Can someone please explain this situation to me?

I do an aptitude search and I get the following output:

i package  ...
p package:i386 ...

When I start up synaptic I see package but not package:i386

Also can someone clarify what the p and I stand for?

2 Answers 2


The i and p mean that the package is either installed or is a package that's available to be installed.

For example

$ aptitude search aptitude
i   aptitude              - terminal-based package manager
p   aptitude:i386         - terminal-based package manager
i A aptitude-common       - architecture indepedent files for the aptitude package manager
p   aptitude-dbg          - Debug symbols for the aptitude package manager
p   aptitude-dbg:i386     - Debug symbols for the aptitude package manager
v   aptitude-doc          -

man page

From man aptitude:

Unless you pass the -F option, the output of aptitude search will look something like this:


 i   apt                             - Advanced front-end for dpkg
 pi  apt-build                       - frontend to apt to build, optimize and in 
 cp  apt-file                        - APT package searching utility -- command-
 ihA raptor-utils                    - Raptor RDF Parser utilities


Each search result is listed on a separate line. The first character of each line indicates the current state of the package: the most common states are p, meaning that no trace of the package exists on the system, c, meaning that the package was deleted but its configuration files remain on the system, i, meaning that the package is installed, and v, meaning that the package is virtual. The second character indicates the stored action (if any; otherwise a blank space is displayed) to be performed on the package, with the most common actions being i, meaning that the package will be installed, d, meaning that the package will be deleted, and p, meaning that the package and its configuration files will be removed. If the third character is A, the package was automatically installed.



You have an amd64 system with multiarch support.

Packages with no architecture indication are either for your native architecture (i.e. here amd64) or architecture-independent. Packages for another architecture have :ARCHNAME appended to them in the Aptitude output, e.g. :i386 for a 32-bit package on an x86 (PC) system.

You're seeing a lot of i package (package for the native architecture is installed) and p package:i386 (package for the architecture i386 is not installed — it is purged) because on a typical system, few non-native packages are installed. For the most part, non-native packages are used to provide libraries for third-party programs.

Synaptic isn't showing the non-native packages. This may be an old bug or a new configuration option — I don't know as I'm not familiar enough with Synaptic.

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