Chapter 2. aptitude reference guide

Table of Contents

The aptitude terminal user interface
Using the menus
Menu commands
Working with multiple views
Becoming root
Managing packages
Managing the package list
Accessing package information
Modifying package states
Downloading, installing, and removing packages
Understanding and managing package trust
Managing automatically installed packages
Resolving package dependencies
Dependency resolution in aptitude
Immediate dependency resolution
Resolving Dependencies Interactively
Costs in the interactive dependency resolver
Configuring the interactive dependency resolver
Search patterns
Searching for strings
Shorthand for search terms
Searches and versions
Explicit search targets
Search term reference
Customizing aptitude
Customizing the package list
Customizing keybindings
Customizing text colors and styles
Customizing the display layout
Configuration file reference
Playing Minesweeper

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. 'Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?' he asked.

'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

 -- Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

aptitude is a large program with many features, and it is sometimes difficult to remember how to do something, or even to remember whether that something is even possible. Indeed, many feature requests received by the author describe features which are already present but are difficult to find.[7]

In an attempt to combat this obscurity, this reference guide describes every feature and configuration parameter of aptitude. For a more gentle guide to the important features of aptitude, see Chapter 1, Getting started.


aptitude's behavior and appearance can be configured in a number of ways. This manual describes how the program works with the default settings; descriptions of how various settings affect behavior are given in the section called “Customizing aptitude.

[7] I am pleased to say that the number of requests of this sort fell off precipitously following the initial publication of this Guide. It would be a happy occurrence if there was a connection between the two events.