Linux systems have essential concepts for installing software such as packages (software), and repositories. You need a package management system to install the software that you need on your system. On Debian-based systems, you have two tools that can help you to manage your packages that are **Advanced Packaging Tool (apt)** and **aptitude**. When you install a Linux package, it comes with its dependencies and configuration files to work properly, the package manager thus helps you by doing the proper job automatically for you.
What is APT
Apt is the default Linux command-line tool to manage the packages on a Debian-based system. It comes by default and doesn't offer a graphical interface to manage the tools that are installed and the ones that you can need in the future. To install a package, you need to specify the name of the package just after the `apt install` command. The package manager reads the `/etc/apt/sources.list` file and the contents of the `/etc/apt/sources.list.d` folder to retrieve the ones that you need with all the dependencies.
Apt command offers a lot of sub-commands that help you to manage your system so that the packages can be added, updated, removed, or fixed if a problem occurs. During those processes, it will automatically install, update or remove the necessary dependencies or the other packages which depend on the main package that is being operated
What is Aptitude
Aptitude is another popular tool that you can use over apt. It offers a command-line and text-based front-end for package management. It doesn't come by default, so you need to install it with the `apt` command. aptitude offers the possibility to manage your packages through command lines and also from a visual interface directly on your terminal. You can perform the main actions like installing, updating, and deleting your packages. it also offers sub-commands to manage your packages as apt but some people prefer the visual interface as it's easy to use.
Let's understand the difference
If you consider only the command-line interfaces of each, they are quite similar as each of them offers you different ways to manage your packages. Therefore, there are a few differences that we can list:
- Apt offers a command-line interface, while aptitude offers a visual interface
- When facing a package conflict, `apt` will not fix the issue while `aptitude` will suggest a resolution that can do the job
- aptitude can interactively retrieve and displays the Debian changelog of all available official packages
Apt requires the user to have a solid knowledge of Linux systems and package management as you are running everything in the command line. It can be difficult for a novice to handle.
On the other hand, aptitude with its interface is more user-friendly as it offers a layer of abstraction regarding the different sub-commands to use for installation, upgrades, etc.
Now you know the difference between apt and aptitude. `aptitude` works as an alternative to `apt` and offers a multiple-choice dependency resolution that can is useful. aptitude is more for novice users while apt can be considered for people with a good understanding of Linux package management. There are also some other package managers that you have on the other popular Linux distributions.
[Image courtesy: Debian]
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