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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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6.2.3 aptitude

aptitude is a new menu-driven package installer similar to dselect but built from scratch on top of APT. It can be used as an alternative to apt-get for most commands. See aptitude(1) and /usr/share/doc/aptitude/README.

Once you start using aptitude it is best to continue using it rather than alternative methods of installing packages; otherwise you lose the advantage of aptitude keeping track of which packages you have deliberately installed.

aptitude in full screen mode accepts single-key commands which are usually lowercase. Notable key strokes are:

     Keystroke   Action
     F10         Menu
     ?           Help for keystroke (complete listing)
     u           Update package archive information
     +           Mark the package to be upgraded or newly installed
     -           Mark the package to be removed (keep config)
     _           Mark the package to be purged (remove config)
     =           Place the package on hold
     U           Mark all upgradable packages to be upgraded
     g           Download and install selected packages
     q           Quit current screen and save changes
     x           Quit current screen and discard changes
     Enter       View information about a package
     C           View a package's changelog
     l           Change the limit for the displayed packages
     /           Search for the first match
     \           Repeat the last search

Like apt-get, aptitude installs packages upon which a selected package Depends. aptitude also offers the option to pull in packages that a to-be-installed package Recommends or Suggests. You can change the default behavior by choosing F10 -> Options -> Dependency handling in its menu.

Other advantages of aptitude are:

  • aptitude offers access to all versions of a package.

  • aptitude logs its actions in /var/log/aptitude.

  • aptitude makes it easy to keep track of obsolete software by listing under "Obsolete and Locally Created Packages".

  • aptitude includes a fairly powerful system for searching particular packages and limiting the package display. Users familiar with mutt will pick up quickly, as mutt was the inspiration for the expression syntax. See "SEARCHING, LIMITING, AND EXPRESSIONS" in /usr/share/doc/aptitude/README.

  • aptitude in full screen mode has su functionality embedded and can be run from normal user until you really need administrative privileges.

Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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