Sometimes you run a command and get a "command not found" error message.

After that you try to install the package that contains that command (I think that's what happens anyway?)

e.g. showmount: command not found

apt-get install showmount does nothing, so I guess the showmount command is part of a package, but I don't know what that package is.

How can I find out what package I need to install to get whichever command I need? I am using Kali Linux.


6 Answers 6


You can use apt-file for that (you might need to install it):

apt-file search showmount

This reveals that the command is in the nfs-common package.

Typically when you're looking for a binary you can restrict the search by prefixing the binary with bin/:

apt-file search bin/showmount

To install apt-file, run

sudo apt-get install apt-file
sudo apt-file update

If you end up with apt-file 3.0 or later, you won’t need to update the indexes again separately (after the initial download above), they are updated whenever the main APT indexes are updated.


You might want to ease your life by installing the command-not-found helper

$ sudo apt install command-not-found
$ showmount
Command 'showmount' is available in '/sbin/showmount'
The command could not be located because '/sbin' is not included in the PATH environment variable.
This is most likely caused by the lack of administrative priviledges associated with your user account.
showmount: command not found
  • 1
    Nice, but note that this works in bash but not in other shells (I tried tcsh and zsh)
    – arielf
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 19:05

You can use apt-cache, which is included as default on debian based distributions (afaik):

apt-cache search showmount

which gives the result nfs-common as well.

  • 2
    That works in this case (and is a good idea anyway), but it only finds words mentioned in a package’s name and description, so it’s unfortunately not applicable generally. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:39
  • 1
    In Debian can work also like apt search pkgname Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:41
  • @StephenKitt Correct!
    – Joakim
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 14:26
  • both apt-cache search showmount and apt search showmount have me the result i was looking for. @StephenKitt when i use apt-file search showmount it says update cache despite already running apt-file update. That is why i have asked Joakims answer.
    – a.smith
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 8:47
  • That’s fine, I hope you don’t mind that I edited your question to make its title more specific as a result (since the accepted answer doesn’t work in general). Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 9:03

Browse over to http://packages.debian.org or http://packages.ubuntu.com under the 'Search the contents of packages' section. You can find the package that contains the file you need without installing other apt tools.


I faced the same issue while mounting nfs server. In my case just run the following command.

sudo showmount -e [ip address of the nfs server]

I forgot to write sudo.


Run the following commands,

  • # apt update
  • # apt install rpcbind nfs-common

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