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I hardly ever hear anyone mention dselect, a deprecated package management front-end for Debian. Considering that it still exists as part of dpkg source, it must still have its uses. What are those? How does it compare with apt-get?

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2 Answers 2

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Dselect is an interactive dpkg front-end that resolves dependencies and conflicts. It lacks most of apt's advanced features: no differenciation between Suggests/Recommends/Depends, less good dependency and conflict resolution, no support for multiple sources of packages, no apt pinning/preferences, no automatically-installed package mark, …

(This is from memory. Actually dselect can now use apt backends for some functions, at least it can download from apt's sources.list.)

Dselect got a lot of hate simply from having unusual key bindings. I think your question will bring out unfond memories in some people.

I suppose dselect can still be useful if you want an interactive package selector with smaller memory consumption than apt.

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Heh... Unfond memories? I sure remember the thrill switching from slack to debian... dselect... awesome! Anyhow, most of the things you mention here were outdated ten years ago. It does suggest/recommend/depend on packages. Dselect uses apt-get and its sources.list with as many sources you like. Dselect won't use less memory than apt-get tho since it calls apt-get for about everything. You're right about the pinning tho ;-) –  Arjan Drieman Nov 18 '11 at 7:27

Deselect doesn't have any of the wonderful dependency resolution, but you can kind of think of deselect as a curses based "synaptic". However, you only want to make selections with deselect; don't actually do the installation.

After making selections run this:

apt-get dselect-upgrade

Best of both worlds.

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Aptitude is even better ;) –  André Paramés Jan 18 '11 at 5:03
I'm old school. –  bahamat Jan 18 '11 at 7:25
@bahamat Why use dselect instead of aptitude for selection? –  Tshepang Jan 18 '11 at 8:18
@Tshepang I don't, I use apt-get. Although I do use dpkg --set-selections to set a large list of packages that I want then use apt-get dselect-upgrade to install them. This is extremely handy for automating system set up on a large scale. –  bahamat Jan 18 '11 at 8:25
I don't discourage it per sé. I don't particularly care for package menus. I already know what I want and don't need to browse. If I'm searching I much prefer apt-cache. But if you like to browse, then by all means. That's why there are different options. For a beginner, aptitude is much easier. But for an advanced user dselect is chock full of single keystroke commands and other difficult to discover goodies. –  bahamat Jan 18 '11 at 10:12

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