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less than useful dselect/dpkg error msg

Receiving error messages such as the following:

      Linux# dpkg --configure fvwm2
       dpkg: error processing fvwm2 (--configure):
       package fvwm2 is not ready for configuration
       cannot configure (current status `installed')
      Errors were encountered while processing:

are pretty much useless.  This sort of error message reminds
me of Red Hat's RPM!

What causes this sort of information free error message?
Does dpkg honor the 'hold' status in the status file when it
is placed there by dselect (that is when dpkg is run manually from the command line)?


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