The following are some excerpts from (for me) a quite illuminating article about "Meta Packages":
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.
Generally a software “bundle” meta-package is a one-time-use thing. Many will say in their description “After installation this package can be safely removed.” Once the software itself is installed, the package manager will take care of updates for the installed applications and libraries, so the meta-package is no longer required. Those can be removed with no penalty.
Others, like ones that install an entire desktop environment, will depend more on the user’s long-term goals. Meta-packages are often used for more than installing the current versions of software. They can also be used for upgrading.
Removing the meta-package does not remove any other currently installed software or cause dependency issues with any other currently installed software. The only thing potentially broken is the ability to do a complete release upgrade.
And there is somewhat more to it. For reading the whole article click here
Needless to say, deconstruct the article! Reading your comments is and has been an enriching experience.
(wonder if I should sign with my new "nickname"
Edit: another link
I suppose that's one of the ironies of life, doing the wrong thing at the right moment -C.C.