showing the video whether seen with  less cmd.
Making ASCII animation takes a lot of time and effort. Since i'm too lazy and I lack the time I haven't tested this functionality. Anyways I've seen some ascii videos on telnet  to remote hosts (some past time); therefore I guess they were made using aewan and later animated with aemakeflic.

I will close this post with a nice colorful ASCII art, made with aewan (picture is taken from the project page):

Aewan Flipping Selection Screenshot

Viewing JPEG,GIF and PNG in ASCII with cacaview on GNU / Linux – Review on caca-utils text mode graphics utilities

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Stitch 80x45 libcaca mascot cacaview viewing JPG, PNG, GIF images as ASCII on Linux libcaca

Probably, many don't know that it is possible to view normal graphical pictures (JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP) etc. in plain console tty.

Being able to view pictures in ASCII is something really nice especially for console geeks like me.
The images produced sometimes are a bit unreadable, if compared to the original graphics, but anyways most of the pictures looks pretty decent 🙂

Viewing in console / terminal images on GNU / Linux is possible thanks to a library called libcaca, caca labs libcaca project official website here.
Below is a shot description of libcaca:
hipo@noah:~$ apt-cache show libcaca0|grep 'Description' -A 4
Description: colour ASCII art library
libcaca is the Colour AsCii Art library. It provides high level functions
for colour text drawing, simple primitives for line, polygon and ellipse
drawing, as well as powerful image to text conversion routines.

In Debian, Ubuntu and other deb Linux distros viewing GUI images with no need for Xserver or any kind of window manager in plain ASCII is possible with cacaview.

cacaview is part of a package called caca-utils. caca-utils is providing few other great utilities for ASCII freaks 🙂 along with cacaview console ascii viewer prog.
The package> is available for Debian distributins since many years, so even on a very old Debians like Debian – (Potato, Woody, Sarge) the package is available in default free package repositories ready to install via apt

To install apt-get it as usual:

noah:~# apt-get --yes install caca-utils

Here is a list of the binaries the package provides:

hipo@noah:~$ dpkg -L caca-utils|grep -i /usr/bin/

1. cacaserver a tiny program allowing network streaming of applications written in caca

Belkow is a chop, from man cacaserver

cacaserver reads libcaca animation files in its standard input and
serves them as ANSI art on network port 51914. These animations can be
created by any libcaca program by setting the CACA_DRIVER environment
variable to raw and piping the program's standard output to cacaserver.

Clients can then connect to port 51914 using telnet or netcat to see
the output.

The example section of the manual points 1 example use of cacaserver to stream the console output from cacademo.
cacademo binary is a short presentation ASCII DEMO in the spirit of the old school assembly demos (demoscene) .
To run it to bind on port 51914 one has to type in bash shell:
hipo@noah:~$ CACA_DRIVER=raw cacademo | cacaserver
initialised network, listening on port 51914

Then to check out how the demo looks, open telnet connection to the cacaserver host; In my case the cacaserver is binded and streamed over IP

hipo@debian:~$ telnet 51914

Immediately you got the demo shining; Below are two screenshots of the demo played after succesful telnet connection:

Cacaserver - caca for the network screenshot Matrix cacademo

cacademo running over telnet network connection – Matrix

cacaserver running on Debian GNU / Linux drug addict like spots streamed via telnet

Blur spots cacademo shot of cacademo streamed via network

You see the demo looks quite awesome 🙂

2. Running cacafire to stream over network

Another possible example use of cacaserver is in conjunction with cacafire libcaca test application:

noah:~# CACA_DRIVER=raw cacafire | cacaserver
initialised network, listening on port 51914
cacafire is a short application written to render ASCII via libcaca and is just displaying a screen with ASCII (moving) burning fire.
It is quite spectacular if you, ask an unexpecting friend to connect to your host to 51914 🙂

Cacafire Screenshot Debian GNU / Linux cacaserver streaming ASCII demo via network port 51914

Besides that bored sys admins, could run cacafire in console to hypnotize themselves watching dumb the burning fire screen for few hoursor just use it as a screensaver 😉

3. cacaview a program to display a graphic images in console using ASCII art

cacaview takes just one argument – the picture to be displayed.

