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I have recently grown tired of the way Rhythmbox starts up every time I plug in my MP3 player. I know I could simply disable this, but I've decided to uninstall Rhythmbox instead. It's such a memory-hungry application anyhow.

However, there's a mysterious package called simply gnome that apt-get lists as being dependent on Rhythmbox. I guess it's the very GNOME environment. But why does aptitude recommend uninstalling it? Wouldn't that break my system?

Here is the output of dpkg -L gnome

hostname:/home/user# dpkg -L gnome 

Here is the output of aptitude remove rhythmbox:

The following packages are BROKEN:
The following packages will be REMOVED:
0 packages upgraded, 0 newly installed, 1 to remove and 20 not upgraded.
Need to get 0B of archives. After unpacking 14.0MB will be freed.
The following packages have unmet dependencies:
  gnome: Depends: rhythmbox (>= 0.11.5) but it is not installable
The following actions will resolve these dependencies:

Remove the following packages:

Score is 119
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Debian (and derivatives) break up large pieces of software into many small packages. This way, if you only want, say, a specific Gnome application, you can just install its package and not waste download time, disk space or other resources installing the whole of Gnome.

But for the people who do want the whole thing, there are a number of metapackages that exist solely for their dependencies. For example, if you want all of Gnome, you can install the gnome package, and through its dependencies it will pull in all the Gnome applications. The metapackage itself doesn't contain any file, so removing it won't have any effect outside the package manager.

gnome depends on rhythmbox because Rhythmbox is part of Gnome. If you remove the gnome package, just make sure that apt doesn't also remove applications that were installed solely because they were dependencies of gnome and that you want to keep. In aptitude, press m to mark a package as manually installed, so it won't be removed if the packages that depend on it are removed.

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To reveal this mystery just type apt-cache show gnome and behold:

Description: The GNOME Desktop Environment, with extra components This is the GNOME Desktop environment, an intuitive and attractive desktop, with extra components.

This package depends on the standard distribution of the GNOME desktop environment, plus a complete range of plugins and other applications integrating with GNOME and Debian, providing the best possible environment to date.

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Or dpkg -p gnome, since it's installed. – ephemient Dec 29 '10 at 21:34

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