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embedded debian package management

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i want to use the debian package management system for an embedded 
distribution on a MIPS platform. i am not as much interrested in 
automatically building a static filesystem/kernel image, as in the 
possibility to interactively apt-get install/update/remove packages on the 
running system.

i have searched quite a bit on this topic and on the current status of 
projects and there seem to be quite a lot of approaches and ideas, but only 
little coordination of efforts and generally very vague information.

this is what i've found, please correct me if i'm wrong or if i missed 

* ipkg seems to be quite popular on ARM handhelds and the familiar 
distribution is may the biggest collection of "mini" debian packages. but i 
read more than one time that they would maybe rather use dpkg if the project 
would be started now. and i still dont know, how they make their mini 
packages - manually???

* busybox includes a "dpkg" and supposedly there is also a patch for "apt-get" 
(which i wasnt able to find unfortunately). this could be used instead of 
debians (bigger) dpkg and apt-get or ipkg but does not solve to broblem of 
making small packages.

* there has been talk that dpkg will support (supports?) finer granularity of 
packages (eg. the exclusion of doc/ directories or maybe a "priority-zation" 
of files). this would maybe - along with a smaller footprint dpkg - be the 
cleanest solution. what is the state of this discussion? or is this even 
already implemented?

* then there are udebs which are used by the debian installer, but aparently 
nobody really likes(?) ;)

* uclibc buildroot has nothing to do with debian generally, but has a quite 
complete information about cross-compiling issues and configurations for 
embedded systems in its makefiles.

* emdebsys concentrates more on the creation of filesystems fitting its kernel 
configuration, but aparently also takes the files out of debain packages and 
has some heuristics which ones to exclude.

i think the most important thing would be to have a common place where 
information about which parts of a package can be omitted in an embedded 
setup is kept, so we do not have to manually delete doc/ directories and 
figure out which files are essential on each different platform over and over 
again. i think the best place for this would be the debian packages itself, 
but if that is not feasible soon, there could be something external in the 
mean time.

then it would be nice to be able to (cross)-compile mini-packages instead of 
"normal" debs (maybe with another target in debian/rules?), also against 
other libraries (uclibc instead of glibc) and possibly with a different 
configuration (the debian packages tend to be configured to include almost 
every feature, which is maybe not needed on a small system).

this would essentially add a third "dimension" to debian: platform - 
stable/testing/unstable - size.

please update me on the current status of these projects and tell me what you 
think about these ideas.

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