Removing single program from multi program packages

Mike Jones eternalorb at
Mon Mar 23 14:31:52 UTC 2009

Hi guys. Thanks for your detailed replies.

    I think I'm having a difficult time expressing what I'm trying to get
across. It's kind of a vague notion.

    My problem isn't that for me its difficult to either just remove the
package entirely (in this case, I don't play any of those games and don't
see a situation where I will want to for the foreseeable future. If it
decide I want to, I will simply install the package again.) I understand
that I can go to the terminal and remove or modify the portions of the
system I want to manually. (I recommend that you not suggest that to anyone
in the future. 60% of my time using Ubuntu is in a terminal, and I am more
than aware that mucking around in the system is a *bad* idea. I don't know
what files to modify in what order, and I doubt that it would be easy to
find the information within 5 minutes).

    The problem isn't that the space required for these packages is
bothersome. I'm fortunate enough to have relatively new hardware and plenty
of storage. The space needed for those extra games is effectively trivial
for me.

    In terms of repackaging the programs: I am more than appreciative of
those who spend their time packaging programs for Ubuntu. Even those who
package programs I don't use are appreciated. You're right. It would be
futile for me to repackage the collection of programs for my own personal
use. That would be silly.

    So I wanted to emphasise that I'm not a nieve user. I am a Software
Engineering student, and spend a large amount of time doing software
development at my job. I know a decent approximation of how the various
components that I concern myself with work. Well enough to know what I need
to look up, anyway.

    I think I really wanted to get across was "Whats keeping
apt/aptitude/gdebi/synaptic/add-remove/ what-have-you from being able to
cherry pick components of a package? Is there some hard and fast technical
limitation? Would anyone like to offer suggestions to me for where I can
look into improving the system? Is it feasable to do so?" Any time my tools
(In this case add-remove, or the other front-ends for the package manager)
tell me I can't do something I know I should be able to do, I'm bothered. A
non-advanced user is going to see that message reply and say "Well why the
hell can't I remove one of them? Just delete it!" I know they will. I heard
my brother screaming that the other day when he couldn't remove who knows
what. It is non-intuitive to not be able to remove or add single programs,
and instead be told to install entire packages. I understand the realistic
reasons why this is so, but it doesn't stop me from gritting my teeth from
what I see as an annoyance.

    I think that I was able to get myself across a little better. Let me
know if I was confusing still.


On Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 9:43 AM, Loïc Martin <loic.martin3 at> wrote:

> Mike Jones wrote:
>>    Is there just no way for a package maintaner to not have extra work
>> piled on their already hefty load while at the same time we allow a user of
>> Ubuntu to remove most traces of a program in a package with multiple
>> programs without having to also remove the rest of them? Is it worth doing
>> even if its possible? I think I'm in a somewhat unique position of having
>> extreme distaste whenever my system tells me I can't do something in a
>> counter intuitive way.
> You can remove the program and keep the other ones in the package actually
> - nothing is preventing you to do so, even the system. The cleanest solution
> would be for you to repackage gnome-games (or whatever name the package is
> called) for your personal use, while excluding the programs you don't want.
> Quite a lot of work for absolutely no gain, but could we expect Ubuntu
> developers and package maintainers to spend days doing that for us while we
> wouldn't spend the same amount of time ourselves (including the time
> googling for howtos and such)? Especially when they already have far more
> critical bugs to address (like when the programs don't even run, or when
> people can't install Ubuntu or run it on their machines ;) ).
> But all in all, nothing is preventing you to do what you want to achieve.
> Fact is, the way it's done now allows easy upgrades for millions of people
> who are quite please to see the selection of programs updated for each
> release, while said programs only take a few kb of space on their drives.
> And to be fair, when people are complaining they can't remove foo without
> removing bar or ubuntu-desktop, I always wonder why they point to programs
> that only takes a few kB of space while being oblivious to the hundreds of
> MB taken by fonts, translations, libraries, system utilities, drivers...
> they'd never use in a lifetime, but that are invaluable because they make
> peripherals, foreign languages documents and other things work out of the
> box in Linux.
> For space-constrained drives, there's Damn Small Linux, and if we were
> shooting for that goal I'm not so sure you'd find so many developers and
> packagers in Ubuntu.
> If unused programs are really an issue but you're not so tight on space to
> use DSL, the Ubuntu server install could probably address your needs better
> - just chose all the programs that you need one by one, and you'd  end up
> with far less programs than you'd have just trying to get rid of individual
> programs in multi-program packages that show in the menus. Such a difference
> it wouldn't be funny.
> Loďc
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