whohas 0.29

by Philipp L. Wesche


whohas is a command line tool that allows querying several package lists at once - currently supported are Arch, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, openSUSE, Slackware (and linuxpackages.net), Source Mage, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Fink, MacPorts and Cygwin. whohas is written in Perl and was designed to help package maintainers find ebuilds, pkgbuilds and similar package definitions from other distributions to learn from. However, it can also be used by normal users who want to know:


The 0.29 branch is now being maintained on github.


It is suggested you use Unix command line tools to enhance your search results. whohas is optimised for fast execution. This is done by threading, and the order of results cannot be guaranteed. To nonetheless get a standardised output, alphabetically sorted by distribution, use the sort tool:

whohas gimp | sort

You can use grep to improve your search results. Depending on whether you want only packages whose names begin with your search term, end with your search term, or exactly match, you would use a space before, after or on both sides of your search term, respectively:

whohas gimp | sort | grep " gimp"

whohas vim | sort | grep "vim "

whohas gimp | sort | grep " gimp "

The spaces will ensure that only results for the package gimp are displayed, not for gimp-print etc.

If you want results for a particular distribution only, do

whohas arch | grep "^Arch"

Output for each module will still be ordered, so you don't need to sort results in this case, although you may wish to do so for some distributions. Distribution names are abbreviated as "Arch", "Debian", "Fedora", "Gentoo", "Mandriva", "openSUSE", "Slackware", "Source Mage", "FreeBSD", "NetBSD", "OpenBSD", "Fink", "MacPorts" and "Cygwin".

Output in version 0.1 looked like this. The first column is the name of the distribution, the second the name of the package, the third the version number, then the date, repository name and a url linking to more information about the package. Future versions will have package size information, too. Column lengths are fixed, so you can use cut:

whohas vim | grep " vim " | cut -b 38-47

The first bytes of the data fields at the time of writing are 0, 11, 49, 67, 71, 81 and 106.

Here is an example of whohas 0.1 in a terminal session, showing how it works with grep and cut.

Features and limitations

Debian refers to the binary distribution. Slackware queries Current only - Slackware package search is currently offline and undergoing redesign, therefore I disabled the module until I know more. Binary sizes for Fedora are package sizes - space needed on disk will be greater by about factor 2. Binary sizes for Debian are unpacked sizes. All details (including availability, version numbers and binary sizes) are for the x86 architecture.

Debian version numbers in rare cases may not be for x86 (will be fixed). Gentoo version availability may not be for x86 (will be fixed). I recommend you consult the URLs provided in the output, which give detailed and accurate information about each package.

You may want to use a terminal that recognises hyperlinks and allows easy access through the browser, such as gnome-terminal.

For Fedora, only release 12 is enabled by default, and only the most up to date package will be listed if different versions are available.

For openSUSE, repository designations are abbreviated for screen space reasons: the tilde symbol, ~, replaces "home", and any trailing string that simply points to the current release is truncated. Nonetheless, some of openSUSE's repository paths remain too long to be shown in full.




Currently, the local repositories created in the user's home directory take up 1.0 megabytes.



















Whohas packaged for Mac OS X. Simply put it in your application directory (it will not work anywhere else).

Whohas.app-0.21.dmg (not updated to latest version yet)

Third party tools

Christoph Schneeberger has set up a web-based interface here, the Python code for which can be found here under a license that requires copyright notices to be maintained.

Joost van Baal has produced an html converter for whohas results, found here and examples of input and output files here.

Distribution-specific packages

We'll let whohas speak for itself (upcoming 0.30 will have html output as an option):

$ whohas whohas | sort

Source Magewhohas0.24test
Source Magewhohas0.24stable

On the Ubuntu side, whohas has actually been present since 10.04 "Lucid Lynx".

Bug reports, patches and new modules

Send them along to phi1ipp@yahoo.com. Patches are more welcome if they're short (is less than 30 lines asking too much?). The tarballs include an example module so you can write and submit your own additional modules.


Thanks to Andrew "ruskie" Levstik for suggesting the Source Mage module and providing a small package list file on their server for whohas to parse.

Thanks to Ladislav Bodnar of Distrowatch for advice on version checking, and his list of seminal Linux packages and stable version numbers.

Thanks to Asari Takashi, Ladislav Hagara, Enrico Tröger, Steve Cotton, Evgeni Golov, Giuseppe Iuculano, Cristian Ionescu-Idbohrn, Sylvestre Ledru and Rain_maker for sending patches. Thanks to Jonathan Wiltshire for the original manpage, and forwarding Debian bug reports. If I've forgotten to mention anyone, please let me know.

Also thanks to all package maintainers.




updated 21 December 2013