Provided by: dpkg_1.16.1.2ubuntu7_i386 bug

NAME

       update-alternatives  -  maintain  symbolic  links  determining  default
       commands

SYNOPSIS

       update-alternatives [option...] command

DESCRIPTION

       update-alternatives   creates,   removes,   maintains   and    displays
       information about the symbolic links comprising the Debian alternatives
       system.

       It is possible for several programs  fulfilling  the  same  or  similar
       functions  to  be  installed  on a single system at the same time.  For
       example, many systems have several  text  editors  installed  at  once.
       This  gives  choice  to  the  users of a system, allowing each to use a
       different editor, if desired, but makes it difficult for a  program  to
       make  a  good  choice  for  an  editor  to  invoke  if the user has not
       specified a particular preference.

       Debian's alternatives system aims to solve  this  problem.   A  generic
       name in the filesystem is shared by all files providing interchangeable
       functionality.  The alternatives system and  the  system  administrator
       together  determine  which  actual  file  is referenced by this generic
       name.  For example, if the text  editors  ed(1)  and  nvi(1)  are  both
       installed on the system, the alternatives system will cause the generic
       name /usr/bin/editor to refer to /usr/bin/nvi by  default.  The  system
       administrator  can  override  this and cause it to refer to /usr/bin/ed
       instead, and the alternatives system will not alter this setting  until
       explicitly requested to do so.

       The  generic  name  is  not  a  direct  symbolic  link  to the selected
       alternative.  Instead,  it  is  a  symbolic  link  to  a  name  in  the
       alternatives  directory, which in turn is a symbolic link to the actual
       file referenced.  This is  done  so  that  the  system  administrator's
       changes can be confined within the /etc directory: the FHS (q.v.) gives
       reasons why this is a Good Thing.

       When each package providing a file with a particular  functionality  is
       installed,  changed or removed, update-alternatives is called to update
       information   about   that   file   in   the    alternatives    system.
       update-alternatives  is usually called from the postinst (configure) or
       prerm (install) scripts in Debian packages.

       It is often useful for a number of alternatives to be synchronised,  so
       that they are changed as a group; for example, when several versions of
       the  vi(1)  editor  are  installed,  the   man   page   referenced   by
       /usr/share/man/man1/vi.1 should correspond to the executable referenced
       by /usr/bin/vi.  update-alternatives handles this by  means  of  master
       and  slave links; when the master is changed, any associated slaves are
       changed too.  A master link and its associated slaves make  up  a  link
       group.

       Each  link  group is, at any given time, in one of two modes: automatic
       or manual.  When a group is in automatic mode, the alternatives  system
       will  automatically  decide,  as  packages  are  installed and removed,
       whether and how to update the links.  In manual mode, the  alternatives
       system  will  retain the choice of the administrator and avoid changing
       the links (except when something is broken).

       Link groups are in automatic mode when they are first introduced to the
       system.   If  the  system  administrator  makes changes to the system's
       automatic   settings,   this   will   be   noticed   the   next    time
       update-alternatives  is  run on the changed link's group, and the group
       will automatically be switched to manual mode.

       Each alternative has a priority associated with it.  When a link  group
       is  in  automatic  mode,  the alternatives pointed to by members of the
       group will be those which have the highest priority.

       When using the --config option, update-alternatives will  list  all  of
       the  choices  for  the  link  group  of  which given name is the master
       alternative name. The current choice is marked with a  '*'.   You  will
       then  be prompted for your choice regarding this link group.  Depending
       on the choice made, the link group might no longer be in auto mode. You
       will  need to use the --auto option in order to return to the automatic
       mode (or you  can  rerun  --config  and  select  the  entry  marked  as
       automatic).

       If you want to configure non-interactively you can use the --set option
       instead (see below).

       Different packages providing the same file need to do so cooperatively.
       In  other  words, the usage of update-alternatives is mandatory for all
       involved packages in such case. It is not  possible  to  override  some
       file  in  a  package  that  does  not  employ  the  update-alternatives
       mechanism.

TERMINOLOGY

       Since the activities of update-alternatives are  quite  involved,  some
       specific terms will help to explain its operation.

       generic name (or alternative link)
              A name, like /usr/bin/editor, which refers, via the alternatives
              system, to one of a number of files of similar function.

       alternative name
              The name of a symbolic link in the alternatives directory.

       alternative (or alternative path)
              The name of a specific file in the filesystem, which may be made
              accessible via a generic name using the alternatives system.

       alternatives directory
              A   directory,  by  default  /etc/alternatives,  containing  the
              symlinks.

       administrative directory
              A directory, by default  /var/lib/dpkg/alternatives,  containing
              update-alternatives' state information.

       link group
              A set of related symlinks, intended to be updated as a group.

       master link
              The  alternative  link  in a link group which determines how the
              other links in the group are configured.

       slave link
              An alternative link in a link group which is controlled  by  the
              setting of the master link.

       automatic mode
              When  a link group is in automatic mode, the alternatives system
              ensures that the  links  in  the  group  point  to  the  highest
              priority alternative appropriate for the group.

       manual mode
              When  a  link  group  is in manual mode, the alternatives system
              will  not  make  any  changes  to  the  system   administrator's
              settings.

