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Base shrinkage proposal

In continuing efforts to reduce the size of base....

Here's a proposal that Jason Gunthorpe, Bdale Garbee, and I discussed a bit
tonight. Many people want to cut down base so that we do not need 10+
floppies for installation. Not only is it a bother, it is really bad PR for

The idea is this -- there are lots of things in the base packages that are
really not essential for installation. What we can do is to build our base
disks more intelligently. We will set up an exclusion file that contains
files that are part of the base packages, but are not essential (much of
locales, most of the documentation, many of the files in /usr/sbin, etc). At
the same time (and this is *key*) the dpkg db files (status and *.list) will
be modified. status will show all packages with as version 0 (so that they
will be upgraded when the package manager runs) and *.list will have the
purged files removed. This allows us to maintain system integrity while
reducing base significantly.

Some other concerns:
- Maintaining the purge file
  Once we get one set up, we shouldn't need to update it very often
- Risks
  Should be minimal if we start with docs, consolefonts, etc. In my
  experiments that cuts base by about 2 floppies

I'm willing to volunteer to work on this, but with the holidays and all
it'll take me at least a couple of weeks to code something up.

Debian Developer <tausq@debian.org>

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