The purpose of this site is to provide information to the APT and APTcc backend of PackageKit and the integration in Debian. PackageKit tries to make simple and common software management tasks easier and smoother among all/most distributions. Therefor it provides a distribution neutral DBus interface. With the rise of new packaging systems like Flatpak, Snap and immutable base images PackageKit is now considered to be in maintenance mode according to this blog post.
The Smart backend is not covered here.
PackageKit backend is shipped in Debian and set as default in Kubuntu.
The development takes place in the git repository of PackageKit:
git clone https://github.com/PackageKit/PackageKit.git
Debian & Ubuntu packaging can be obtained via Git:
Or via APT:
apt source packagekit
Source and binary and packages are available in Debian and Ubuntu.
The main place for discussion is the PackageKit mailing list:
The discussion of unresolved issues was archived to wiki:/Discussion.
In the following you will find a list of unique dpkg/apt features and how they are addressed.
PackageKit has two backends for APT. One called "APT", which is Python-based and one called "APTcc", which is written in C++. The default PackageKit backend in Debian is set to APTcc, as it has less bugs, a lower memory usage and supports debconf.
As explained in the FAQ a running task (PackageKit transaction) is not allowed to wait for user input. But this is the case in several situations using dpkg/apt (debconf and conf files).
(This used to be called Hughsie's Law.)
By Debian Policy it is no longer supported to prompt for input on stdin in maintainer scripts. The APT and APTcc backend has got a time out of 10 minutes before it cancels a hanging script to handle broken packages.
Configuration File Conflict
PackageKit defaults to keep the current configuration and showing a message to the user about the configuration file conflict. There is an effort to change dpkg to use Debconf for handling file conflicts.
Using CD-ROM or DVD as installation source is supported by PackageKit since 0.4.7 version (released in may 2009).
PackageKit has support for debconf if the APTcc backend is used.
Apper (PackageKit KDE UI) creates a debconf-kde instance (DebconfGui()), which receives a path to create a socket on /tmp. The path is then passed to PackageKit which pass to the APTcc backend which sets an env var that debconf uses to communicate to debconf-kde.
For clients that use PackageKit-GLib2 (such as pkcon and GNOME-PackageKit) a socket is automatically created and passed to the current APT backend since PackageKit 0.6.10.
If the client closes the debconf window, it will default to non-interactive frontend of debconf, allowing unattended upgrades to happen.
The corresponding bits of the APT backends reuse the gnome-app-install infrastructure.
Many applications can make use of PackageKit to allow users to manage packages, or request the user install packages.