dselect [options] [action]

A screen-oriented user frontend to dpkg. The primary user interface for installing and managing packages. See dpkg and dpkg-deb for information on building packages.


If dselect is run with no action specified on the command line, it displays the following menu:

 * 0. [A]ccess     Choose the access method to use.                           
  1. [U]pdate   Update list of available packages, if   
  2. [S]elect   Request which packages you want on your 
  3. [I]nstall  Install and upgrade wanted packages.
  4. [C]onfig   Configure any packages that are 
  5. [R]emove   Remove unwanted software.
  6. [Q]uit     Quit dselect.

The asterisk (on the first line) shows the currently selected option. Any of the menu items can be specified directly on the command line as an action (access, update, select, install, config, remove, quit) to go directly to the desired activity. For example:

% dselect access

If you enter quit on the command line, dselect exits immediately without doing anything. An additional command-line action is menu, which displays the menu and is equivalent to running dselect with no action.


Options can be specified both on the command line and in the dselect configuration file, /etc/dpkg/dselect.cfg.

--admindir dir

Change the directory that holds internal data files to dir. Default is /var/lib/dpkg.

--color colorspec, --colour colorspec

Set colors for different parts of the screen, as specified by colorspec as follows:

screenpart:[fgcolor],[bgcolor ...

Get Linux in a Nutshell, Fourth Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.