DEBIAN PACKAGE POPULARITY CONTEST - Avery Pennarun <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This package contains a script, /usr/sbin/popularity-contest, which
generates a list of the packages installed on your system, in order of
most-recently-used to least-recently-used. The simplest way to use this
information is to help clean up your hard drive by removing unused packages.
popularity-contest | grep '<OLD>'
will show you a list of packages you haven't used in a while. Note that
this output isn't totally accurate: some packages appear "old" but you can't
remove them because other (non-old) packages depend on them. Shared library
packages are particularly bad this way because it's impossible to tell when
a library was last used.
The popularity-contest output looks like this:
POPULARITY-CONTEST-0 TIME:914183330 ID:b92a5fc1809d8a95a12eb3a3c84166dd
914183333 909868335 grep /bin/fgrep
914183333 909868280 findutils /usr/bin/find
914183330 909885698 dpkg-awk /usr/bin/dpkg-awk
914183330 909868577 gawk /usr/bin/gawk
The first and last lines allow you to put more than one set of
popularity-contest results into a single file and then split them up
The rest of the lines are package entries, one line for each package
installed on your system. They have the format:
<atime> <ctime> <package-name> <mru-program> <tag>
<package-name> is the name of the Debian package that contains <mru-program>.
<mru-program> is the most recently used program, static library, or header
(.h) file in the package.
<atime> and <ctime> are the access time and creation time of the
<mru-program> on your disk, respectively, represented as the number of
seconds since midnight GMT on January 1, 1970 (i.e. in Unix time_t format).
Linux updates <atime> whenever you open the file; <ctime> was set when you
first installed the package.
<tag> is determined by popularity-contest depending on <atime>, <ctime>, and
the current date. <tag> can be RECENT-CTIME, OLD, or NOFILES.
RECENT-CTIME means that atime is very close to ctime; it's impossible to
tell whether the package was used recently or not, since <atime> is also
updated when <ctime> is set. Normally, this happens because you have
recently upgraded the package to a new version, resetting the <ctime>.
OLD means that the <atime> is more than a month ago; you haven't used the
package for more than a month.
NOFILES means that no files in the package seemed to be programs, so
<atime>, <ctime>, and <mru-program> are invalid.
PARTICIPATING IN THE PUBLIC SURVEY
You can help out the Debian Project by sending your popularity-contest
results to us anonymously. With information from enough people, we can
determine which packages are most often used, which are often installed but
not used, and which are nearly never used. That way, we can help people
make decisions about which packages should fit on the first Debian install
CD, for example, or which packages are most important for an FTP mirror site
SECURITY NOTE: it's impossible to make a submission completely anonymous,
since Internet servers tend to add headers and log messages along the way.
Our receiver program at debian throws away this information as soon as
possible so no one will see it, but if you're really paranoid you might not
want to participate.
The popularity-contest package comes with a cron task to send the
information out to us each week. You can change where the submissions go
by editing /etc/popularity-contest.conf. Normally, you will send the
The result of the survey is available at
You can find some sample analysis scripts in
/usr/share/doc/popularity-contest as part of this package.
There are several projects trying to count users and machines. First and
foremost is the Linux Counter at http://counter.li.org/. It tries to
estimate the amount of Linux users worldwide.
There are some popcon installations for other distributions:
The package supports preseeding during installation to change the URL
used to submit reports. The template name is
'popularity-contest/submiturls', and it expects one or more space
separated URLs to use when submitting.
Please look at the FAQ in /usr/share/doc/popularity-contest/FAQ
or for an up-to-date version, online at http://popcon.debian.org/FAQ
FINDING THE SOURCE
This package is being maintained in Subversion using Alioth. The project summary
page is available from <URL:https://alioth.debian.org/projects/popcon/>.
The project home page is at <URL:http://popcon.alioth.debian.org/>.
Report bugs into the Debian Bug Tracking System. See
<URL:http://bugs.debian.org/> for instructions. If you want to get in
touch with the popularity contest maintainers, send an email to