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Re: Interactive package management via aptitude

On Monday, April 08, 2013 18:43:06, Adam Borowski wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 09, 2013 at 04:19:19AM +0800, Chow Loong Jin wrote:
> > Actually, in the event of aptitude not being able to resolve the
> > dependencies satisfactorily the first round (from aptitude install foo),
> > aptitude allows you
> > to interactively pick other solutions, or tell it what to do:
> Have you been able to get that effect from aptitude?  It seems that
> whenever it sees some trouble (sometimes even when plain apt-get would
> succeed), it proposes to remove the world, install a few unrelated
> packages, and not do whatever you requested it to.  After declining a
> varying number of such "solutions", it gives up even if it would take a
> single action to resolve the problem.

I occasionally see behavior along these lines.  Often you can step through the 
solutions with "." and get to a reasonable solution, but sometimes it still 
doesn't get to one after (slowly) skipping through a hundred choices, with an 
unknown number of choices to go.  At that point it's obvious you need to do 
something else.

The typical place I see this are on Debian boxes in an abominable state that 
have lots of updates still not done, and have been customized and have several 
pacakges on hold.  For instance, one of the (ugly) boxes I help admin recently 
had 1000 pacakges yet to update and > 60 security packages not done, and not 
enough space on the box to do them.  Things like that can drive the aptitude 
package resolver crazy.  Usually the best option is to do upgrades in smaller, 
simpler steps that the resolver can tolerate.  i.e. the "divide and conquer" 
technique.  Sometimes I find that old config files left behind also bothers 
the resolver (i.e. packages removed but not purged) -- purging those helps.  
[The aptitude docs explain how to do this search.]

Even with this, aptitude is still my favorite package manager and I use it 
almost exclusively.

Note that there are command line options concerning the resolver with 
aptitude, and with options like --allow-new-upgrades and --allow-new-installs, 
or --full-resolver, etc... some of these may help what you're running into.

I don't use these because I do the "divide and conquer" appraoch, thus 
manually making things simpler for the resolver myself.

> I'm not sure if it makes sense to recommend aptitude in its present state.

I don't personally feel this way, but I can understand why you do.  It can 
sometimes be tricky to work around package conflicts.

  -- Chris

Chris Knadle
GPG Key: 4096R/0x1E759A726A9FDD74

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