Package Queries

Some commands accept package queries to identify list of packages to process. Package query syntax almost matches reprepro query language. Query consists of the following simple terms:

  • direct package reference: reference to exactly one package. Format is identical to the way aptly lists packages in show commands with -with-packages flag: name_version_arch, e.g.: libmysqlclient18_5.5.35-rel33.0-611.squeeze_amd64
  • dependency condition: syntax follows Debian dependency specification: package_name followed by optional version specification and architecture limit, e.g: mysql-client (>= 3.6).
  • query against package fields: syntax is the same as for dependency conditions, but instead of package name field name is used, e.g: Priority (optional).

Supported fields:

  • all field names from Debian package control files are supported except for Filename, MD5sum, SHA1, SHA256, Size, Files, Checksums-SHA1, Checksums-SHA256.
  • $Source is a name of source package (for binary packages)
  • $SourceVersion is a version of source package
  • $Architecture is Architecture for binary packages and source for source packages, when matching with equal (=) operator, package with any architecture matches all architectures but source.
  • $Version has the same value as Version, but comparison operators use Debian version precedence rules
  • $PackageType is deb for binary packages, udeb for .udeb packages and source for source packages


  • =: strict match, default operator is no operator is given
  • >=, <=, =, >> (strictly greater), << (strictly less): lexicographical comparison for all fields and special rules when comparing package versions
  • %: pattern matching, like shell patterns, supported special symbols are: [^]?*, e.g.: $Version (% 3.5-*)
  • ~: regular expression matching, e.g.: Name (~ .*-dev)

Simple terms could be combined into more complex queries using operators , (and), | (or) and ! (not), parentheses () are used to change operator precedence. Match value could be enclosed in single (') or double (") quotes if required to resolve ambiguity, quotes inside quoted string should escaped with slash (\).


  • mysql-client: matches package mysql-client of any version and architecture (including source), also matches packages that Provide: mysql-client.
  • mysql-client (>= 3.6): matches package mysql-client with version greater or equal to 3.6. Valid operators for version are: >=, <=, =, >> (strictly greater), << (strictly less).
  • mysql-client {i386}: matches package mysql-client on architecture i386, architecture all matches all architectures but source.
  • mysql-client (>= 3.6) {i386}: version and architecture conditions combined.
  • libmysqlclient18_5.5.35-rel33.0-611.squeeze_amd64: direct package reference.
  • $Source (nginx): all binary packages with nginx as source package.
  • !Name (~ .*-dev), mail-transport, $Version (>= 3.5): matches all packages that provide mail-transport with name that has no suffix -dev and with version greater or equal to 3.5.
  • Name: query matches all the packages (as it means “package name is not empty”).

When specified on command line, query may have to be quoted according to shell rules, so that it stays single argument:

$ aptly repo import percona stable 'mysql-client (>= 3.6)'

You can use package queries filter mirrors to include only packages with limited priorities:

$ aptly mirror create -filter="Priority (required)" wheezy-required wheezy main

Or download single packages and all its dependencies:

$ aptly mirror create -filter="nginx" -filter-with-deps wheezy-required wheezy main

Pull packages with complex conditions:

$ aptly snapshot pull snapshot1 source snapshot2 '!Name (% *-dev), $Version (>= 3.5)'

Or remove packages based on query:

$ aptly repo remove local-repo 'Name (% http-*) | $Source (webserver)'

Query could be tested by using family of search commands: for mirrors, snapshots and local repos.