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Re: Installation of Recommends by default on October 1st

On Thu, Aug 02, 2007 at 06:35:40PM +0200, Joey Schulze wrote:
> Reinhard Tartler wrote:
> > Joey Schulze <joey@infodrom.org> writes:
> > 
> > > Shouldn't we then remove recommends entirely and turn them into
> > > regular Depends?
> > 
> > The sometime 'soft dependencies' called feature of Recommends and
> > Suggests is something which makes Debian unique compared to other
> > distributions. It would be sad to loose this.
> Don't we lose it already on October 1st when apt-get installs all
> Recommends per default?  It's ok for high-level tools like aptitude
> and Synaptic to behave that way, but I'm not exactly happy for
> apt-get to go that way.
I understand your concern, but I do not thing it will be like this. I
think it will make debian better by making it more flexible. It could
even lead to a *smaller* debian as some things that are currently
depends could become recommends. 

Take for example "gksu". It a wonderful application and a lot of
packages depend on it. My impression is that a lot of those depends
are because gksu is used in a .desktop file to start the application.
This seems to be the case for e.g. firestarter. Strictly speaking gksu
is not really a depends, the package works perfectly without gksu. So
it should be a recommend and powerusers can remove it (they use the
terminal anyway to start stuff). I'm pretty sure there are more such

The current recommends situaton is bad, but as I see it we have two 
a) change policy and say recommends should really be suggests
b) fix apt and go through the transition pain

Letting the current situation drag on forever is not really a solution
IMHO. And we have time to fix the reommends chain and to fix the tools
to better distinguish between real depends and recommends (that is not
ideal currently).

It is possible to see what packages got installed because they were
pulled in as recommends of other package. This makes use of the
automatic install information. With the current apt you can run:

# apt-get autoremove -o APT::AutoRemove::RecommendsImportant=false

to get those packages. There is currently no easy way to get this in
synaptic but that should be straightforward to implement. 

In summary I think that depends will not become another form of
depends and people will forget about them. Just the oposite, it will
be a benefit especially for the powerusers. Regular users will just
ignore them.

I understand that a lot of people are  not happy about a change like
this, but I think recommends-cleanup and improving our tools should
really make debian better and there is still time to work on the
remaining issues :) I guess my initial mail should have included much
more details and examples to explain the rational better.


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