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improvements to apt: my thanks to the developers

a while back i bitched about apt - a program i have been using since
i was introduced seriously to debian about four years ago.

the reason that i bitched about it was because i managed to get into
difficulties: not having been presented with enough information, i
managed to get into an alleway without realising that i was in an
alley, and got trapped.

i had, for emergency reasons, to back out of an upgrade of x-windows
by swapping old and new network and video cards.

i did so by doing "apt-get remove xbase-clients" and a dozen
other packages, not knowing that there was "another" way.

consequently i forgot that xbase-clients had been removed: it was
several days and several email messages before i was finally advised
about "meta packages" and other things that helped get me back on

so, with that background, i am absolutely DELIGHTED to note that
apt has some additional information that it displays: it shows up
the recommended and suggested packages.

this is INCREDIBLY helpful because by installing one package i can
go "hm, maybe i should add that, too".

possible future improvements on this theme could include options,
including in /etc/apt/apt.conf, to _always_ add the recommended
packages to the list of packages to be installed.

in the mean-time i will think about ways to walk the package
status graph, back-tracking to the "meta packages", and then
back down again, via "recommended" packages, in order to 
provide warning information to users in trouble.

the aim is to be able to tell people that they have managed
to install only half of the packages that a particular
meta-package (task-XXX) would normally install, consequently
they cannot necessarily expect their system to work.

this, hopefully, would be a way to avoid people having problems
by endeavouring to install Gnome by doing
"apt-get install gnome-bin", or x-windows by doing
"apt-get install xserver-xfree86" without knowing anything about
even the existence or purpose of xbase-clients.


expecting email to be received and understood is a bit like
picking up the telephone and immediately dialing without
checking for a dial-tone; speaking immediately without listening
for either an answer or ring-tone; hanging up immediately and
then expecting someone to call you (and to be able to call you).
every day, people send out email expecting it to be received
without being tampered with, read by other people, delayed or
simply - without prejudice but lots of incompetence - destroyed.
please therefore treat email more like you would a CB radio
to communicate across the world (via relaying stations):
ask and expect people to confirm receipt; send nothing that
you don't mind everyone in the world knowing about...

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