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Annoyances of aptitude (Was: Where are we now?) (Was: Bits from the RM)

Well, aptitude is certainly better than it used to be.

At least now it's keystroke-compatible with dselect.  I still find it
less useful though.  :-P

Although aptitude uses only one fewer line of screen space for the
list of packages, somehow it manages to have less information.  The
absence of priority information is unpleasant to say the least.

In trying to get it to show priorities, I discovered that the options for
changing display formats are completely cryptic; on
my machine I see:
The default grouping method for pacakge viewsr)
 The default display-limit for package views
    The display format for package views     %c%a%M %p #%v%V
   The display format for the status line    %d
   The display format for the header line    %N %n #%B %u %o

Some investigation indicates that "r)" is the end of a long
configuration line.  That and the others are eventually documented deep
in the User's Manual.  It would be nice if the default was verbose enough
that I didn't have to go all out and learn how to write my own.  :-P

When packages are selected to be installed "by default" as the
result of a manually selected package, I get to see and adjust the list
before going ahead with the download & install.  Unfortunately, I *don't*
get to see whether the packages are being selected because they are actually
depended upon, or whether they're "Recommended", or whether they're
"Suggested".  I suppose I could examine each package with 'i' *first*....

There's no easy way to get the dselect behavior of "These are recommended,
these are suggested.  Which do you want?" -- which is what I like.

Figuring out how to tell aptitude not to automatically delete "unused" packages
required reading the User Manual while knowing that this was an issue.

This is on by default, and the information about marking a package
"manually selected" or not does not immediately spring to mind as having
anything to do with whether a package is "unused" or not.

Perhaps if it said "Remove unused automatically-installed packages
automatically" ?  ;-)

The Users Manual starts with a section on the non-interactive interface.

Upon hitting 'g' without having done much, aptitude blanked out both sections
of the screen mysteriously.  I eventually figured out that I needed to
go to 'Views' and pick 'Next'.  Huh?

Under "Tasks", if 'tasksel' is uninstalled, the one and only subcategory is
"Unrecognized tasks".  Huh?

The menu is critical to dealing with many of aptitude's, um, issues.
However, you have to hit F10 to get it.  Which is usually OK, but if you're
connected through ssh from something which can't do better than a vt100
terminal, you're screwed.

Recent versions of dselect are pretty bad in this environment too
(switching into messed-up alternate character sets) but it used to work.

Eventually I found aptitude's "Dselect" theme, which helped some.

I guess aptitude could be made the recommended default package manager,
but I would hope that:
1.  Something more closely approximating the Dselect theme is used by
default, so that dselect users don't get utterly lost.
2.  "Remove unused packages automatically" is (a) better described and
  (b) off by default.
3. An alternate 'menu' key is provided which doesn't require an F10 key.

Nathanael Nerode  <neroden at gcc.gnu.org>

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