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aptitude: set all packages auto-installed except given list?


My usual method of 'cleaning' the system was to set all installed 
packages to auto-installed and then mark one by one the ones I need to 
keep. I even have a good list generated with:

aptitude -F '%?p' search '~i!~M' > bak/pkg.list

Now the problem I'm facing is that (probably due to some aptitude bug 
than seems to have disappeared) most of my installed packages are set to 
manually installed. How can I:

- set everything to auto-installed
- automatically mark as manually installed the ones in the list


I already tried (as root):

    aptitude markauto ~i

This will try to remove everything and I have to abort

    aptitude --schedule-only markauto ~i

Seems to be doing the first part, but I can't convince aptitude to 
unmark my list (which I processed to not contain unneeded space and 

    aptitude unmarkauto < pkg.list

has no effect

    aptitude install < pkg.list

first tries to remove everything and when I say 'n' it starts crunching 
on my processor.

Any other suggestions?

Offtopic discussions among Debian users and developers:

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