Re: To dselect or aptitude, that is the question

From: Joey Hess (
Date: 04/21/04

  • Next message: Bill Moseley: "Re: 2.6.5 Upgrade Notes"
    Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 22:27:12 -0400
    To: Debian-User <>

    J.S.Sahambi wrote:
    > I have been using apt and dselect for some time. Can any body tell me
    > about the advantages/disadvantages of dselect and aptitude? and which is
    > better?

    Nine reasons why you should be using aptitude instead of apt-get or dselect.

    1. aptitude can look just like apt-get

       If you run 'aptitude update' or 'aptitude upgrade' or 'aptitude
       install', it looks and works just like apt-get, with a few enhancements.
       So there is no learning curve.

       (If you're a dselect user, learning curve is obviously not one of your

    2. aptitude tracks automatically installed packages

       Stop worrying about pruning unused libraries and support packages from
       your system. If you use aptitude to install everything, it will keep
       track of what packages are pulled in by dependencies alone, and remove
       those packages when they are no longer needed.

    3. aptitude sanely handles recommends

       A long-standing failure of apt-get has been its lack of support for
       the Recommends relationship. Which is a problem because many packages
       in Debian rely on Recommends to pull in software that the average user
       generally uses with the package. This is a not uncommon cause of
       trouble, even though apt-get recently became able to at least mention
       recommended packages, it's easy to miss its warnings.

       Aptitude supports Recommends by default, and can be confgigured to
       support Suggests too. It even supports installing recommended packages
       when used in command-line mode.

    4. use aptitude as a normal user and avoid hosing your system

       Maybe you didn't know that you can run aptitude in gui mode as a regular
       user. Make any changes you'd like to try out. If you get into a real
       mess, you can hit 'q' and exit, your changes will not be saved.
       (Aptitude also lets you use ctrl-u to undo changes.) Since it's running
       as a normal user, you cannot hose your system until you tell aptitude to
       do something, at which point it will prompt you for your root password.

    5. aptitude has a powerful UI and searching capabilities

       Between aptitude's categorical browser and its great support for
       mutt-style filtering and searching of packages by name, description,
       maintainer, dependencies, etc, you should be able to find packages
       faster than ever before using aptitude.

    6. aptitude makes it easy to keep track of obsolete software

       If Debian stops distributing a package, apt will leave it on your system
       indefinitly, with no warnings, and no upgrades. Aptitude lists such
       packages in its "Obsolete and Locally Created Packages" section, so you
       can be informed of the problem and do something about it.

    7. aptitude has an interface to the Debian task system

       Aptitude lets you use Debian's task system as it was designed to be
       used. You can browse the available tasks, select a task for install, and
       then dig into it and de-select parts of the task that you don't want.
       apt-get has no support for tasks, and aptitude is better even than
       special purpose tools like tasksel.

    8. aptitude supports multiple sources

       If your sources.list is configured to make multiple versions of a
       package available, aptitude lets you drill down to see the available
       versions and pick a non-default version to install. If a package breaks
       in unstable, just roll it back to the version in testing.

    9. aptitude logs its actions

       Aptitude logs package it installs, upgrades, and removes to
       /varlog/aptitude, which can be useful to work out why things started
       breaking after yesterday's upgrade, or when you removed a partiticlar

    see shy jo

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