THE DEBIAN PACKAGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

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The Debian Package Management System (DPMS) is the foundation for managing software on Debian and Debian-like systems. As is expected of any software management system, DPMS provides for easy installation and removal of software packages. Debian packages end with the .deb extension. At the core of the DPMS is the dpkg (Debian Package) application. dpkg works in the back-end of the system, and several other command-line tools and graphical user interface (GUI) tools have been written to interact with it. Packages in Debian are fondly called “.deb” files. dpkg can directly manipulate .deb files. Various other wrapper tools have been developed to interact with dpkg, either directly or indirectly.

APT
APT is a highly regarded and sophisticated toolset. It is an example of a wrapper tool that interacts directly with dpkg. APT is actually a library of programming functions that are used by other middle-ground tools, like apt-get and apt-cache, to manipulate software on Debian-like systems. Several user-land applications have been developed that rely on APT. (User-land refers to non-kernel programs and tools.) Examples of such applications are synaptic, aptitude, and dselect. The user-land tools are generally more user-friendly than their command-line counterparts. APT has also been successfully ported to other operating systems.

One fine difference between APT and dpkg is that APT does not directly deal with .deb packages; instead, it manages software via the locations (repositories) specified in a configuration file. This file is the sources.list file. APT utilities use the sources.list file to locate archives (or repositories) of the package distribution system in use on the system.
It should be noted that any of the components of the DPMS (dpkg, apt, or the GUI tools) can be used to directly manage software on Debian-like systems. The tool of choice depends on the user’s level of comfort and familiarity with the tool in question. The tool at the apex of the triangle (dpkg) is the most difficult to use and the most powerful, followed by the next easiest to use (APT), and then followed finally by the user-friendly user-land tools.

Source of Information : McGraw Hill Osborne Media Linux Administration A Beginners Guide Fifth Edition

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