Using apt-get [Was:Re: tool used to download packages?]

Joe Hart j.hart at
Thu Feb 8 09:31:46 UTC 2007

James Heaver wrote:
>     I'm not one of the developers, but I can say why automatix and
>     easy-ubuntu are frowned upon by so many.  They install software from
>     third party repositories.  They also use apt-get, which while a fine
>     tool, does not track the dependencies that get installed, so removing
>     the apps will not remove the dependencies.
> I've been installing most software (any specific program I find) using 
> 'apt-get install whatever'. 
> Does this mean I shouldn't have been doing that?
> All instructions for things I see seem to give you an apt-get line to run...

Thanks for changing the topic.  This title makes more sense.

It's not that apt-get it wrong.  It's the fact that apt-get doesn't 
track dependencies.  Take a look at this link:

It explains the differences in detail.  Aptitude looks quite strange if 
you've never seen it before.  If you run it without giving any 
parameters and you get a text-based screen similar to Synaptic, but much 
more cryptic.

However, aptitude accepts parameters that are the same as apt-get, so 
instead of apt-get install foo, you can do aptitude install foo.  If 
later you do aptitude remove foo, all the other files that belong with 
foo and are not being used by other programs will also be removed.

Another difference, is that if you notice, you'll sometimes (usually) 
see that when you do a apt-get install foo, dpkg (the engine behind apt) 
will tell you that foo recommends bar, but it won't offer you the chance 
to install bar with foo.  Frequently the recommends list will scroll off 
your screen before you even get a chance to see it.  Aptitude when run 
as a command by itself defaults to installing bar along with foo, 
because it is recommended.  You can of course choose not to install bar, 
but usually the other packages are recommended for a reason.

I know I make it sound a bit confusing to new users.  The bottom line is 
just instead of doing:

sudo apt-get install whatever


sudo aptitude install whatever

Does this make sense?

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