Sometimes when I am running aptitude I run into problems (don't get me wrong, I love aptitude especially the CLI client, I have always wondered why /etc/alternatives/aptitude exist.

I do know what /etc/alternatives are used for, symbolically linking one or more programs which do the same thing. For instance, apt, aptitude, apt-get and wajig all do the same thing. What I don't understand is why that structure is used. I am running Debian buster but it would and was the same on Debian stable and even before.


┌─[shirish@debian] - [~] - [10012]
└─[$] which aptitude
┌─[shirish@debian] - [~] - [10013]
└─[$] ll -h /usr/bin/aptitude
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 26 2013-07-25 22:05 /usr/bin/aptitude -> /etc/alternatives/aptitude
┌─[shirish@debian] - [~] - [10014]
└─[$] ll -h /etc/alternatives/aptitude
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 24 2013-07-25 22:05 /etc/alternatives/aptitude -> /usr/bin/aptitude-curses

While I can understand how the relationship flows from one to the other, I don't understand why /etc/alternatives/aptitude still exist ?

Couldn't we simply have aptitude symlinked to aptitude curses. I don't see any breakage happening if that way was done. Also if I'm not wrong, most or all system administrators would be putting/adding aptitude to the mix and not aptitude-curses.

Looking forward to know more.


This is a remnant of past versions of aptitude which had an experimental aptitude-gtk version, available as an alternative.

This was removed in version 0.6.6-1, in 2012. Even though it’s no longer useful, keeping the alternative does no harm and is easier than trying to migrate properly to a non-alternative binary.

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