Discovering Uninstalled Alternatives for /etc/alternatives

Smylers Smylers at
Fri Aug 26 14:00:38 UTC 2011

Ric Moore writes:

> On Wed, 2011-08-24 at 10:55 +0100, Smylers wrote:
> > Hi there. How do I find out which packages provide an alternative
> > for a particular entry in /etc/alternatives?
> > 
> > For example, I recently spotted that the mutt command uses the
> > alternatives mechanism. So I wanted to know which other packages
> > provide a mutt command -- maybe one of those would have something
> > interesting in that I'd prefer to the Mutt I'm currently using.
> > 
> > update-alternatives only lists alternatives that I already have
> > installed.
> > 
> > What I want is a list of all packages that provide a particular
> > alternative, so that I can consider installing them.
> I just went through the same thing... in synaptic, search on
> alternatives and you'll see two different gui's for alternatives.

Hi Ric. Thanks for your help. Unfortunately I'm still not quite there
yet, unable to work out how to run kalternatives.

Not having used Synaptic before, I couldn't find how to search on
alternatives; there are options for searching on name, description,
maintainer, etc. Then I realized you meant to search _for_
"alternatives" in the package list, and that actually I could use any
Apt interface for this, and that by "gui's" you mean gui applications.
(My misunderstanding reported here for the benefit of anybody else
following along, or reading the archives.)

The packages in question are galternatives and kalternatives.

> Works a charm.

Unfortunately not. As it happens I'd already tried galternatives (since
I'm running Gnome, in the form of the 'Ubuntu 2D' desktop) and it
doesn't help; it just does the same thing as the update-alternatives
command, listing only alternatives I already have installed.

Apologies for not mentioning this in my first message.

> It'll show up in your system preferences. I used the KDE one.

Ah, you've only used kalternatives? I suspect galternatives is an
entirely independent program and your experiences of one don't translaet
to t'other.

So I installed kalternatives, but it doesn't show up in 'System
Settings' (the nearest I could find to "system preferences"). Possibly
that's because I'm not using KDE.

So I then thought I could just run the kalternatives program directly,
only there isn't a program of that I name! I then used dpkg -L to list
the files in the kalternatives package, to try to spot the program file
in there. But the only significant file in the kalternatives package is
/usr/lib/kde4/ -- which isn't something I can run

How can I run kalternatives, please?

> Piece O cake to use,

I'm looking forward to it, once I work out how to run it!

> as I just "manually" installed java 7 to 10.4. Now I'm faced with
> having to install Firefox 4 for java-7 plugin to work. It never ends.

Surely the alternatives and dependencies mechanisms should ensure that
any required packages are automatically installed?


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