Aptitude

Launching Aptitude with no command-line options, will give you a menu-driven, text-based front-end to the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) system. Many of the common package management functions, such as installation, removal, and upgrade, can be performed in Aptitude with single-key commands, which are typically lowercase letters.

Aptitude is best suited for use in a non-graphical terminal environment to ensure proper functioning of the command keys. You may start the menu-driven interface of Aptitude as a normal user by typing the following command at a terminal prompt:

sudo aptitude

When Aptitude starts, you will see a menu bar at the top of the screen and two panes below the menu bar. The top pane contains package categories, such as New Packages and Not Installed Packages. The bottom pane contains information related to the packages and package categories.

Using Aptitude for package management is relatively straightforward, and the user interface makes common tasks simple to perform. The following are examples of common package management functions as performed in Aptitude:

  • Install Packages: To install a package, locate the package via the Not Installed Packages package category, by using the keyboard arrow keys and the ENTER key. Highlight the desired package, then press the + key. The package entry should turn green, indicating that it has been marked for installation. Now press g to be presented with a summary of package actions. Press g again, and downloading and installation of the package will commence. When finished, press ENTER, to return to the menu.

  • Remove Packages: To remove a package, locate the package via the Installed Packages package category, by using the keyboard arrow keys and the ENTER key. Highlight the desired package you wish to remove, then press the - key. The package entry should turn pink, indicating it has been marked for removal. Now press g to be presented with a summary of package actions. Press g again, and removal of the package will commence. When finished, press ENTER, to return to the menu.

  • Update Package Index: To update the package index, simply press the u key. Updating of the package index will commence.

  • Upgrade Packages: To upgrade packages, perform the update of the package index as detailed above, and then press the U key to mark all packages with updates. Now press g whereby you'll be presented with a summary of package actions. Press g again, and the download and installation will commence. When finished, press ENTER, to return to the menu.

The first column of information displayed in the package list in the top pane, when actually viewing packages lists the current state of the package, and uses the following key to describe the state of the package:

  • i: Installed package

  • c: Package not installed, but package configuration remains on system

  • p: Purged from system

  • v: Virtual package

  • B: Broken package

  • u: Unpacked files, but package not yet configured

  • C: Half-configured - Configuration failed and requires fix

  • H: Half-installed - Removal failed and requires fix

To exit Aptitude, simply press the q key and confirm you wish to exit. Many other functions are available from the Aptitude menu by pressing the F10 key.

Command Line Aptitude

You can also use Aptitude as a command-line tool, similar to apt. To install the nmap package with all necessary dependencies, as in the apt example, you would use the following command:

sudo aptitude install nmap
To remove the same package, you would use the command:
sudo aptitude remove nmap
Consult the man pages for more details of command line options for Aptitude.