6.1 Wajig Etymology


Wajig was implemented by Graham Williams, dating back to 1995 and the early days of Linux and Debian. It has been sponsored by Togaware Pty Ltd who have been supporting open source software since the 1980’s. Wajig began as a tool to capture and remember all the different recipes for managing a GNU/Linux system. It became popular as the popularity of GNU/Linux grew and today is still in daily use by very many users world wide.

Wajig has been supported by Dirk Eddelbuettel (contributions and official Debian Maintainer uploader) and Tshepang Lekhonkhobe (maintaining and improving wajig 2010–2020). Contributions also come from users of wajig, with a special thanks to Reuben Thomas for his many suggestions and contributions. Graham resumed maintenance and development from 2020 on github.

The word jig has a couple of meanings, as Wikitionary and Webster’s 1913 Dictionary will confirm. It is a small machine or handy tool used to guide other tools. It is also a quick dance, generally an old rustic dance involving kicking and leaping, as well as a light, humorous piece of writing, especially in rhyme, a farce in verse, or a ballad. “A jig shall be clapped at, and every rhyme praised and applauded!” Adding to that, “wa” is Japanese, indicating “harmony” and “team spirit and unity.”

Wajig has evolved over nearly 30 years and was rewritten from its original shell script to be a fully fledged Python program. Its goal was to support general users and administrators alike in using and maintaining Debian and Ubuntu based systems. Thus, it captures in a single command line tool many common tasks for managing a GNU/Linux system. It is a single and more comprehensive alternative to an otherwise large suite of separate tools, starting with apt-get and apt.

Written in Python, wajig uses these traditional Debian administration and user tools including apt, apt-get, dpkg, apt-cache, wget, dselect, aptitude. Learning this variety of tools and remembering each on is challenging and not necessarily productive. Wajig unifies and simplifies many common administrative tasks.

Debian pioneered the concept of packaging free and open source software into a distribution in the 1990’s. The key development was the suite of tools called the Advanced Packaging Tool, or apt. The primary command was apt-get. More recently, the command apt has provided an update to apt-get (and apt-cache), smoothing some of the sharper edges. Indeed, the more recent apt shares many of the same goals of the much older wajig, though wajig still continues to encompass a wider set of functionality beyond package management, but not too far beyond. Indeed, wajig functionality underneath has been migrating from using apt-get to using apt where it suits.

A good review of apt-get and apt is available from It’s FOSS.

Wajig is then a front end to these various other commands.

Wajig has evolved over very many years and there’s been a supportive band of users, contributing ideas. It started as a shell script but soon pushed beyond the boundaries of sensibilities for shell programming. It was rewritten in Python soon after the emergence of Python as a newly released programming language. It is available under the GPLv3 license, allowing anyone to take it and do as they wish with the code, so long as you share your code if you share what you have done. Let’s help each other.

If you are interested in creating your own packages for Debian and Ubuntu, see Chapter 6.27.

Your donation will support ongoing availability and give you access to the PDF version of this book. Desktop Survival Guides include Data Science, GNU/Linux, and MLHub. Books available on Amazon include Data Mining with Rattle and Essentials of Data Science. Popular open source software includes rattle, wajig, and mlhub. Hosted by Togaware, a pioneer of free and open source software since 1984. Copyright © 1995-2022 Graham.Williams@togaware.com Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0