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Re: armel after Stretch (was: Summary of the ARM ports BoF at DC16)

Roger Shimizu wrote...

> I'm ARM porter on armel/marvell (orion5x/kirkwood).
> Stretch will be frozen and released soon, which makes me bit depressed, 
> because it means armel will be dropped out of unstable/testing as the 
> conclusion of Cape Town BoF.

Same here. My Dockstars (orion5x/kirkwood) still work like a charm and
it gives a bad feeling having to trash them some day just because
there's no support any more.

On the other hand, they face another problem I guess is typical for
that generation, just by the age: Memory. So for quite some time I
wanted to start a thread here but there are too many other things I
have to take care of. Now however that the discussion has started ...
I would have written something like the following:

As far as I know, there is no such thing as "minimal hardware
requirement" for Debian besides some lines in the installer pages. For
RAM, the minimum value is 128 megabytes, and I think it's about time
to raise that. Yes, you can run Debian on that but it's not fun:

Locale generation needs a lot of RAM. You can work around it by
installing locales-all which however takes long time to install on
slow flash drives. Or disable locales entirely. Err.

Side-effects of over-eagerly used xz compression. This is a relict of
time when xz was pretty new and maintainers added the -9 compression
option, probably completely unaware this makes no sense for small
packages, unlike gzip or bzip2. Also, even unpacking unconditionally
allocates some 65 Mbyte memory then, easiliy driving a 128 Mbyte-box
to the limits. One of the worst is the traceroute package that
actually carries some 110 kbyte; however I was unable to install it
due to the above problem.

The amount of data apt deals with reflects more or less the size of
the Packages indexes. As they get bigger each release, this will
become a problem. Already now apt gets OOM-killed every now and then.

About xz, I considered doing a MBF (severity normal the most) asking
to end this, it's about 45 packages.

About apt I have an idea to provide "reduced" Packages indexes. They
would be smaller so the memory usage is no longer a problem, also apt
should become somewhat faster. But since it's virtually impossible to
create a complete subset, I'd declare incompleteness a feature: If
somebody manages to hit the limits by requesting installation of
packages that are referenced only - tough luck, use the full index,
please. But somebody would have to promote and maintain that feature.

Another way to deal with this however was to raise the minimum memory
requirements. To 256 MB, or perhaps even 512 MB. It feels wrong since
it works around a problem instead of solving it. But since all
components become more greedy over time, this will have to be done
sooner or later anyway. And will render armel de-facto obsolete.

Still I wouldn't mind armel in buster, perhaps restricted to armv5.
But I understand the odds aren't quite in favour.


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