Below is a screenshot of cacaview ran from my gnome-terminal displaying a ASCII text version of the MySQL server logo

hipo@noah:~$ cd /disk/pictures
hipo@noah:/disk/pictures$ cacaview mysql_logo.png


cacaview displaying MySQL database logo in ASCII using caca for X

Whether cacaview is invoked in GUI, the libcaca X support is used, so the text image is visualized in new window with graphics, if however it is invoked in plain let's say tty1 libcaca displays the graphics pictures drawing it with only text characters.

Here is also a screenshot, I've made while viewing a GIF website logo in ASCII in plain tty console:

hipo@noah:~$ cacaview /disk/pictures/logo.gif

cacaview plain tty console screenshot of a website logo graphics pictures 17-05-2012

The logo is in cyrillic, so for latin speaking people some of the characters in the two words seen will be unreadable 🙂

cacaview even supports viewing, the next and previous picture in line, like in any modern graphics image viewer program.
To view a bunch of graphic pictures in ASCII with cacaview pass it *.*:

hipo@noah:~$ cacaview /disk/pictures/*.*

For simplicity the common unix * is also supported, so I find it quicker to do:

hipo@noah:~$ cacaview /disk/pictures/*

Showing pictures forward and backward (Previous / Next) picture is done with n and p kbd keys, whether;
n - next;
p - previous

cacaview doesn't crash or stop but skip unknown file formats – if for instance encounters filenames which are not images; lets say you have *.rar archive files along with other pictures.

The complete list of keys cacaview supports are:
br />

? show the help screen

n, p switch to next image, previous image

Left, Right, Up, Down or h, l, k, j
scroll the image around

+, – zoom in and out

z reset the zoom level to normal

f switch fullscreen mode (hide/show menu and status bars)

d toggle the dithering mode (no dithering, 4×4 ordered dithering, 8×8 ordered dithering and random dithering)

q exit the program

4. Converting graphics images to ASCII art like (plain text pictures)

The tool that does "the trick" is img2txt. img2txt has a bit more options while compared to the rest of the aforementioned tools.The following list of arguments are recognized:

  • the size (font, height)
  • brightness
  • contrast
  • gamma and dither
  • format type of out the output pic

Anyways I found that the basic just in / out arguments passed are enough to produce pretty good results:

hipo@noah:~$ img2txt hipo_avatar.gif >hipo_avatar_pic.txt

The original hipo_avatar.gif file looks like so:

hipo avatar gif picture before img2txt convertion to text

After above img2txt command is run and hipo_avatar_pic.txt to see the colorful output ASCII art img2txt produces, cat it:

hipo@noah:~$ cat hipo_avatar_pic.txt

The image result if screenshot looks quite beautiful and even, can be considered or used as an ART effect image (filter) 🙂

Console Screenshot hipo avatar pic ASCII img2txt output picture

The picture colors are plain ANSI color, so in order to display properly the picture with colors on another computers or Operating System you will need at least basic support for ANSI colors.

Plenty of output file formats are supported by img2txt

Here is the complete list of supported output formats:

ansi : coloured ANSI
caca : internal libcaca format
utf8 : UTF8 with CR
utf8 : UTF8 with CRLF (MS Windows)
html : HTML with CSS and DIV support
html3 : Pure HTML3 with tables
irc : IRC with ctrl-k codes
bbfr : BBCode (French)
ps : Postscript
svg : Scalable Vector Graphics
tga : Targa Image

libcaca is available for FreeBSD too, but the caca-utils is not available as a port yet, though probably the deb or rpm packages can easily be ported to BSD.

Well that's all, Enjoy.