Re: dselect and a Recent Experience
From: Clive Menzies (clive_at_clivemenzies.co.uk)
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005 18:25:58 +0100 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
On (22/06/05 12:06), Martin McCormick wrote:
> In the spirit of helpfulness on this list, I want to repay
> some of the assistance I have gotten from others, here. This message
> is a warning, not a gripe. I think Linux software is astoundingly
> robust. Like anything, there are gotchas. I am not sure exactly what
> happened, but I last week trashed my system at home while doing a
> rather innocent upgrade based upon what dselect computed needed to be
> done while installing a single package. I wasn't paying attention
> closely enough because things usually work perfectly and what happened
> was that a large number of packages got removed and the system ended
> up not even being bootable. Fortunately, I do /home backups on a
> daily basis and I was even able to use a rescue disk to tar /home so I
> didn't loose data. The new version of my system now has ext3 file
> systems for everything and grub as the boot loader. the only real loss
> was time.
> Today, here at work, I was going to install bittorrent on ta
> Debian system and I used dselect to list the packages in order to find
> bittorrent. It found it and I started to install from there except I
> saw that dselect was also going to whack about the same number of
> packages here that it did when I was on my system at home. Both are
> very stable woody-installed systems. I was actually awake at the
> switch this time so I aborted the tragedy before it happened. I used
> apt-get install bittorrent since I knew I had it in the package lists
> and it appears to have worked fine and corrected the dependencies
> needed to install bittorrent.
> dselect has, for the most part worked very well so I think
> there is a possible bug somewhere to cause it to get confused as to
> what it is supposed to delete, but everyone needs to pay closer than
> usual attention to what dselect is doing if or when you use it.
I used dselect when first using Debian, for well over a year and was
reluctant to change. However, about a year ago, I encountered similar
problems and thought I'd try aptitude. There are strong views on this
list: dselect v aptitude v apt-get .... the former two are front-ends to
the latter. No doubt, someone will write why they don't like aptitude.
Having used aptitude both at the command line and through the menu, I've
found its behaviour very predictable, once you understand it. The
important thing is to use it exclusively, because it remembers what was
installed through it and will remove dependancies when you remove a
Where people encounter problems is when they use more than one package
management method. That's when aptitude suddenly tries to remove half
your system for no apparent reason.
FWIW the upgrade manual for woody -> sarge stipulates that using
aptitude is the preferred method.
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