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Extended descriptions size (was Re: RFC: Better formatting for long descriptions)

On Fri, 20 Mar 2009 14:45:09 +0100 (CET)
Andreas Tille <tillea@rki.de> wrote:

> I tried to find a clear advise how to reasonable format lists inside long
> descriptions of packages.  The only thing I know is that lines with two
> leading spaces is considered verbose.
Packages.gz is already 26Mb - I'd like to find ways to shorten the
package descriptions, not lengthen it. :-(
Current squeeze main Packages.gz is 7 MB: http://ftp.ca.debian.org/debian/dists/squeeze/main/binary-i386/
Can the long description be trimmed to only such data necessary to
identify the package compared to similar packages? We have debtags for
lots of other facets of a package description, maybe it is time that
the long description itself is trimmed so that it does not repeat any
information already encoded as debtags?
debtags is not yet at a stage where this should be done (for one thing, Synaptic, for "example", does not support debtags). Even if it would be possible, I doubt this would help much.
> The rationale behind this is that with some
> better standard formating some tools which display descriptions on web
> pages might be enhanced to use <li>, <ol> and <dl> tags which finally
> makes a better reading.

Oh no, please don't let Packages.gz get to 40Mb or 50Mb or more. There
has to be a limit somewhere.
I don't understand the proposal as something affecting Packages's size significantly.
What about a way of having a really long, detailed, nicely formatted
description on packages.debian.org but a much shorter, more basic
version in the Packages.gz file?
The extended description needs to be available to APT, not only via packages.d.o. I seem to remember that Mandrake Linux (or some other RPM-based distribution) used two Packages-like files, a fat one about 5 times our Packages and a slim one about a fifth of Debian's Packages. I remember finding the slim index cool, but now that there's Packages.diff, I think that developing Mandrake-like Packages files and seeing the results in, perhaps, 2 years, would not benefit much to the kind of hardware Debian will run on by then.

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