Aptitude or apt-get?

It’s 2017. I started using linux in 1999. Yes, I am getting older and older. I have always used apt-get on Debian based servers or distributions. However, in recent times, I am getting more frustrated to use apt-get. To be precise, I may want to install a package. So, I start to type apt-get. Then I may be unsure, if the package by the exact name exists. So, I tend to search the package/s, instead of installing it. Now, I have to use apt-cache to search packages. Sigh!

Note: Now we have apt to solve the above frustration!

Conflict resolution

Installing MariaDB by replacing the default MySQL in the older Ubuntu distributions (14.04 or 12.04) have always been a pain. I tend to miss something that resulted in package conflict. In these situations, apt-get would simply throw me an error something similar to, “Sorry, I can’t allow you to do that“. Then, I would be like “wtf, why don’t you provide me a clue on what’s going on“. Just had a similar situation where aptitude resolved the issue swiftly. A big thanks for aptitude.

But, why do articles often show apt-get commands?

There might be two reasons.

  • On each of those articles, it has to start with apt-get install aptitude
  • It is easier to show the commands than GUI offered by aptitude

Both reasons are irrelevant these days when most server admins work only on CLI. Probably, it is time to start promoting aptitude in articles.

Are there any other difference between aptitude and apt-get?

Of course. There are some minor differences.

  • apt-get autoremove is done automatically by aptitude (saves time!)
  • aptitude’s safe-upgrade and full-upgrade commands are more accurate than apt-get’s upgrade and dist-upgrade.
  • even though aptitude’s search is way too slow than its competitor’s, it has some advanced search patterns that can come in handy at times.
  • apt-get is always faster!
  • apt-get uses smaller footprint than the other!
  • aptitude has why and why not!
  • apt-get came first! (so no chicken-or-egg issue here). You’ll always find apt-get in every Debian based distro, even on a super bare-bone server. But, it may not be true for aptitude!


In the end, it’s just a personal preference, I guess. Time for me to rewrite my muscle memory to use aptitude instead of apt-get or apt-cache!

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