There is a VERY good question and answer here: Should I use tasksel, tasks in APT or install regular metapackages? (which incidentally I got to from here: What's the easiest way to set up a LAMP stack?)

My problem is I just don't quite understand the (accepted and only and GOOD) answer and would like clarification. Specifically with regards to the final three points:

  1. sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop
    • Will install the metapackage kubuntu-desktop. Dependencies are "auto installed".
  2. sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop^
    • Will select all packages tagged with task "kubuntu-desktop". That are all dependencies of metapackage kubuntu-desktop. They all are marked as "manually installed".
  3. sudo tasksel install kubuntu-desktop
    • Make sure X is installed before installing packages of task. Will install the metapackage kubuntu-desktop. Dependencies are "auto installed".

My question has nothing to do with kubuntu-desktop in actual fact I'm looking at lamp-server but don't think it is overly relevant (but clarified just in case).

My initial understanding of the above blockquote is that by having each individual package labelled as "manually installed" would be more desirable since you wouldn't lose "auto installed" dependant packages if you uninstalled/removed something and didn't specifically want to remove the dependencies, but on the other hand could leave "clumps" of packages around if you did manually uninstall after having used option 2.

Question: Am I correct in that assumption? (removing individual components after a tasksel through apt-get would leave dependencies behind even after an autoremove)

And even after reading the answer MANY times, I'm still not clear on what the better solution is.

  • To close voters: This question is about whether there are objective reasons why "manually" installed packages are generally better than "automatically" installed ones. If the answer is no, there's also a request to explain why that's not generally the case, e. g. what the trade-off between the two is. This is not primarily based on opinion. I'm voting to leave this question open. – David Foerster May 31 '17 at 8:11

The factual part of your understanding is correct: manually installed packages are not removed during the "autoremove" operation if there is no reverse-dependency left on the system whereas automatically installed ones will be removed in that case.

However you're wrong in that one is generally better than the other. What's better for you depends on your needs:

  • If you install the Kubuntu desktop via the task kubuntu-desktop^ and then decide that you don't want to keep the text editor Kate (package kate) around and remove it for some reason, a later "autoremove" command will not remove the rest of the Kubuntu desktop packages.

  • If you want try out the Kubuntu desktop (e. g. in addition to your current desktop environment) and install the meta-package kubuntu-desktop and then decide that you don't want to keep using it, you can remove the kubuntu-desktop package and run "autoremove" to get rid of all Kubuntu-specific packages at the same time.

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