[arch-dev-public] Proposal: minimal base system

Levente Polyak anthraxx at archlinux.org
Mon Jan 21 22:03:02 UTC 2019

# Proposal

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 current way of defining a minimal system via a group is non-optimal
for the following reasons:

- A group can’t enforce installation of packages when being extended or
- The current base group contains lots of unneeded packages
- Manually getting rid of some of the packages may result in broken deps

To overcome the disadvantages, a better way to handle a strictly defined
set would be a simple virtual base-system package that depends on the
bare minimum of what we define as given and required. This virtual
package can be changed/extended and every installation will pull it in
during the next system upgrade.

Everything that won’t be part of base-system needs to be added as a
dependency to all requiring packages; alternatively don't omit any first
level runtime dependencies at all.

This package should only depend on strictly required explicit packages
to get a working minimal Arch Linux system.

The proposed end result is:
- base: convenient helper group for quickly getting a working system
  when installing, must include the new base-system package
- base-system: package defining the minimum dependencies for a working
  base runtime

Possible candidates for the virtual package:

#### Base requirements:
- filesystem
- gcc-libs
- glibc
- bash
- coreutils

#### Distro requirements:
- licenses
- pacman
- systemd

#### Some POSIX tools
- coreutils
- file
- findutils
- gawk
- grep
- procps-ng
- sed
- tar
- gettext
- pciutils
- psmisc
- shadow
- util-linux
- bzip2
- gzip
- xz

#### Some networking tools
- iputils
- iproute2

## Alternative

Another approach would be, assuming we want to properly support tiny
containers, to reduce the above list even further to a bare minimum of
running pacman and not omit any further 1st level runtime dependencies
in our packages.

## Short summary

- Use a virtual package instead of a group for the bare minimum

Option 1:
- Define a base-system virtual package as a required set of packages
  containing something like a POSIX interactive runtime environment

Option 2:
- Reduce the set even further to aid tiny containers and don't omit any
  other 1st level runtime dependency in packages
- We could additionally still have a smaller set for a POSIX interactive
  runtime environment for convenience

PS: Please focus on the abstract before bikeshedding whether single
    packages should or should not be added


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