COMMANDS

       --install link name path priority [--slave link name path]...
              Add  a group of alternatives to the system.  link is the generic
              name for the master link, name is the name of its symlink in the
              alternatives  directory,  and  path  is  the  alternative  being
              introduced for the master link.  The arguments after --slave are
              the generic name, symlink name in the alternatives directory and
              the alternative path for a slave link.   Zero  or  more  --slave
              options,  each  followed  by  three arguments, may be specified.
              Note that the master alternative must exist  or  the  call  will
              fail.   However  if  a  slave  alternative  doesn't  exist,  the
              corresponding  slave  alternative  link  will  simply   not   be
              installed (a warning will still be displayed). If some real file
              is installed where an alternative link has to be  installed,  it
              is kept unless --force is used.

              If   the  alternative  name  specified  exists  already  in  the
              alternatives system's records, the information supplied will  be
              added  as a new set of alternatives for the group.  Otherwise, a
              new group, set to  automatic  mode,  will  be  added  with  this
              information.   If  the group is in automatic mode, and the newly
              added alternatives' priority is higher than any other  installed
              alternatives  for  this  group,  the symlinks will be updated to
              point to the newly added alternatives.

       --set name path
              Set  the  program  path  as  alternative  for  name.   This   is
              equivalent   to   --config   but  is  non-interactive  and  thus
              scriptable.

       --remove name path
              Remove an alternative and all of  its  associated  slave  links.
              name  is  a  name  in the alternatives directory, and path is an
              absolute filename to which name could  be  linked.  If  name  is
              indeed  linked to path, name will be updated to point to another
              appropriate alternative (and the group is put back in  automatic
              mode),  or  removed  if  there  is  no  such  alternative  left.
              Associated   slave   links   will   be   updated   or   removed,
              correspondingly.  If the link is not currently pointing to path,
              no links are changed; only the information about the alternative
              is removed.

       --remove-all name
              Remove all alternatives and all of their associated slave links.
              name is a name in the alternatives directory.

       --all  Call --config on all alternatives. It can be  usefully  combined
              with  --skip-auto to review and configure all alternatives which
              are not configured in automatic mode.  Broken  alternatives  are
              also   displayed.    Thus   a  simple  way  to  fix  all  broken
              alternatives is to call yes  ''  |  update-alternatives  --force
              --all.

       --auto name
              Switch  the  link  group  behind  the  alternative  for  name to
              automatic mode.  In the process,  the  master  symlink  and  its
              slaves  are  updated  to point to the highest priority installed
              alternatives.

       --display name
              Display information about the link group.  Information displayed
              includes  the  group's  mode (auto or manual), which alternative
              the master link currently points to, what other alternatives are
              available  (and their corresponding slave alternatives), and the
              highest priority alternative currently installed.

       --get-selections
              List all master alternative  names  (those  controlling  a  link
              group)  and  their  status.  Each  line  contains up to 3 fields
              (separated by one or  more  spaces).  The  first  field  is  the
              alternative name, the second one is the status (either "auto" or
              "manual"), and the last one contains the current choice  in  the
              alternative  (beware:  it's  a  filename  and thus might contain
              spaces).

       --set-selections
              Read configuration of alternatives  on  standard  input  in  the
              format  generated  by  update-alternatives  --get-selections and
              reconfigure them accordingly.

       --query name
              Display information about the link group  like  --display  does,
              but in a machine parseable way (see section QUERY FORMAT below).

       --list name
              Display all targets of the link group.

       --config name
              Show  available alternatives for a link group and allow the user
              to interactively select which one to  use.  The  link  group  is
              updated.

       --help Show the usage message and exit.

       --version
              Show the version and exit.

OPTIONS

       --altdir directory
              Specifies  the  alternatives  directory,  when  this  is  to  be
              different from the default.

       --admindir directory
              Specifies the administrative  directory,  when  this  is  to  be
              different from the default.

       --log file
              Specifies  the  log  file, when this is to be different from the
              default (/var/log/alternatives.log).

       --force
              Let update-alternatives replace or drop any real  file  that  is
              installed  where  an  alternative  link  has  to be installed or
              removed.

