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This is on debian (3.11-0.bpo.2-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.11.8-1~bpo70+1 (2013-11-21) x86_64 GNU/Linux).

I was just attempting to "aptitude install ntp". Aptitude told me it would install ntp and libopts25, but would remove 39 other packages that were seemingly random. I cancelled the command with control+c. I ran it again and pressed ? to see what my options were (I am far from proficient with aptitude). I ended up entering "n" to cancel it again. A few minutes later I ran "aptitude install ntp" again and all of a sudden it says 0 packages will be removed. Why did it decide it didn't need to uninstall all those random packages all of a sudden?

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The default resolver for aptitude choses deinstallation before upgrading. So what happens is that the "seemingly random" packages are affected by libopts25 upgrade because they depend on the specific already installed version, and aptitude tries to remove them instead of upgrading them.

When you tried the second time to install the same ntp, aptitude remembered that you did not rejected the presented solution, and thus no NEW packages will be deleted.

Never use Ctrl+C in aptitude, use the right keybindings.

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