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Re: first draft "aptitude howto"

Here's my input.  It is written from the perspective of someone who has
never even run aptitude -- but that should be okay, since that is your
target audience.  :)

On Tue, Mar 28, 2000 at 12:32:39AM +0200, Bernd Eckenfels wrote:
> aptitude
> (c) Copyright 2000, Bernd Eckenfels, Germany

Please don't assert copyright without including a license.

> aptitude is a front-end to apt and dpkg, the Debian GNU/Linux Package
> Management tools. It tries to provide a nice user interface to every-day
> package management on Debian GNU/Linux Systems.

Given the fact that we support the Hurd as well, it might be more accurate
to start migrating to just saying "Debian systems".

> You can start aptitude as non root (for example if you want to look for a
> package or see a list of new packages, but you can only use it as root to
> actually change the state of packages on your system.

s/non root/non-root/

Unmatched parenthesis.

Misleading wording as well; I suggest "but to actually change the state of
packages on your system, you must start aptitude as root."

> Aptitude is started from the command line in a console window or xterm with
> the command "aptitude".

I would drop the "in a console window or xterm".  The command line is the
command line.  In fact, it would be even more accurate to say "the shell
prompt".  Furthermore, if aptitude registers itself in the Debian menu
system, it could even be invoked without typing its name.  :)

Also, at this point I would describe the sections that appear:

"Upon startup, aptitude will present you with a list of categories into
which packages are sorted.  Not all categories may be present."

> New Packages
> Installed Packages
> Not Installed Packages
> Upgradeable Packages
> Virtual Packages

The first thing to know about any program is how to to quit it -- you can
use the 'q' ("quit") key from this initial screen to quit aptitude.

> Aptitude uses APT's cache of available packages. This means you have to
> configure /etc/apt/source.list like you are used from "apt-get". With the
> 'u' key you ask aptitude to retransmit the lists of available packages from
> different sources.

Please case "apt" consistently.  Given existing practice, I think
downcasing it all the time is appropriate, but Jason Gunthorpe is the real
authority on this subject.


"Therefore, apt's source repository file, /etc/apt/sources.list, must be
correct and up-to-date.  Use the 'u' ("update") command to instruct
aptitude to retrieve the available package lists from the sites listed in
the source repository."

> If there is a new package present, it will be grouped unter "New Packages".
> To tell aptitude, that it should remeber all new packages as seen, you tell
> it 'f' to forget.

The grammar here could be cleaned up a bit.

"If there are new packages present (in other words, Debian packages that
did not exist the last time package lists were retrieved), they will be
grouped under 'New Packages'.  To instruct aptitude to disregard the
packages' new status and sort them with the rest of the available
packages, you can use the 'f' command ("forget that packages are new").

> You can open each of this sections by ,oving the cursor to the line and
> pressing enter. Subsections for the different trees in debian package
> archives will be visible.

You can open each of the categories by moving the cursor to its line and
pressing enter.  Subsections for the different trees in Debian package
archives will become visible.

(Can you expand the subsections by pressing enter, or are the packages
listed on this screen, indented under the sections, or what?)

> If you have a packe selected, you will get information about it in the
> status line. The 'i' key will show the information/description of the
> package, the <enter> key a more complete information about the debian
> package system values for this package. To leave the information screens,
> you can use the 'q' key. Within the main tree, the 'q' key will quit the
> program.

If you have a package selected, information about it will be shown in the
status line at the bottom (?) of the screen.  Press 'i' ("information") to
display some descriptive information about the package, or enter for a full
report about the package.  Use 'q' ("quit") to get out of the information

> In the "Not Installed Packages" or in the "New Packages", or even in the
> Dpendencies of installed pacages, you can use the "+" key to mark a package
> for installation. You can also use the "-" key on a intalled package to mark
> it for removal.

Packages that are not presently installed (in the "New Packages" or "Not
Installed Packages" categories) may be selected for installation with the
"+" ("add package") key.

> Packages which are upgradeable can be put on hold with the '-' key, so their
> desired state is downgraded from "upgrade" to "hold". If you press the '-'
> key once more, they are even deleted. To purge a package instead of deleting
> it (purging will remove all data, especially the config files, too) you use
> the '_' key.

Packages that are installed (in the "Installed Packages" or "Upgradeable
Packages" categories) may be placed on hold, removed, or purged.  Placing a
package on hold means that it is kept at the currently installed version
even if a newer version is available.  Removing a package deletes it from
the system -- but system-specific configuration information about the
package is kept for reference in case the package is re-installed later.
Purging a package removes every trace of it from the system, including its
configuration information.

Pressing the '-' ("remove package") key places upgradeable packages on
hold, and marks installed packages for removeable.  Pressing '-' again on a
held package marks it for removal.  Pressing the '_' ("purge package") key
marks a package for purge.

(Remark: I think I would find the overloading of the '-' key confusing.
Please consider using a different key for hold operations.  'h' seems
intuitive but might be pressed by novices as an attempt to get help.  '!'
seems like another possible candidate for hold, a la "Stop!"  "Wait!"
"Achtung!" :) )

> If you made your selections (which action should be taken on which package
> with "+", "-", "_") you press the 'g'o key. Another screen will list you all
> desred options (which packages will be updated, which installed and which
> deleted. You can  make changes there, too. While pressing 'q' will get you
> back to the main tree, pressing 'g' a second time will actiate the
> installation/download/deleting of packages.

Once you have marked packages of interest with the desired actions, use the
'g' ("go") key to put the package manager to work.  A confirmation screen
will be displayed that summarizes the actions to be taken.  You can use the
same operation keys here that you did on the main screen, in the event you
made a mistake or change your mind.  From this confirmation screen,
pressing 'q' ("quit") returns you to the main screen, and 'g' ("go") a
second time invokes the apt program and sets about putting your system's
packages in the desired state.

> Additional Keys in aptitude include '/' for searching, 'home', 'end',
> 'up', and 'down' for navigation.

(As a die hard vi user, I suggest making 'j' and 'k' also perform
navigation operations as well.  :) )

> NOTE: with aptitude 0.0.4a (included in potato) you will find it confusing if
> you dont have support for colors in your term, since:

What kind of Luddite would use a terminal type that didn't support color?

> (todo: find the right names for those colors :)
> white  = normal
> red    = broken
> green  = install
> turkis = remove

Do these reflect current status, or the desired action to be taken?

I don't know what "turkis" means; I guess I'll have to try aptitude out to
learn.  :)

> bl n wh= hold


> cyan   = update (same as green but alrady installed).
> Also in the 0.0.4a version a split screen view with package details and a
> key help menu is missing.

It would really suck to ship without a help screen.  Dark might be
persuaded to let in such a documentation-only revision.

G. Branden Robinson            |
Debian GNU/Linux               |         kernel panic -- causal failure
branden@ecn.purdue.edu         |         universe will now reboot
roger.ecn.purdue.edu/~branden/ |

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