[arch-dev-public] Follow-up on the “Proposal: minimal base system”

Bruno Pagani bruno.n.pagani at gmail.com
Sun Mar 17 18:07:23 UTC 2019

Hi there,

This is a follow-up on the last month discussion about a “minimal base

# 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.


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