I was recently in a discussion about meta-packages, and realized many users don’t know what they are or what they do. So, let’s see if we can clear-up the mystery.
Meta-packages in a nutshell
A ‘meta-package’ is a convenient way to bulk-install groups of applications, their libraries and documentation. Many Linux distributions use them for a variety of purposes, from seeding disk images that will go on to become new releases, to creating software “bundles” that are easy for a user to install. A meta-package rarely contains anything other than a changelog and perhaps copyright information, it contains no applications or libraries within itself. The way they work is by having a list of “dependencies” that the package manager reads. The package manager then goes to the repositories to find the dependencies and installs them. (Read the rest at Freedom Penguin)