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Re: Question about having an always clean base system in Debian Sid

On Thursday 04 February 2010, Frans Pop wrote:
> If you look at how debootstrap works, that's not so simple. But if you,
> or anybody else, can come up with a tested patch that implements that
> then I'm sure it will be seriously considered.

Let me elaborate a little bit.

The reason the packages you'd expect to be marked "auto" are not marked as 
such is because debootstrap (and tasksel as well for the 'standard' task) 
simply install *all* packages that have a certain priority. Because the 
packages are all installed by name, they will not be marked "auto".

The reason all these packages are the same priority is because that's a 
current Debian Policy requirement [1]: packages cannot depend on other 
packages with a lower priority.

The simplest way to "fix" the issue [2] would be if libraries etc. would be 
allowed to have a lower priority (e.g. optional). That would mean that 
they'd no longer get installed by name, but pulled in as dependencies and 
thus marked "auto".

There are some arguments why the policy could be changed, but that would 
require a serious discussion within Debian.
The main argument would be that the policy was probably originally created 
*because* tools like debootstrap and debian-cd did not support dependency 
handling. No that they do, the policy could be changed. But there may be 
other reasons I'm not aware of!

I've considered starting this discussion a few times, but haven't yet done 


[1] http://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-archive.html#s-priorities
[2] It's also quite probably the *only* correct way to fix the issue...

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