Information on how to use the Debian search engine

The Debian search engine at http://search.debian.org/ will allow for different types of searching, depending on what you would like to do.

Simple Search

The simplest way of all is to enter a single word in the search box, and hit enter (or click the Search button). The search engine will then return all pages on the website that have that word in it. This will give you good results quite often.

The next level up is to search for more than one word. You have a choice:

search for all words
which will return pages that have all the words you typed
search for any words
which will return pages that have any of the words you typed

Boolean Search

If a simple search is not enough, then Boolean may do the job for you. You have a choice of and, or, not and a combination of these three.

& - logical AND will return results where both words are in the page. For example "gcc & patch" will find any URLs have contain both "gcc" and "patch".

| - logical OR will return results where either word is in the page. For example "gcc | patch" will find any URLs that have either "gcc" or "patch".

~ - logical NOT excludes a word from the results. You will usually use this with logical AND ( & ) as it removes results from a list. For example "gcc & ~patch" will find all URLs that contain "gcc" that do not also contain "patch". Searching for just "~patch" will not return anything because you were searching for nothing, which returns nothing, and then removing pages that contain the word "patch" from the empty list, which of course still returns nothing.

() - grouping adds even more complexity as you can now group logical blocks together. For example "(gcc | make) & ~patch" will find all URLs that contain either "gcc" or "make" but do not contain "patch".