<br /> The Debian Sandwich Part I – Debian Planet

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    The Debian Sandwich Part I
    Submitted by robster on Monday, April 02, 2001 – 21:32
    What? I hear you all cry. Well let me explain myself, the thing that makes Debian better than sliced bread is the two programs which make Debian, well, Debian. These are dpkg and apt.
    In its simplest form dpkg can be assumed as Debian’s version of that other, uh, horrible horrible package format, which will remain nameless. But very few Debian users I know download packages manually and install them using dpkg (whose -i is easier than rpms’s (oops) -Uvh), instead of conducting such a laborious task as this by hand, the clever Debian developers came up with apt (Advanced Package Tool). Apt automates the finding, downloading and installation (and the managing of dependancies) of updated and new packages on the system. The normal interface to apt is dselect. Dselect’s interface can be awkward and horrible to use if you are new, but soon you’ll grow to love it. But first we need to configure apt. Apt’s configuration is pretty simple and will only take a few moments, the most important thing is to add ftp or http servers to the /etc/apt/sources.list file, you can either do this through dselect in the `[A]ccess’ section or by firing up your favourite editor (the light joe in my case) and editing the file by hand. In my case sources.list looks like:

    deb ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian unstable non-free deb ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian unstable main deb ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian unstable contrib 

    As you can see each line contains the path to the files, the release id (eg woody=unstable, potato=stable) and what aspect of it. You can have multiple servers with the same type of data in each file, apt will then open multiple connections and download simultaneously.
    I wont go into much detail about dselect (its way beyond the scope of this document) except to tell you + installs a package – removes a package and _ purges a package (including configuration files). If you want more details on dselect then read this guide.
    One of the major benefits of apt is its flexibility, some of the main commands you use with it are below. (NB: apt-get is a specific part of the apt system for downloading and installing packages.) apt-get update – contacts every entry in sources.list and downloads an updated package listing. Always run this before any other command.
    apt-get install – searches for package(s) called name(n) (NB: name is not the full filename of the package with version etc, it is just the name of the package eg balsa, pingus etc.), downloads and installs it/them and its/their dependencies. This command will also upgrade the package(s) and dependencies to a newer version
    apt-get upgrade – will upgrade the entire system to the most current version of the release

    apt-get dselect-upgrade – this is used by the dselect program, it will install any new packages you have specified in dselect
    apt-get dist-upgrade – will upgrade your system intelligently to the release specified in .

    apt-get remove – will remove remove the package(s) listed and any packages that depend on them

    apt-get clean – deletes the contents of /var/cache/apt/archives

    apt-get autoclean – see above but only deletes the files not needed
    apt-get source – downloads, and optionally builds and installs the source for a package, see man apt-get for more details on this one
    All these commads will remove and configure packages as necessary to follow your will.

    If you are on a good network connection you could set up a cron to automagically run apt-get update && apt-get upgrade at midnight. One tool I find invaluable is gnome-apt a gtk front-end to apt, it allows you to search based on description and package name. So if apt-get install libbleh doesnt work then try searching using gnome-apt.
    Another interesting program is apt-proxy that will allow you share your downloaded debs on a central system, new versions will be automagically downloaded to replace outdated ones, this will save you network traffic even on a network with few computers.
    Well i’m finished rabbitting on, I hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. Stay tuned.

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    Subject: Re: The Debian Sandwich Part I
    Author: SpaceSpider
    Date: Tuesday, 2001/09/18 – 05:22

    Dselect’s interface can be awkward and
    horrible to use if you are new, but
    soon you’ll grow to love it.

    When does this happen exactly? I’ve been using
    Debian for about two years, and I still
    hate deselect. apt looked
    a little more promising, though very incomplete.

    The thing I hate is that you always seem to have
    to plow through thousands of packages one-by-one
    to get what you’re looking for. This never
    results in the same choices, no matter how many
    times I try, and each try seems to take about
    three days (not computer time — my

    There’s just gotta be a better way…

    In fact, the method I actually use
    is to skip the package selection (or use the
    task selector), and then use the online package
    search mechanism to decide on packages I need,
    then use apt-get to actually install
    them. Which is fine, but very web-dependent.

    On the other hand, apt-get rocks.

    [ Please login, or register ]


    Subject: Re: dselect
    Author: oldw0lf
    Date: Sunday, 2001/12/02 – 11:09
    I agree. Dselect, frankly, leaves alot to be desired. It works, but not pleasant to use. I was stuck using it until I found the aptitude package (I use Debian unstable, btw). Aptitude rocks my socks. Nice interface, and easy to search through packages. My only beef is that it, like dselect, only performs searches on the package name. I’d love to find a reasonable non-GUI package manager that would let me search on descriptions as well.
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    Subject: Re: dselect
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2002/04/13 – 23:12
    apt-cache search description
    [ Please login, or register ]


    Subject: Re: dselect
    Author: Anonymous
    Date: Saturday, 2002/01/12 – 02:44
    grepping through ‘dpkg -l’ is effective for me.

    I should examing aptitude, though.

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