[NCLUG] apt-get questions

Eric Schwartz emschwar at debian.org
Thu Jan 16 12:50:15 MST 2003

On Thu, 2003-01-16 at 12:00, marciot at holly.colostate.edu wrote:
> 1) What's the best front-end to "apt-get"? Right now I am using 
> "synaptic", which is awesome (especially with the retro NeXTStep 
> look), but it does lack a few handy features, such as a file list
> for installed packages ("dpkg -L"). 
> Are there any front-ends out there that are more complete?

Aptitude is an ncurses front-end that has a top-level display that
gives you the option to view New package, Upgradeable Packages, Instaled
Packages, Not Installed Packages, among others.  And then of course
there's dselect, but I find that by and large, I don't need it.

Honestly, I suspect that the more familiar you are with dpkg and apt,
you will probably find you don't really need a front end like dselect or
aptitude (or synaptic, which I've never used).

> 2) How frequently are Debian packages updated? Are the package 
> versions tied to the current stable release (like, Woody), or do they 
> get upgraded independently of the releases? I'm sort of used to 
> Gentoo, where packages get upgraded whenever their developers feel 
> like it, and you get new packages on a daily basis. With Debian, does 
> it make sense to check for updates every week (day, hour... whatever),
> or am I just wasting my time?

Generally, if you're running a stable release (such as woody), the
packages aren't changed except for security fixes.  You do have
security.d.o in your /etc/apt/sources.list file, don't you?  As for
that, you can subscribe to the debian-security-announce mailing list to
view all the DSAs (Debian Security Advisories) that get posted.

If you're running testing or unstable, it can't hurt to log onto
irc.debian.org, channel #debian, and see if anybody knows of good
reasons not to upgrade certain packages, or subscribe to the
debian-devel mailing list and track that.  I'm often reckless, and just
do a mass upgrade anyway, but I've gotten bit by that a few times.
As for frequency, whenever the mood strikes me (maybe once a week or

Running gentoo strikes me a lot like running debian unstable; the main
differences are that Debian supports a lot more architectures, and we
have lintian. :)

Eric Schwartz <emschwar at debian.org>
Debian GNU/Linux Software Project

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