Use apt-file to find a package that provides a program

If you're looking for a program and need to find a package that provides it, AND your package manager is APT (e.g. you're running Debian or one of its many derivatives, like Ubuntu), you, Sir, got a couple of options.

One way is to search package contents online at, or you could use apt-file.

First, we install it and update its database:

sudo aptitude install apt-file
sudo apt-file update

Now, let's find what package provides command mimencode (since I'm looking for a program, I'll prepend the search with "bin" since that's where programs typically live):

apt-file search bin/mimencode
metamail: usr/bin/mimencode

So I'll need to install package "metamail" to get program "mimencode":

sudo aptitude install metamail
which mimencode


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