[Cc-ing firstname.lastname@example.org] Hi. I'm yet another perl 5 porter having a couple of thoughts on this as well. Perl upstream is already at work on cutting down the perl core to remove extraneous modules. We do want to make sure that the core release can always bootstrap CPAN, but past that, we have a vague, informal goal of being able to ship a "core-perl" with a super-minimal set of libraries. If Debian and Ubuntu want this as well, we'd love help. We don't fully know what that will all look like, but if others want to do something like it as well, we'd rather we get them to help us do it in some standard way. Also, I think that a user installing the `perl' package should end up with the full content of the perl 5 distribution available. Your current plan seems already have that covered. That's good. What's not entirely clear to me yet is what sort of space savings you're looking for. Is it just dropping various modules, or are you also planning to cut back on core features? I imagine there's some space to be gained by providing a small perl without full unicode support, avoiding to compile in lots of information from the unicode character database. I believe much of the infrastructure for that already exists for miniperl, which is a perl without all the features that gets compiled during perl's build process to later bootstrap the real perl with all features. However, the thought of having a /usr/bin/perl without all the functionality included in a perl release doesn't seem very appealing to me. For that reason I sympathise with David's suggestion of having a /usr/bin/minimal-perl or /usr/bin/system-perl or whatever instead, and have the base system tools use that instead of a full perl in /usr/bin/perl. That wouldn't just avoid confusion, but also have various other benefits. - It would have to have an @INC path separate from the real perl's @INC. With that, users installing or upgrading modules via CPAN can't break their system by installing broken or incompatible versions. - It'd be much easier to provide a perl with a reduced core feature set, such as the unicode support mentioned above. - It'd be easier to check if a package actually worked with the minimal perl. - You could even drop everything necessary to bootstrap CPAN. As far as I can tell, almost everything necessary to achieve the above is already available in the form of Configure switches, so I guess the effort required to implement it would be quite small. The only thing worrying me slightly about this is the possibility that it might lead to some sort of weird fork, which would lead to even more pain. Generally, I find the idea of a minimal perl that's neither called `perl' nor installs /usr/bin/perl to be most appealing. Short of that, requiring users to install the `perl' package to pull in all the libraries included in the perl distribution on top of a minimal core-perl doesn't sound too bad either. I would however be nice if that minimal perl, without all the libraries installed, would identify itself as such, for example in `perl -v' and `perl -V'. But regardless of the approach Debian and Ubuntu are going to take, we'd really love if as much of that as possible could happen upstream as the perl 5 porters do after all have very similar goals.
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