What is the difference between dpkg and aptitude/apt-get?


The new book, The Debian System, goes into great and enlightening detail about that and other subjects ... I'm about half way thru it cover to cover. Will write a review when I'm at least 3/4 through. Great book, tho, for serious Debian users.


no I've never heared of deborphan, so I just settled with aptitude

So, if one were to use Aptitude to uninstall something that was installed with apt, would that still remove dependencies?

No, try deborphan for that.

I guess I have something more to add to the ongoing confusion.

Accroding to Debian Docs at


APT uses /var/lib/apt/lists/* for tracking available packages while dpkg uses /var/lib/dpkg/available. If you...
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APT is a vast project, whose original plans included a graphical interface. It is based on a library which contains the core application, and apt-get is the first front end — command-line based — which was developed within the project. apt is a second command-line based front end provided by APT which overcomes some design mistakes of apt-get.

Numerous other graphical interfaces then appeared as external projects: synaptic, aptitude (which includes both a text mode interface and a graphical one — even if not complete yet), wajig, etc. The most recommended interface, apt, is the one that we will use in the examples given in this section. Note however that apt-get and aptitude have a very similar command line syntax. When there are major differences between apt, apt-get and aptitude, these differences will be detailed.

For any work with APT, the list of available packages needs to be updated; this can be done simply through apt update. Depending on the speed of...

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Aptitude and apt-get are two of the popular tools which handle package management. Both are capable of handling all kinds of activities on packages including installation, removal, search etc. But still there are differences between both the tools which make users prefer one over the other. What are those differences that make these two tools to be considered separately is the scope of this article.

Difference Between APT and Aptitude

What is Apt

Apt or Advanced Packaging Tool is a free and open source software which gracefully handles software installation and removal. Initially it was designed for Debian’s .deb packages but it has been made compatible with RPM Package Manager.

Apt is whole command line with no GUI. Whenever invoked from command line along with specifying the name of package to be installed, it finds that package in configured list of sources specified in ‘/etc/apt/sources.list’ along with the list of dependencies for that package and...

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We regularly test Ubuntu. It is the most widely used Linux distribution and makes up for two thirds of our Linux user-base.

If you are struggling with installation, please contact our Technical Support Staff so that we can assist you.

Basic Installation

With Ubuntu 16.04, the Ubuntu Software Center does not work as expected. This means a few more steps are involved. As always, we assume your system is up to date prior to starting our steps. If you are unsure, please open a terminal by pressing

ctrl + alt + t

and run:

sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade

Our preferred installation path is with gdebi. If you do not have it installed, please install gdebi:

sudo apt-get install gdebi

Download the latest version of CrossOver from our site:


Use gdebi to install CrossOver:

sudo gdebi ~/Downloads/crossover_15.1.0-1.deb


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Aging Technogeek wrote:apt is a shortcut version of apt-get used in Ubuntu and some Ubuntu based distros like Mint. In practice, apt and apt-get are interchangeable. I use apt-get from habit, but occasionally, if I remember to, I will use apt instead.

apt is a script that acts as a front-end to apt-get, aptitude, apt-cache, dpkg and various other programs. I never use it, nor recommend it, as its manpage basically only has a bug. It literally says the following

This manpage isn't even started.

IMHO, if you are going to use the command prompt, it is better to use the programs like apt-get, apt-cache, aptitude and dpkg themselves, as they have manpages you can consult and learn from. I don't see how using apt is easier, as you can't consult the manpage for instructions. That means you use something without knowing what it is doing

Useful to have a look at the apt Python script, as it might give you some new commands to use

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Both these groups are "package managers" which greatly simplify the process of installing, updating, otherwise maintaining, and removing software. The "deb" files are for use by the "dpkg" utility that originated with the Debian distro (of which Ubuntu is a variant) and the "rpm" files are for the RedHat Package Manager, a similar but very different utility that originated with the Red Hat distribution.

Before package managers came into use, installing a new piece of software was a complicated process that turned off many non-geeks. You had to locate its source code, then compile and link that source into an executable binary file. The first attempt to do so usually resulted in a long string of error messages about missing library files -- for which you had to search, install, and repeat the process.

The package manager utilities made it possible to list all these "dependencies" within a single file that also included a description, and the ready-to-run binary program...

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tail has the -f option:

From the man page:

-f, --follow[={name|descriptor}] output appended data as the file grows; -f, --follow, and --follow=descriptor are equivalent

Thus if you type:

tail -f [path_and_name_of_logfile] - you will see the output in the terminal as the log file itself is appended to.

N.B. [path_and_name_of_logfile] is the parameter, so to give an example:

tail -f /var/log/messages

If you combine with the -n [number_of_lines] option you can start the output from the last [number_of_lines] in the file - for example

tail -n 10 -f /var/log/Xorg.0.log

Some programs will periodically change their log file, moving the old one to a new name (e.g. log.0) and starting over.

N.B. logrotate does this to log files for other programs that don't do it themselves.

tail -f will continue to follow the old file after it's renamed.

tail -F will follow the file by name, so will...

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Main Difference:

From user’s point of view, there isn’t much difference in these tools. The RPM and DEB formats are both just archive files, with some metadata attached to them. They are both equally arcane, have hardcoded install paths and only differ in subtle details. DEB files are installation files for Debian based distributions. RPM files are installation files for Red Hat based distributions. Ubuntu is based on Debian’s package manage based on APT and DPKG. Red Hat, CentOS and Fedora are based on the old Red Hat Linux package management system, RPM.



DEB is the extension of the Debian software package format and the most often used name for such binary packages. DEB was developed by Bedian


It is a package management system. The name RPM variously refers to the .rpm file format, files in this format, software packaged in such files, and the package manager itself. RPM was intended primarily for Linux...

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Best practice:

use apt-get or aptitude or Ubuntu Software Center.

Is there a difference?


The actual installation/uninstallation is always done by dpkg. Apt and other utilities ask dpkg to do its job.

dpkg can not handle dependencies automatically. You either figure out dependencies, fetch all those packages and give them to dpkg all at once, or deal with the unmet dependencies mess. Apt handles this, and that is what I believe its primary use. Apt also brings in some fancy stuff. Look at its conf files for the full details.

Barring the dependency handling, the remove commands are equivalent. The only difference is apt refuses to remove a package that others depend on, without removing them, and it can be set up to remove automatically the packages that no one else needs as a...

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