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

On Fri, 20 Mar 2009 19:15:00 -0400
Filipus Klutiero <chealer@gmail.com> wrote:

> > 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/

Bah, my fault - 26Mb uncompressed. I was looking at /var/lib/apt/lists/

> > 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.

Any reduction, replicated across 13,000 packages (or even just the
ones from that 13,000 that have verbose long descriptions currently), is
only going to help reduce the size of the file.

> > 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

Only for use by apt-search, the rest of apt doesn't care about it. apt
understands debtags, why duplicate that information? (Frontends can be
adapted or just rely on apt-cache search underneath.)

>, 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.

Debian is not exclusively for power-hungry servers and mega-powerful
workstations, Debian also runs on very small hardware and not
necessarily old stuff either. It is a mistake to think that Debian
should require more and more powerful hardware for the basic system.

Yes, there is software in Debian that needs a powerful machine, there
is also a LOT of software in Debian specifically designed for low
resource machines where the benefits of a <1Mb Packages.gz file are


Neil Williams

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