Help with Debtags search

About Debtags

You can perform searches with Debtags using the search form of its web interface.

For that you will need to know :

Some facets are targeted at specific software domains (i.e: sound, web, game, office, x11). Some others, like field and use, or works-with and works-with-format can apply to various software.

role::program might also be useful when you want to eliminate packages which cover your field of research but are not applications (packages such as documentation, libraries, etc., which are not meant to contain programs).

Same goes for scope, which isn't obvious, but helps to distinguish the main applications from its secondary tools (that could be helper scripts which do not make sense to be used as standalone).

Be aware some more tagging work is still needed (some facets are lacking and some packages tags are unreviewed or still need to be assigned)

Web search currently has limitations and limits number of results to 20. Alternatively, you might want to use some software to perform Debtags-based searches.


This section describes the query syntax supported by the search interface. The syntax is the one of Xapian's QueryParser and is designed to be similar to other web based search engines.


AND: expression AND expression matches documents which are matched by both of the subexpressions.

OR: expression OR expression matches documents which are matched by either of the subexpressions.

NOT: expression NOT expression matches documents which are matched by only the first subexpression. This can also be written as expression AND NOT expression. NOT expression matches documents which don't match the subexpression.

XOR: expression XOR expression matches documents which are matched by one or other of the subexpressions, but not both. XOR is probably a bit esoteric.

Bracketed expressions

You can control the precedence of the boolean operators using brackets. In the query one OR two AND three the AND takes precedence, so this is the same as one OR (two AND three). You can override the precedence using (one OR two) AND three.

The default precedence from highest to lowest is:

A group of terms with some marked with + and - will match documents containing all of the + terms, but none of the - terms. Terms not marked with + or - contribute towards the document rankings. You can also use + and - on phrases and on bracketed expressions.


tag:tag matches the Debtags tag by tag name. For example: tag:use::editing.

sec:section matches the Debian package section. For example: sec:mail.