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Re: Depends/Recommends from libraries


On Thu, 2017-03-23 at 17:34:58 +0000, Ian Jackson wrote:
> Russ Allbery writes ("Re: Depends/Recommends from libraries"):
> >   It still feels like needless complexity to me,
> Here is an example I just found.

It does not turn out to be a very good example, I'm afraid. :)

> Try, in a fresh stretch chroot
>   apt-get --no-install-recommends install libgtkspell-dev
> Which you might reasonably do because you were building something
> which linked against libgtk-spell.  Or because you installed some
> portmanteau package like ocaml-libs.
> -dev libraries are typically installed because you want to build
> something, not necessarily because you wanted to _use_ the features of
> the runtime library.
> The list that comes out is humungous and contains many things that you
> probably didn't want.

But after checking that list, most of it comes from other -dev
packages and their shared library counterparts. The packages that you
list below are relatively tiny in comparison! Around ~15-20 MiB vs the
total ~280 MiB installed size.

> aspell ?  Well, at least the connection is clear, although it's
> clearly wrong to get it.

Yes, the problem is that dictionaries such as aspell-en, depend on
aspell, when they should just Recommend/Suggest it, primarily because
this adds an unnecessary dependency cycle, and because the data does
not require the program. Needs a bug filed.

> fontconfig ?  Probably pulled in pointlessly by one of the other
> librararies.

Pulled by libpango-1.0-0. I've checked and it seems currently
unnecessary, nothing in the source calls any «fc-*» command. It seems
to originate from the very beginning of the pango1.0 packaging source
history in svn, so probably just uncollected cruft. Needs a bug filed.

> dictionaries-common ?  That's a waste of a download.

Pulled by aspell-en → pulled by libenchant. AFAIK used to register
the dictionaries, which seems legitimate to me. (750 KiB)

> emacsen-common ?  Wow.

Pulled by dictionaries-common. Yeah I've always wondered about this
one, perhaps the packaging could be reworked to avoid it, but the
complexity implied might be too great for the few KiB that this
dependency introduces. (135 KiB)

> libgtk2.0-dev, which lots of things obviously build-depend on, pulls
> in fontconfig and gnome-icon-theme (a 10Mby download).  I can't
> believe you need gnome-icon-theme installed to compile gtk2 programs.

I could probably imagine a tool built during the build making use of it,
or while running test suites or similar. And while this is the biggest
of the non lib/-dev packages, trying to remove this dependeny would seem
wrong to me, as this is an implementation detail.

Perhaps one solution here could be to find a smaller compatible or mock
icon-theme, and depend on it as first option from the gtk -dev package.
But I'm not sure how that would play with apt when having to choose
between the first options in the libgtk-dev and libgtk. :)

In any case this is still inert data, and not huge in comparison to
the total size to be installed.