Bonus: Solving the line mystery

I spent way too much time on this. Apparently, in Debian the line command I mentioned a day or two ago is installed as part of util-linux.

And yet on my Arch machine, there is no such command, either packaged as part of util-linux or elsewhere. Both pacman -Qo line and pacman -Ql util-linux showed nothing related to line, and even a brutish find / -iname "*line*" came up with nothing relevant.

As it turns out, line is part of the source for util-linux, but is enabled through a configure flag.

kmandla@lv-r1fz6: ~/downloads/util-linux-2.24$ ./configure --help | grep line
  --enable-line           build line

Even Wikipedia notes it as “legacy,” and the github notes call it “useless.” Rather sad. 😦

Regardless, double-checking the PKGFILE for util-linux, it’s not enabled in Arch. I’m not sure exactly what corresponds to a PKGFILE in Debian, but the patch tracker for util-linux 2.20 shows that flag enabled.

+CONFOPTS= --enable-raw --enable-rdev --with-slang --enable-ddate --enable-line

So there you have it. Case closed. I can take off my deerstalker now. If I put this much time and effort into every program on my list, this silly blog would be a lifetime’s project. 😯

The moral of the story? Always check Wikipedia first. No wait, that can’t be the moral. … 🙄

3 thoughts on “Bonus: Solving the line mystery

  1. Curtis

    The build scripts in Arch Linux are PKGBUILDs. I don’t know what the equivalent is in Debian, as I am pretty sure that creating *.deb packages is a much more complicated process.

    You should install and use pkgfile (which is a utility in Arch). This will enable you to search for files that are in the repositories but not installed on your system. Thus, you could have simply done ‘pkgfile line’ and immediately have known that it was not included in any official Arch package.

  2. thisnameisfalse


    In my previous comment about line(1) (binary and manpage), I did not report that my system is Slackware 14.0. Different distros, different decisions 😉

    line(1) compilation in Slackware is forced in ./configure script, please see ‘–enable-line’ modifier in

    Nevertheless, you have already pointed that line(1) is deprecated, head(1) should be used.

    Very interesting investigation. Waiting more in 2014!!

  3. Pingback: pkgfile: And pacman, for Archers only | Inconsolation

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