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non-essential required packages

Hello world,

On priorities, amongst other things, policy says:

          `required' packages are necessary for the proper functioning of
          the system.  You must not remove these packages or your system
          may become totally broken and you may not even be able to use
          `dpkg' to put things back.  Systems with only the `required'
          packages are probably unusable, but they do have enough
          functionality to allow the sysadmin to boot and install more

My understanding of this is that the "required" priority is essentially
equivalent to "essential: yes" and should be used only for packages which
*MUST* be on every system for dpkg to work and other packages to be able
to be installed. I don't think this is the case atm.

The following packages are marked priority: required, but not essential:

    adduser                 libpam-modules          mbr
    ae                      libpam-runtime          modutils
    console-data            libpam0g                passwd
    console-tools           libreadline4            perl-5.005-base
    console-tools-libs      libstdc++2.10           procps
    ldso                    libstdc++2.10-glibc2.2  setserial
    libc6                   makedev                 slang1
    libncurses5             mawk                    sysklogd

Of them,

    libc6, libncurses5, libpam*, libreadline*, libstdc++*, slang1

are libraries, and can't be marked essential, and:

    mawk, perl-5.005-base

are depended on by other packages, but have compatible alternatives so may
be replaced, so shouldn't be marked essential.

Of those remaining,

    ldso, makedev, procps

look like good candidates for essential: yes markers, at least for the
architectures that actually use them.


    adduser, ae, mbr, modutils, passwd, setserial, sysklogd

are all probably downgradable to either "important" (your system can be
recovered without these packages, but you're insane if you don't have
them), or lower.

This is not to say they shouldn't still always be installed by default,
of course.

I've filed a bug against ae to this effect already, btw.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

  ``We reject: kings, presidents, and voting.
                 We believe in: rough consensus and working code.''
                                      -- Dave Clark

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