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COINST(1) General Commands Manual COINST(1)


Coinst - computes the co-installability kernel of a package repostory


coinst [options]


coinst reads a package repository in debian format or RPM format from standard input, and computes the co-installability kernel of the repository (see below). The graph of the kernel is written in dot format to a file, and a diagnostic is written to standard output. This diagnostic consists by default of:
  • the list of equivalence classes of packages
  • the list of non-installable packages
  • the list of not co-installable pairs of packages


A set of packages is called co-installable with respect to a repository R if it can be extended to a set of packages from R that satisfies all inter-package relations (dependencies, conflicts, etc.). In particular, a package p is installable if the set {p} consisting of p only is co-installable.

This tool reduces a repository R to a much smaller one, its so-called co-installability kernel R', that behaves exactly the same as far as co-installability of package is concerned: Any set of packages P is co-installable with respect to P iff it co-installable with respect to R'. This is achieved by

  • dropping all relations that are not relevant for this purpose. For instance, dependencies that do not lead directly or indirectly to any conflicts are dropped.
  • identifying all packages that behave the same. For instance, packages that are not in conflict with any other package (even not through dependency chains) behave the same since they are co-installable together with any other co-installable set of packages, and packages that are not installable at all behave the same since they may never be part of any co-installable set of packages.

A more precise explanation can be found in the original research article underlying this tool.

The interest of computing the kernel is that it is typically orders of magnitude smaller than the original repository.


Options controlling the input

expect input in the format of a debian Packages file (default).
expect input in the format of an RPM file.
-ignore package
ignore the package named package.

Options controlling the graph output

-o file
write the graph to file instead of
include all packages in the coinstallability graph
-root p
draw only the relevant portion of the graph around package p.

Options controlling the diagnostic output

explain the list of non-installable pairs of packages.
show statistics regarding the input and output repositories

Miscellaneous options

-help, --help
show command synopsis


Reduce a current debian Packages file to its kernel:

coinst -all -o < sid_main_binary-amd64_Packages

Layout the graph:

dot -o

View the graph with dotty, or the viewer from the coinst_viewer package:

dotty coinst_viewer


Coinst has been written by Jérome Vouillôn. This manpage has been compiled by Ralf Treinen from the original coinst documentation.


The original research article decribing the algorithm behind this tool is Roberto Di Cosmo and Jérôme Vouillon, On software component co-installability, 19th ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE-19) and ESEC'11: 13rd European Software Engineering Conference (ESEC-13), Szeged, Hungary, September 5-9, 2011, pages 256-266.