This program is a menu-driven interface to the Debian package management
system. It is particularly useful for first-time installations. Some users
might feel more comfortable using
aptitude which is also
dselect for large-scale upgrades. For more
aptitude please see
guide the user as he/she chooses among packages to install or remove, ensuring
that no packages are installed that conflict with one another, and that all
packages required to make each package work properly are installed;
warn the user about inconsistencies or incompatibilities in their selections;
determine the order in which the packages must be installed;
automatically perform the installation or removal; and
guide the user through whatever configuration process are required for each
dselect begins by presenting the user with a menu of 7 items, each
of which is a specific action. The user can select one of the actions by using
the arrow keys to move the highlighter bar, then pressing the
<enter> key to select the highlighted action.
What the user sees next depends on the action he selected. If he selects any
option but Access or Select, then
dselect will simply proceed to execute the specified action: e.g.,
if the user selected the action Remove, then dselect would proceed
to remove all of the files selected for removal when the user last chose the
Both the Access menu item and the Select menu item
lead to additional menus. In both cases, the menus are presented as split
screens; the top screen gives a scrollable list of choices, while the bottom
screen gives a brief explanation ("info") for each choice.
Extensive on-line help is available, use the '?' key to get to a help screen
at any time.
The order in which the actions are presented in the first
menu represents the order in which a user would normally choose
dselect to install packages. However, a user can pick any of the
main menu choices as often as needed (including not at all, depending on what
one wants to do).
Begin by choosing an Access Method. This is the method by
which the user plans on accessing Debian packages; e.g., some users have Debian
packages available on CD-ROM, while others plan to fetch them using anonymous
FTP. The selected "Access Method" is stored after
dselect exits, so if it does not change, then this option need not
be invoked again.
Then Update the list of available packages. To do this,
dselect reads the file "Packages.gz" which should be
included in the top level of the directory where the Debian packages to be
installed are stored. (But if it is not there,
dselect will offer
to make it for you.)
Select specific packages for installation on his system.
After choosing this menu item, the user is first presented with a full screen
of help (unless the `--expert' command line option was used). Once the user
exits the Help screen, he sees the split-screen menu for choosing packages to
install (or remove).
The top part of the screen is a relatively narrow window into the list of
Debian's 15400 packages; the bottom part of the screen contains description of
the package or group of packages which are highlighted above.
One can specify which packages should be operated on by highlighting a package
name or the label for a group of packages. After that, you can select
- to be installed:
This is accomplished by pressing the `+' key.
- to be deleted:
Packages can be deleted two ways:
removed: this removes most of the files associated with the package, but
preserves the files listed as configuration files (see What is a Debian conffile?, Section
6.5) and package configuration information. This is done by pressing the
purged: this removes every file that is part of the package. This is
done by pressing the `_' key.
Note that it's not possible to remove "All Packages". If you try
that, your system will instead be reduced to the initial installed base
- to be put "on hold"
This is done by pressing `=', and it effectively tells
to upgrade a package even if the version currently installed on your system is
not as recent as the version that is available in the Debian repository you are
using (this was specified when you set the Access Method, and
acquired when you used Update).
Just like you can put a package on hold, you can reverse such setting by
pressing `:'. That tells
dselect that the package(s) may be
upgraded if a newer version is available. This is the default setting.
You can select a different order in which the packages are presented, by using
the `o' key to cycle between various options for sorting the packages. The
default order is to present packages by Priority; within each priority,
packages are presented in order of the directory (a.k.a. section) of the
archive in which they are stored. Given this sort order, some packages in
section A (say) may be presented first, followed by some packages in section B,
followed by more packages (of lower priority) in section A.
You can also expand meanings of the labels at the top of the screen, by using
the `v' (verbose) key. This action pushes much of the text that formerly fit
onto the display off to the right. To see it, press the right arrow; to scroll
back to the left, press the left arrow.
If you select a package for installation or removal, e.g.,
foo.deb, and that package depends on (or recommends) another
dselect will place the
you in a sub-screen of the main selection screen. There you can choose among
the related packages, accepting the suggested actions (to install or not), or
rejecting them. To do the latter, press Shift-D; to return to the former,
press Shift-U. In any case, you can save your selections and return to the
main selection screen by pressing Shift-Q.
Users returning to the main menu can then select the "Install" menu
item to unpack and configure the selected packages. Alternatively, users
wishing to remove files can choose the "Remove" menu item. At any
point, users can choose "Quit" to exit dselect; users' selections are