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Re: Splitting Packages [was Re: ITP: mencal -- A menstruation calendar]

On Mon, Mar 25, 2002 at 05:57:01PM +0100, Fabio Massimo Di Nitto wrote:
> What about applying to a similar structure that is used for main contrib 
> non-free??
> something like base admin net so that a sources.list file can look like:
> deb <mirror>/debian unstable main/base main/net contrib/* non-free/web
> where * means all the sub categories that belongs to contrib.
> at this point I think 2 problems can be solved in one shot:
> 1) reducing the size of Packages
> 2) give the end user a higher flexibility in selecting pkgs
>   (EX: why do I need to have gnome-audio if Im installing a dns 
> server?? maybe on
>    an old i386??? ;) )
> 3) Im tempt to say reducing network load but.. well.. that's another story.
> It's obvious that your sources.list get more complex to handle but we also
> have really nice tools like debconf to help users, don't we???

Under your proposal, if I need even *one* package from a section that I
currently don't need, I need to include the whole thing.  The granularity
is too coarse, and therefore only addresses the needs of a limited number
of users facing this problem.

What about going the whole way and inventing a debian package meta info
protocol, loosely modeled after NNTP:

- instead of whole Packages files, have the archive provide "headers"
  with minimal info (a unique id, package name, brief description)
- the client may "subscribe" to groups (i'm being deliberately
  vague about what a group is ... a section?  all packages of a certain
  priority?  hand-picked subset of packages?  it doesn't really matter)
- the client may either fetch individual package entries as needed or
  nab a whole mess of them at once.  the client should have smarts about
  fetching not just the desired package entries, but also selecting
  entries that may satisfy dependencies.

By splitting up Packages down to individual entries, it allows extremely
small subsets of packages to be placed in the local copy of the Packages
file.  Furthermore, because entries would have unique ids, only new package
entries need to be downloaded each time.

Local systems on a network needn't even store the Packages file anymore.
They can simply query the Packages database server for the lan.

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