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The Aptitude README (on Ubuntu 16.04, under /usr/share/doc/aptitude/README) gives the escape codes to customize how the packages are displayed in the UI (typing aptitude without any parameters at the terminal). The default display format string is

%c%a%M%S %p %Z %v %V

I couldn't find anywhere in the documentation an escape code for the package date. I'd like to know when a particular package was released. Is this possible through Aptitude? Or even apt-get?

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Neither aptitude nor apt-get can show that information in package views, because it's not part of the information these programs handle. The information available is that contained in the package indices (which doesn't involve downloading individual packages); you can find these in /var/lib/apt/lists, and they include the following information for each package:

  • its name
  • its source package name
  • its version
  • its installed size
  • its maintainer
  • its architecture
  • its dependencies (of all types, with their translations)
  • its description
  • its homepage
  • its tags
  • its section
  • its priority
  • its package filename
  • its package size
  • its checksums

A package's date is given by the last entry in its changelog, which is stored inside the package, and is therefore only discoverable by downloading the package, or by looking it up on the tracker or launchpad. You can view it after installing a package by checking the top-most entry of /usr/share/doc/${package}/changelog.Debian.gz, or /usr/share/doc/${package}/changelog.Debian.${arch}.gz if the last build of a package was a binNMU (in Debian; this doesn't happen in Ubuntu to my knowledge).

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