       --skip-auto
              Skip configuration prompt for alternatives  which  are  properly
              configured  in automatic mode. This option is only relevant with
              --config or --all.

       --verbose
              Generate more comments about what update-alternatives is doing.

       --quiet
              Don't generate any comments unless errors occur.

ENVIRONMENT

       DPKG_ADMINDIR
              If set and the --admindir option has not been specified, it will
              be used as the base administrative directory.

FILES

       /etc/alternatives/
              The  default  alternatives  directory.  Can be overridden by the
              --altdir option.

       /var/lib/dpkg/alternatives/
              The default administration directory.  Can be overridden by  the
              --admindir option.

EXIT STATUS

       0      The requested action was successfully performed.

       2      Problems  were  encountered  whilst  parsing the command line or
              performing the action.

QUERY FORMAT

       The update-alternatives --query format is  using  an  RFC822-like  flat
       format. It's made of n + 1 blocks where n is the number of alternatives
       available in the queried link  group.  The  first  block  contains  the
       following fields:

       Link: link
              The generic name of the alternative.

       Status: status
              The status of the alternative (auto or manual).

       Best: best-choice
              The  path  of  the  best  alternative  for  this link group. Not
              present if there is no alternatives available.

       Value: currently-selected-alternative
              The path of the currently selected alternative. It can also take
              the magic value none. It is used if the link doesn't exist.

       The  other  blocks  describe  the  available alternatives in the
       queried link group:

       Alternative: path-of-this-alternative
              Path to this block's alternative.

       Priority: priority-value
              Value of the priority of this alternative.

       Slaves: list-of-slaves
              When this header is present,  the  next  lines  hold  all
              slave  alternatives  associated to the master link of the
              alternative. There is  one  slave  per  line.  Each  line
              contains  one  space,  the  generic  name  of  the  slave
              alternative, another space, and the  path  to  the  slave
              alternative.

       Example
              $ update-alternatives --query editor
              Link: editor
              Status: auto
              Best: /usr/bin/vim.gtk
              Value: /usr/bin/vim.gtk

              Alternative: /bin/ed
              Priority: -100
              Slaves:
               editor.1.gz /usr/share/man/man1/ed.1.gz

              Alternative: /usr/bin/vim.gtk
              Priority: 50
              Slaves:
               editor.1.gz /usr/share/man/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.ru.1.gz /usr/share/man/ru/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.pl.ISO8859-2.1.gz /usr/share/man/pl.ISO8859-2/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.it.ISO8859-1.1.gz /usr/share/man/it.ISO8859-1/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.pl.UTF-8.1.gz /usr/share/man/pl.UTF-8/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.it.1.gz /usr/share/man/it/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.fr.UTF-8.1.gz /usr/share/man/fr.UTF-8/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.fr.1.gz /usr/share/man/fr/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.it.UTF-8.1.gz /usr/share/man/it.UTF-8/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.pl.1.gz /usr/share/man/pl/man1/vim.1.gz
               editor.fr.ISO8859-1.1.gz /usr/share/man/fr.ISO8859-1/man1/vim.1.gz

DIAGNOSTICS

       With  --verbose  update-alternatives  chatters incessantly about
       its activities on its  standard  output  channel.   If  problems
       occur,   update-alternatives   outputs  error  messages  on  its
       standard error channel and returns an exit status of  2.   These
       diagnostics  should be self-explanatory; if you do not find them
       so, please report this as a bug.

EXAMPLES

       There  are  several  packages  which  provide  a   text   editor
       compatible  with  vi, for example nvi and vim. Which one is used
       is controlled by the link group vi, which includes links for the
       program itself and the associated manpage.

       To  display  the  available  packages  which  provide vi and the
       current setting for it, use the --display action:

              update-alternatives --display vi

       To choose a particular vi implementation, use  this  command  as
       root and then select a number from the list:

              update-alternatives --config vi

       To go back to having the vi implementation chosen automatically,
       do this as root:

              update-alternatives --auto vi

BUGS

       If you find a bug,  please  report  it  using  the  Debian  bug-
       tracking system.

       If   you   find   any   discrepancy  between  the  operation  of
       update-alternatives and this manual page, it is a bug, either in
       the implementation or the documentation; please report it.

AUTHORS

       Copyright (C) 1995 Ian Jackson
       Copyright (C) 2009 Raphael Hertzog

       This  is  free  software;  see  the  GNU  General Public Licence
       version 2 or later for copying conditions. There is NO WARRANTY.

       This manual page is copyright  1997,1998  Charles  Briscoe-Smith
       and others.

       This  is  free documentation; see the GNU General Public Licence
       version 2 or later for copying conditions. There is NO WARRANTY.

SEE ALSO

       ln(1), FHS, the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard.