Ara, package search engine

Lost in the 30,000 packages automatically installable from your Debian system ? ara is a powerful search engine that allows you to do regular expression searches on package metadata. You can restrict subqueries to arbitrary fields, and combine them using boolean operators. The results are sorted by opoularity. ara is also available as stand-alone applications with command-line or graphical user interfaces.


"Ara" means "to search" in Turkish. The Venn diagram symbolizes Ara's ability to do full boolean queries on the package database. The red spiral-like thing is the Debian logo.


Ara is a utility for searching the Debian package database. It works in batch mode, in interactive command-line mode (with a built-in line editor) or with a graphical interface, Xara.


Ara and Xara have been written by Berke Durak and are released under the GNU General Public Licence..

Debian packaging has been done by George Danchev, Thomas Schoepf, Sven Luther and Samuel Mimram. Thanks to all people who sent in bug reports.


Ara is distributed with Debian and Ubuntu. Just type apt-get install ara for the command-line version or apt-get install xara-gtk for the Gtk version.



The command-line interface with ASCII table layout.

Ara started as a command-line tool. It has a full-featured command-line interface with complex queries, variables, output paging and command-line editing with history (thanks to Ledit).


The graphical interface.

Then came the graphical user interface. This one uses LablGtk, the Gtk bindings for Objective Caml. The Debian package is named xara-gtk .


The web interface has been online since 2004.

The web interface of ara is now hosted by the European EDOS project. It uses ara 1.1.0. The regular expression syntax is that of Perl (thread-unsafe Str has been replaced with Pcre).

Here is the manual page .


Ara is entirely written in Objective Caml. Xara uses LablGTK2 for its graphical interface.

Source code via SVN

You can download the source code using Subversion from the repository . Simply type svn co svn:// . You can also browse the repository.