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Synaptic and aptitude are basically the same thing. One is gui and the other is console-based, but they both use apt and dpkg to do the actual work.
apt and dpkg, however, are not the same thing. dpkg is simply an install/configure/uninstall tool for manipulating (individual) .deb packages. apt is a more comprehensive program for managing .debs and their dependencies as a whole. When you ask apt to install or uninstall something, it then calls on dpkg to do the actual work.
So apt sits on top of dpkg, and aptitude/synaptic sit on top of apt. Clear now?
Last edited by David the H.; 05-04-2006 at 10:07 PM.
dselect is yet another console-based front-end for apt. Almost everyone says that aptitude is much better and easier to use.
Many programs in the Linux world are built this way, with the basic function(s) being command line-based, and one or more front-ends available that you can choose from to make using it a little more convenient. Most of the gui CD rippers available use cdparanoia as the actual ripping engine, for example.
All the front-ends basically do the same thing; provide interfaces for apt. But the specific way they do it is different between them. Some are easier to use than others or have special features. Just try them all out and select the one you like the best. It's your choice. It's often good to be familiar with more than one program in case the one you like best becomes unusable for some reason. And don't forget, you can also use apt directly.
Finally, the man page for each program will usually explain what the program does and highlight how to use it. Just type 'man <program name>' in a terminal to read about it.