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Essential packages (Re: Debian on the Sharp Zaurus/SL-5xxx)

On Sun, Jun 16, 2002 at 10:04:46PM +0200, Magnus Ekdahl wrote:

> > Which packages or programs seem superfluous to you?
> First, by personal belief is that anything that isn't needed for booting or 
> package management shouldn't be essential.  Here comes a list of thing I 
> think is unecesary for booting and installing packages. First comes the 
> utilities that I have successfully been able to remove while exprementing 
> with asmutils (RTP'ed by you). 
> > textutils
> 	md5sum.textutils	md5sum is contained in dpkg
> 	cksum			use md5 checksums instead
> 	comm			compare two sorted files line by line
> 	csplit	split a file into sections determined by context lines	
> 	expand	convert tabs to spaces
> 	fmt	simple optimal text formatter
> 	fold 	wrap each input line to fit in specified width
> 	head
> 	join	join lines of two files on a common field
> 	nl	number of lines in a file
> 	od
> 	paste
> 	pr	convert text files for printing
> 	ptx	produce a permuted index of file contents
> 	split	split a file into pieces
> 	sum	checksum and count the blocks in a file
> 	tac	concatenate and print files in reverse
> 	tail
> 	tr
> 	tsort	perform topological sort
> 	unexpand	convert spaces to tabs
> 	uniq	remove duplicate lines from a sorted file
> 	wc

head, tail, tr and wc are certainly necessary for booting.  Are those the
ones which you replaced with asmutils?

> [...]

Most of the things that you listed are quite small (especially the scripts),
and don't justify splitting the package that contains them.  There is, of
course, nothing stopping a user from deleting those programs if they do not
use them.

> > grep
> 	egrep	
> 	fgrep	

I would expect these to be links to grep; I wonder why they are not.  You
may want to ask the maintainer about tihs.

> > e2fsprogs
> 	Remove everything but fsck (needed by the init process). I still don't thing 
> that mkfs is needed to boot or install progs

As I understand it, booting is not the only requirement for making something
Essential.  Essential packages are treated differently in other
circumstances as well, for example by dpkg.

> > fileutils
> 	dir 
> 	vdir 
> 	dircolors
> 	shred
> 	unlink
> 	link
> 	/bin/rmdir
> This is the packages I have been able to confirm so far. I.e I can boot and 
> install packages without them. 

I expected dir and vdir to be links to ls, but they are not.  I certainly
never use them.

> > I find this list quite reasonable; a case could perhaps be made against
> > Perl, but having it available in base has saved me many times (including
> > on the Zaurus, where I needed to setuid(geteuid()) from a shell).
> While I'm not arguing that one would actually use a system with the
> smallest possible number of packages included, I think we should give
> users the possibility to add/remove programs on their own. Other than
> force them to use the programs we have chosen for them. So while pearl is
> useful, I think that it should be marked recommended, but not essential. 

It is also not worthwhile to split packages at the finest possible
granularity, just to support users who can do without certain components.
The benefit must justify the additional cost of packaging and maintaining
the critical programs which coexist with the non-critical ones, and not
overcomplicating essential infrastructure.

 - mdz

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