Aptitude wants to remove "ubuntu-desktop"

Derek Broughton news at pointerstop.ca
Tue Apr 18 14:00:25 UTC 2006

Francisco Borges wrote:

> » On Tue, Apr 18, 2006 at 02:18PM +1000, Peter Garrett wrote:
>> I think Derek is right. This seems like a regression from the expected
>> behaviour. I don't recall Debian requiring this kind of thing.

Thanks for the support :-)
> I think you two are missing the point. But before I make my point I will
> annoy you a bit ;-)

I don't think so...

>> How exactly is a user supposed to know this anyway? Chanting mantras
>> about reading the wiki won't help a user who doesn't even know the
>> wiki exists ( or in fact what a wiki *is* ).

I see ubuntu-desktop STILL says: "It is safe to remove this package..." in
the package description.  I filed a bug about this about a year ago. 
Either it should NOT say that or developers should stop telling us that we
_should_ keep the *-desktop packages installed.
> I guess the user should raise his eye browns and think twice, when
> aptitude tries to remove *-desktop ;-)

Sure, he should - and most users do.  We regularly see "I wanted to remove
X, but apt said it was going to remove ..." - after all, that's what
started this thread.  However, once I agree to remove *-desktop, that's my

> I also guess the user should 
> understand that, for better or worse, he is using a debian based distro
> and *not* debian.

That's not really apropos.  It's still the debian package system, and if
anything breaks without *-desktop it's _purely_ because the package was
built without proper dependencies.

> All of that said, I must say that I *guess* the reason they tell you to
> install *-desktop is to allow them to install **new** desktop related
> packages through release upgrades.

Fine.  And if that's the only issue (and I really think it is) then I can
safely ignore these dire warnings to reinstall the desktop package.  I'll
find those fancy new feature by myself, thanks.  

> Optimally, there should be some "soft" dependency scheme, which is what
> I think what "suggests" was supposed to mean, except that I never saw
> "suggests" working in any meaningful way.

"suggests" is so soft it's squishy :-)  "Recommends" is something like that,
in so far as aptitude installs those by default.  Too bad you can't tell it
you don't want the recommends for a single package (I tried to install
eclipse with just the full dependencies, and aptitude tried to remove every
other "recommends" package).
> Or what they could do would be to have meta-packages inside *-desktop,
> for common apps, allowing you to replace them, say:

I've suggested that before.  Specifically, pre-dapper ubuntu-desktop
depended on postfix instead of "postfix | mail-transfer-agent".  That's
moot now, but I'm sure there are plenty of other examples. Wherever
possible, ubuntu-desktop should suggest an optimal choice of dependency but
not force it when there are equivalent alternatives.  The reason I
originally had to remove kubuntu-desktop was that I refused to run postfix
when all I needed was masqmail.

> kubuntu-desktop installs "mailer" and that by default installs "kmail",
> but "mailer" is also provided by "mutt", so I could install mutt and
> remove kmail and still have kubuntu-desktop. This would be possible,
> except for a "default" choice for these meta-packages, which I don't if
> it's possible or not.

Indeed: a dependency of "kmail | mail-reader" would work right now - with
absolutely no modifications needed to mutt or kmail, since both
provide "mail-reader" (and "imap-client", for that matter).  

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