A short while ago I asked this question - Does "apt-get -s upgrade" or some other apt command have an option to list the repositories the packages will be downloaded from?, about how to list the repositories packages would be upgraded from. I have now learned another command, apt-cache madison which will list the repos a package will be installed from.

Why a name like madison which is in no way related to the task at hand?

2 Answers 2


The madison command was added in apt 0.5.20. It produces output that's similar to a then-existing tool called madison which was used by Debian server administrators. Several of these tools had names which were common female forenames, I don't know if there's a specific history behind that.

The madison tool no longer exists but there's a partial reimplementation called madison-lite (querying a local package archive, like the original), as well as a script called rmadison in devscripts which queries remote servers.

apt-cache madison is not emphasized because most of what it displays is also available through apt-cache showpkg and apt-cache policy.

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    From the Debian wiki Britney was "the set of scripts that manages the migration of packages into testing. Originally it was one of many similar FTPmaster scripts with names like katie and madison, most of which have since been swallowed up by DAK." Apr 12, 2016 at 22:59

From man apt-cache:

apt-cache’s madison command attempts to mimic the output format and a subset of the functionality of the Debian archive management tool, madison. It displays available versions of a package in a tabular format. Unlike the original madison, it can only display information for the architecture for which APT has retrieved package lists (APT::Architecture)

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