This is a follow-up on the last month discussion about a “minimal base system”.
# Reminder of the starting statement
There is no strict definition of what a minimal Arch Linux system
installation must contain. However in reality we mostly don’t add any packages that are in the base group as a dependency to other packages, which basically makes it a hard requirement.
The corollary being that, since we don’t actually enforce `base` as a policy, some breakage might (and does) happen when people remove part of it from their system.
Following on that, the discussion was about implementing a metapackage with a stricter set of packages to be required as installed on any Arch system, and whether or not to keep the `base` group in addition. From this discussion and parallel ones that happened on IRC, I can summarize three important questions (that are, notice, actually independent of the exact content of base-whatever):
1. There is a disagreement on the `base` group purpose: should it just be a convenient helper to bootstrap an Arch system quickly and/or also be used as a set of assumed installed dependencies?
2. Are people actually wanting to be able to assume some installed dependencies at all, and if so, what are they argument(s) for not listing some, e.g. `glibc`? I haven’t seen many apart from “don’t want to list tons of dependency in my PKGBUILD” or “no sane system wouldn’t have it”, and we can discuss whether those are valid one or not, but since the discussion wasn’t happening on that point particularly, there may also be some others that have escaped me.
3. Although it could seems not deeply related at first, what about transitive dependencies (e.g. package A depending on B and C, but only listing B because this one already depends on C)? Here again, breakage happens because of this (when B stop depending on C, which A maintainer cannot be reasonably expected to track), and I’ve only heard “don’t want to list tons of dependency in my PKGBUILD”.
Before going further on any proposal in those directions, I’ve thought it surely requires more input, and not only from the ~10 people at most that already participated in those discussions (but still should, because points have changed a bit) since we are discussing distro-wide policy on dependencies here.