As a former Debian user, I "kind of" remember that I should only use one of the package managers... Either apt-get, aptitude, or synaptic, but not the three in combination 'cause there may be conflicts, they don't mix well.

I don't know where I have heard it, but it has left its memory print. So I just want to check with you if it is really not advised or if it is an urban legend and it is completely safe. Could you confirm this ?

Is the cleanest way of installing a package is still using the command checkinstall before invoking dpkg ?

  • 2
    I freely switch between apt-get and synaptic, depending on whether I need to explore the available packages or not, and I've never had a problem. I've never understood the point of aptitude. Feb 21, 2011 at 16:01
  • I use sudo aptitude safe-upgrade in the 11.04 development environment. The advantage is "Safe-upgrade" will hold pack groups of packages until they have all bee updated. This means it minimises the number of times you have a non working system.
    – robin0800
    Feb 21, 2011 at 16:29
  • @Chris... Same for me, I never got used to Aptitude. Close to Synaptic, I had also used KPackage in KDE. It was nice. Feb 23, 2011 at 18:48
  • Possible duplicate of askubuntu.com/questions/7644/… Mar 5, 2012 at 22:04

3 Answers 3


All of those use dpkg as a backend. Neither one uses any specialized database that breaks when you use something else.

It's definitely urban legend.

If you want to install something from source code, cleanest way is to use checkinstall, or install it to /usr/local. Using package manager is better, because then removing that package is much easier.


The only real difference is Aptitude.

  • If you use it interactively install something, then remove that package in something else and then go back to Aptitude, it will think you want to reinstall it. You just have to clear selections when it loads (easy enough through the menu).

  • It will also run an autoremove so old dependencies are cleaned up. This can be dangerous if you accidentally remove something that is a dependant of a metapackage and you remove it and all its deps. This isn't an issue if you know what you're doing.

  • It is for a server. I will put the less packages possible, updated the less possible, and only for security updates. ;-) so I think I am gonna stay with the simple apt-get... though I have never learnt using aptitude and that would be a cool occasion... Feb 21, 2011 at 17:36

Synaptic and apt-get are compatible. Aptitude is not compatible with synaptic. This is fact, not "urban legend" as another poster claimed.

Today I wanted to find out which Java runtime my system has. Googling turned up the following suggestion: in a command shell, type:

aptitude search "?provides(java-runtime)"

This generated (among other lines) the following:

pi  gcj-4.4-jre
pi  gcj-jre

What the "pi" means is that it's not currently installed, but is marked for installation. So if I went into aptitude and just asked it to install requested packages, it would install gcj-4.4-jre. However, in Synaptic, it is neither installed nor marked for installation. If I ask Synaptic to install requested packages, it does nothing.

I'm no expert on this stuff, and I have no idea where aptitude is stashing its notions of package states, but it's obvious that it's not compatible with Synaptic.

  • thx for the constructive argument. This is an explicit difference that you are pointing to. Oct 2, 2012 at 10:49

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