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Revenge is not good. Once you're done. Believe me.

3 February 2010 21:50

I was interested to see Adnan Hodzic discuss life without evolution in the GNOME environment recently.

I too use GNOME as my desktop environment (I sometimes toy with various tiling window managers before getting annoyed at something or other).

My solution to the GNOME problem is to purge the gnome-desktop-environment package and instead my own local package gnome-desktop-minimal. This package is a meta-package which includes a smaller selection of GNOME packages, notably ignoring several that the gnome-core package would pull in such as eog - why install that when I prefer qiv or feh?

If I believed we could agree on precisely which packages to include I would submit a bug to the gnome team "Please provide gnome-desktop-minimal" or similar. Still I suspect individual biases/preferences will make such a suggestion contentious at best and impossible to satisfy at worst.

ObTitle: Léon



Comments on this entry

icon Anonymous at 20:23 on 3 February 2010

From my understanding, the gnome-desktop-environment metapackage intends to serve as the "minimal" alternative to the gnome metapackage.

(By the way, could you fix the markup you use for the comment textarea so it doesn't include eight spaces in its initial content?)

icon Steve Kemp at 20:24 on 3 February 2010

You're right. I get these meta-packages confused, and I have my own "minimal" version on my own machine(s).

I've updated the textarea markup now. Thanks!

icon Andreas Marschke at 20:30 on 3 February 2010

Hi! Could you please do an ITP for this little one that would be brilliant speciallly when you install it on a small device (such as an eee-pc).

icon Steve Kemp at 20:34 on 3 February 2010

I think that the preferences that I have for a "minimal GNOME desktop" are not going to be universal.

e.g. I see no need for eog, gedit, epiphany-browser, or other packages that others might prefer.

So with that in mind, and given how easy it is to make meta-only-packages, via equivs, I won't be submitting an ITP. However if an official one does surface I'd probably use it in preference to my own - providing it didn't install packages I don't like ... ;)

icon Simon McVittie at 21:05 on 3 February 2010

This sounds like an argument in favour of metapackages using Recommends rather than Depends. If gnome-core/gnome-d-e only Recommended things, you could (for instance) select the metapackage in aptitude, observe that eog was also selected for installation, mark eog as removed, then proceed to install gnome-but-without-eog. (This might only work in the curses UI, I don't know.)

Having said that, if you care enough about the exact software that's installed that having eog installed is unacceptable to you, you're probably not the target audience for a metapackage...

icon Emilio Pozuelo Monfort at 23:28 on 3 February 2010

There's gnome-core if you want the minimal stuff, and install your own selection on top of it.

icon RainCT at 19:54 on 4 February 2010

AFAIK Ubuntu has a patch which allows you to uninstall dependencies from packages in the "metapackage" category. Maybe I'd make sense to do the same in Debian.

icon gaffa at 21:22 on 4 February 2010

Why would you need a meta package, if you like customizing your desktop? The only reason I know for meta-packages is to provide a default environment and to let Debian easily change that default environment to add/change packages later. If you don't want the default Debian Gnome desktop environment anyway, why would you need a meta package for the desktop - or am I dumb and is there some other way of using meta-packages?

icon Steve Kemp at 21:27 on 4 February 2010

Meta-package save time and ensure that as I move around computers I don't get surprised that a particular package is missing.

In the past I had both "steve-desktop", and "steve-server" packages that would pull in apropriate packages. The latter would install mutt, screen, less, sudo, vim, for example.

These days I don't have an up to date server meta-package , but I do find the desktop one ideal. The only reason I mention it was because I do find it solves a problem:

  • You might want to ensure all the stuff you care about is present. Easily.
  • And at the same time might not want the full GNOME experience.

On that basis it is a win. As you suggest the the more manual approach of just not installing gnome-desktop-environment and doing things by hand is just as valid. It just takes longer, and if you have a few desktop systems it becomes a pain.

Even for small things automation is a win though, IMHO.

icon Steve Kemp at 21:28 on 4 February 2010

Emilo: gnome-core still installs too much. (As mentioned previously eog and gedit are two in particular; I have qiv & emacs...)

icon Np237 at 10:28 on 5 February 2010

There would be little value into reducing the set of packages in gnome-core any further. The idea of gnome-core is that you can log in and have something useful and functional. Without an image viewer and a text editor, you don’t even have a desktop computer, but a plastic box with a keyboard and a mouse.

As for the suggestions to move everything to Recommends like Ubuntu does: this just doesn’t work as expected with the current APT design. It would install the initial system fine, for sure. But when it comes to upgrades, newly added Recommends will not be installed automatically. Furthermore, aptitude has a tendency to remove packages that are not in Depends as soon as something is wrong (e.g. a transient dependency issue in unstable). In the long run, I don’t think this idea scales well.

icon gaffa at 17:08 on 5 February 2010

Your reply makes sense, Steve. I should probably do one for my three systems at home.

I like your blog btw!