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Old 09-15-2018, 05:51 AM   #1
hazel
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Bloated software: even LFS is no longer minimalist


For some years now Linux From Scratch has been my favourite distro. It's not just that it's fun to create an LFS system; it's also nice to have a Linux distro that contains only the programs that I want to use and not a lot of unnecessary cruft. A new LFS book comes out about every six months and I use the old system as the host to build the new one, then install the same basic set of applications.

But lately even LFS has ceased to be minimalist. The LFS core now includes Python3, hardly basic software. It is needed to run meson and ninja, which some packages are now using for their builds. If you then want a graphical desktop, you must also install Python2 because X needs it.

Well, I gritted my teeth last year about the two Python environments. But yesterday I tried to build the Gimp in my new LFS 8.3, and found that it has acquired a huge new set of required dependencies. One of them is glib-networking, which in turn requires gnutls. I can tolerate that because I need gnutls anyway for claws, my favourite email client. But why on earth should a graphical program need networking software? There are also a lot of new libraries, one of which turned out to require rust.

For those who haven't met rust yet, it's a new programming language which comes with a complete build environment. All to build a minor library which the gimp developers have apparently decided they can't do without. I give up! I shall have to find myself another graphics program, maybe myPaint.

I was thinking of putting this post in the LFS forum, but it isn't really an LFS problem, it's a Linux problem. The LFS team are probably no happier with this trend to more and more bloat than I am. The point is that in the past you had the choice: you could run a standard distro with a lot of bloat, like Ubuntu, or you could go for something lean and mean. Linux is about choice, right? Not any more, it isn't.

While the flame wars rage about systemd, this has been creeping up on us unnoticed. Surely there has to be an alternative.

Last edited by hazel; 09-15-2018 at 05:53 AM.
 
Old 09-15-2018, 06:14 AM   #2
wpeckham
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When I want minimal, but with X, I run TinyCore. There is NO way to consider a package like GIMP minimal! Once you go to compiling your own applications you need the range of compilers and libs required. LFS was meant the be EFFICIENT and "Perfectly Tuned" to your hardware by being compiled on and for your hardware, it was never intended to really be minimal.

That said, you have a point. Many of the larger applications evolve to include newer libs and components compiled under newer tools expanding the requirements for a build. It is natural and understandable, but rather a pain.
 
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Old 09-15-2018, 06:32 AM   #3
hazel
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When I first started building the gimp, it required very little beyond babl, gegl, gtk and the standard graphics format libraries. More or less what you'd expect in a painting app. It's grown over the years like everything else.
 
Old 09-15-2018, 09:41 PM   #4
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I think the whole concept of "bloat" is overstated personally. Back when hardware and storage were limited it was an actual issue. Now it's just an ocd thing I think. Not a real problem. I gave up trying to be minimal awhile back, haven't lost anything by doing it either. My life is vastly simpler as well.
 
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Old 09-17-2018, 08:52 AM   #5
hazel
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I've been checking the Crux version of the gimp. It has a lot of dependencies including librsvg. When I looked at that, it was two minor versions down from the LFS one and did not require rust to build it.

Crux isn't bleeding edge but it is more up-to-date than, say, Debian Stable. Generally it uses the latest stable versions of software. So it is interesting to find it out of step here with LFS, which has a similar philosophy. I suspect that in this case, they stuck with the older version because having to use rust to build a minor library stuck in their craw.

Crux does use rust but only to build Firefox.
 
Old 09-17-2018, 11:49 AM   #6
DavidMcCann
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Perhaps the answer is to do what most of us do and get programs ready-compiled!
 
Old 09-17-2018, 08:40 PM   #7
wpeckham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
Perhaps the answer is to do what most of us do and get programs ready-compiled!
A worthy idea, but one that violates the entire philosophy and technical advantage of LFS! Why run the only distribution designed for every user to have a distribution compiled on and for that users specific hardware, if you are then going to install general binary applciations pre-compiled for widespread use?
 
Old 09-18-2018, 01:07 PM   #8
jmgibson1981
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What advantage does it offer? What tangible benefits does it provide other than feeling like a boss? I'm seriously asking. Not trying to flame or start a war.
 
Old 09-18-2018, 07:29 PM   #9
wpeckham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmgibson1981 View Post
What advantage does it offer? What tangible benefits does it provide other than feeling like a boss? I'm seriously asking. Not trying to flame or start a war.
With LFS you end up with and install that has every part literally compiled for and on, and optimized for and on, the hardware you are running it on. You also gain the experience of compiling every single package, with the little extra understanding and experience that implies. If you cannot see the advantage in that process, then more explanation is not going to help.

LFS is not for everyone, and I am not running it now myself. It is something that is educational and useful for educational purposes and a better understanding of optimization. If you do not need or want to understand (and MANY people only want Linux to "just work") then you do not need LFS. If you want to have an optimal distribution for your platform, or understand the tools better, then it is one of the better choices.

Even if you never plan to install LFS, I recommend visiting the site and reading some of the documentation and learning a bit about the process. (Because LFS is almost more about the process than about the results.) It is interesting.

Last edited by wpeckham; 09-18-2018 at 07:31 PM.
 
  


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