Thank You, Aptitude!

by chromatic

I've long believed that the easiest way to install software on a modern operating system is through a well-designed package manager connected to one or more carefully-maintained package repositories. Thus my brain always shudders when someone says "OH it's so EASY to install software on MACZ just drag and drop! woo!!" (Why should I have to fire up a web browser, navigate to a website, find the download link, figure out which version works with the dependencies I have installed including the OS version, pick a mirror, and then figure out where the file actually downloaded? I suppose it's likewise easy to get a Ph. D. in theoretical physics -- just walk on stage when they call your name.)

I do remember the bad old days when installing something reasonably fresh required me to trawl through looking for, if I were exceedingly lucky, an RPM built for the particular version of the particular distribution I run, or barring that an SRPM that I could coax into doing the right thing. There were still benefits to using a packaging system (mostly dependency tracking), but that's more work than I want to suggest to my parents.

I was late to Debian (my first installation was 1999), but apt-get was a clear improvement for installing and updating the entire operating system, especially when combined with the quality and breadth of packages available for Debian.

These days I use aptitude, which is even more so.

Again, I'm not sure that I would suggest that my mother make a habit of running this on the command line by herself, but she's perfectly capable of copying and pasting a few commands from an e-mail to keep her system up to date or install new software, and the process is much simpler than giving her a list of directions to navigate a web site. I doubt I'll ever catch her running aptitude search, which is fine... but I use the command frequently.

The process of installing software in such a way that it does not conflict with other software, includes dependencies in a sane fashion, and receives security updates almost automatically for the whole OS (not just the kernel, GUI, bundled web browser, and DRM-laden media player) is now something I almost don't even think about. That is the sign of a truly useful piece of software.

Thanks to the contributors to Aptitude, apt-get, dpkg, and the Debian and Ubuntu repositories.


2008-01-08 17:47:28
port and fink!

MACZ get the best of both worlds!

Leslie P. Polzer
2008-01-09 01:29:09
Thank you, Pacman!
Alan Angulo
2008-01-09 08:44:27
Fedora has something similar. This software management tool is called "yum" and can be ran from the cli or as a gui.


2008-01-09 13:01:25
Fedora has something similar. This software management tool is called "yum" and can be ran from the cli or as a gui.

Other distributions have followed debian's lead in this case. apt-get is the granddaddy of all modern package managers.

2008-01-11 09:16:01
I have told Mom to use Ubuntu's Update Manager (a lightweight alternate to Synaptic for updates only), and showed her Synaptic for when she wants that Genealogy program.
Lloyd Budd
2008-03-04 15:40:24
Unfortunately for me, aptitude is showing me attitude not aptitude.
Carlos Gili
2008-07-06 15:05:56
I must agree with chromatic aptitude is far better than other tools, I've used both YUM and Aptitude, I've even used the graphical interfaces for YUM, Yumex and Pirut, but for remote server administration.... thru an SSH connection, aptitude is far better than YUM, why?, it gives you a text based interface for administration of the packages, NO X !!!..... and you don't have to remember fancy command lines to work it out.... I still rather Fedora to Debian, why?, better hardware support, althought some libraries are older like libstdc in Fedora is 4 and in Debian is already in version 5+, but the version that uses Fedora is more stable, and therefore, more reliable for production environments... I don't like to stop my server every day because updates.... client's may complaint...