In previous posts, we have examined some of the features of APT, the Debian package management system, and learned how to install, update, and remove packages. Aptitude is a text-based frontend for APT that makes it easier to browse through packages, search, and manage them.
While APT operates completely from the command line, Aptitude uses an ncurses interface. This means that you can still run it within an SSH terminal window and have full access to the semi-graphical menu system. It supports both keyboard and mouse navigation.
By default, Aptitude will display a menu with various categories, such as Security Updates, Upgradable Packages, Installed Packages, and so on. If you select any category, it displays a list of the package sub-categories as well as their descriptions. As you navigate through sub-categories, you will eventually come to the packages themselves. Aptitude includes hotkeys for just about every function, including menu options. This makes it easy to select items and easily perform tasks.
One of the unique features of Aptitude is its advanced “Resolver” system, which examines conflicts with packages and calculates multiple solutions, giving you the option to choose from any of them or ask it to try again to find more solutions. Because of this feature, some users prefer to use it even from the command line without the graphical interface, in place of the normal apt-get command.
Aptitude is a free and open source frontend to the Debian GNU/Linux package management system. Most Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, include aptitude in their repositories for easy installation.