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Proper way to depend on an icon theme


I failed to find any documentation on how to properly depend on icon
themes. After reading the fd.o icon theme specification[1], it looks
like the specification doesn't cover what "base" icons must be present
in a theme. That could mean that packages that use those specific
icons need to depend on specific icon themes or provide their own
icons, because there's no guarantee that any installed icon theme
might come with the icons the package requires.

Taking a look at some random examples in the repository, I see that
network-manager-gnome depends specifically on gnome-icon-theme. That
may be because only gnome-icon-themes are guaranteed to provide the
necessary icons. On the other hand, the package arista depends on
either gnome-icon-theme or 8 other specific icon themes.

I can look at packages.d.o and check what packages provide the icons I
need for the package I'm considering packaging, but this seems rather
fragile. Is there anything else that can be done? If some basic icons
could be guaranteed to exist, couldn't we abstract them into a virtual

Pointers to references or any previous discussions are also greatly appreciated.

[1]: http://standards.freedesktop.org/icon-theme-spec/icon-theme-spec-latest.html

Thanks in advance,

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