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This is the example: I want to install elementary-desktop (from PPA), but it requires to remove esound in order to install pulseaudio (which I removed because it was causing problems with many apps). I already pinned both esound and pulseaudio and held them through sudo aptitude hold esound and sudo aptitude hold pulseaudio but, in Synaptic, the prompt still states that esound must be removed. Thanks in advance for your help!

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I wouldn't force such a thing, dependencies are there for some reason. Visit their IRC channel or file a feature-request at launchpad.net/~elementaryart –  Lekensteyn Jun 6 '11 at 19:51
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Elementary I believe only recommends pulseaudio. What you could do is install via the command line using sudo apt-get install --no-recommends elementary-desktop, or use Synaptic and simply unmark esound/pulseaudio when elementary-desktop is selected for installation.

If it is not a recommendation, then you could simply install the packages you want (that the metapackage depends on), giving you at least the majority of the Elementary experience, minus pulseaudio.

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