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Petter Reinholdtsen ddc252305b Typo. 17 years ago
debian Typo. 17 years ago
FAQ Mention the new debconf answer. 17 years ago
README Add info in README about the linux counter. (Closes: #259004) 17 years ago
README.examples README.examples: update to reflect current arrangement. 18 years ago
default.conf * Add support for reporting using http POST. 17 years ago Update warning to match code. 18 years ago
popcon-largest-unused Report error in popcon-largest-unused if /var/log/popularity-contest 19 years ago Make it easier to change the directotry structure. 17 years ago, Change the interface to avoid use of xargs 18 years ago
popcon-submit-ubuntu.cgi * Add support for reporting using http POST. 17 years ago
popcon-submit.cgi * Add support for reporting using http POST. 17 years ago
popcon-upload Improve timeout message. 17 years ago
popcon-upload-ubuntu * Add support for reporting using http POST. 17 years ago Generate more standard-compliant HTML. 18 years ago
popularity-contest Rewrite popularity-contest to use dpkg-awk if dpkg-query is missing, to 17 years ago Rewrite in perl. 19 years ago



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.

For example,
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
[...more lines...]

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
easily later.

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.


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
to keep.


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
results to:

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 It tries
to estimate the amount of Linux users worldwide. Second, we are aware
of a separate popcon installation at Ubuntu,,
receiving information about the ubuntu users. We are sure there are


Please look at the FAQ in /usr/share/doc/popularity-contest/FAQ
or for an up-to-date version, online at


This package is being maintained in CVS using Alioth. The project summary
page is available from <URL:>.
The project home page is at <URL:>.


Report bugs into the Debian Bug Tracking System. See
<URL:> for instructions. If you want to get in
touch with the popularity contest maintainers, send an email to