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Martin F. Krafft Open Source Press / No Starch Press ISBN 3-937514-07-4 / 1-593270-69-0
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Prefer aptitude over apt-get (for dist-upgrades) (page 181)

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Reported on: 2005-07-18

In chapter 5. The Debian package management system on page 181:

Chapter 5.4 introduces APT, and the Debian way of installing, removing, and upgrading packages. The traditional front-end to APT, apt-get, may in the future be replaced by aptitude, which implements most of the command-line options of apt-get (see p. 195f) and is thus a viable drop-in replacement. The sarge release notes recommend using aptitude instead of apt-get, as it "makes safer decisions about package installations than running apt-get directly."

Discussion

A system upgrade from woody to sarge would thus look like this (the -P option forces aptitude to always prompt for confirmation, which is a good thing on something as important as a system upgrade):

~# aptitude -P dist-upgrade
[...]
The following NEW packages will be automatically installed:
  coreutils cpp-3.3 debconf-i18n dselect e2fslibs g++-3.3 gcc-3.3
  [...]
[...]
The following packages will be upgraded:
  apt apt-utils aptitude base-files base-passwd bash binutils bsdmainutils
  [...]
66 packages upgraded, 35 newly installed, 1 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 50.7MB of archives. After unpacking 65.9MB will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n/e/d/v/action/?] y
Writing extended state information... Done
Get:1 http://debian.ethz.ch sarge/main libdb1-compat 2.1.3-7 [30.8kB]
[...]
Reading Package Lists... Done
Building Dependency Tree
Reading extended state information... Done

While this recommendation applies mainly to distribution upgrades (dist-upgrade), aptitude's improved handling of dependencies may cause it to replace the antiquated apt-get interface in the long run. As aptitude is reasonably syntax-compatible to apt-get on the command line, it is trivially possible to simply use it instead, and almost all of APT's concepts will continue to apply.

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