Or how to get rid of Evolution without removing your whole system
There is a complain I have heard several times from people after they installed Debian: “I use Icedove/Thunderbird so I do not need Evolution: I tried to remove it but this would remove my whole system, that sucks!”
The reason behind this situation is that GNOME is installed by a meta-package, which is a dummy package that depends on each component of the official GNOME desktop, including Evolution. So it got installed as a dependency of that dummy package. This means that you, or rather, the Debian installer, never asked explicitly to install either Evolution or any other specific software: it came automatically.
Now, you want to remove Evolution: very well, but this implies removing the meta-package, as you are removing one of its dependencies. But if you are removing this meta-package, there is no reason to keep all this software you did not asked for, so, as they got installed automatically, they are now removed automatically as well…
So, do you still want to remove Evolution but keep the remaining of your GNOME desktop? Of course you will not keep « GNOME », because GNOME includes Evolution, so strictly speaking GNOME without Evolution is not GNOME any more.
Well, there is a solution: marking all the dependencies of the meta-package as manually installed, that is, faking that you installed them explicitly Aptitude is able to do that with its powerful search functions:
# aptitude unmarkauto '?reverse-depends(gnome) | ?reverse-recommends(gnome)' # aptitude unmarkauto '?reverse-depends(gnome-core) | ?reverse-recommends(gnome-core)' # aptitude unmarkauto '?reverse-depends(gnome-desktop-environment)'\ ' | ?reverse-recommends(gnome-desktop-environment)'
What did we do? Well, exactly what is written: unmarking as automatically installed the packages that reverse-depend or reverse-recommend gnome or gnome-desktop-environment. In other words, those that are dependencies or recommendations of gnome, gnome-core or gnome-desktop-environment. Why these three packages? Because the GNOME environment that Debian provides by default is composed of several meta-packages: I shall let you refer to their respective descriptions for further information.
Now, you can safely remove Evolution without pulling out your whole desktop system:
# aptitude remove evolution