Installing recommends and the CD size

Steve Langasek steve.langasek at
Thu Aug 21 05:25:11 BST 2008

On Mon, Aug 18, 2008 at 08:40:38AM -0700, Scott Ritchie wrote:
> Martin Pitt wrote:
> > My feeling is that part of Ubuntu's success is that it is slick and
> > small, not overloaded with features, quick to download, and has one
> > tool for one purpose (our original design goal). I appreciate that we
> > can't always follow the latter, since upstream imposes a lot of weird
> > stuff on us (like forcing us to install three HTML rendering engines
> > on CDs, xulrunner, gtkhtml, and now webkit, or quite a lot of
> > programming languages (Mono, JRE, Python, etc), but our constant
> > struggle for space forces us to stay aware of these issues, sort them
> > out as soon as possible, and keeps us from building up too much cruft.
> > As such, the limited CD space has its advantages, too.

> Perhaps Intrepid is not it, but there will come a time in the future
> when the size of all necessary packages becomes too large, the abundance
> of DVD Writers becomes sufficient, and it no longer makes sense to make
> just a CD.

The cost of disk space seems to drop at a much faster rate than the cost of
bandwidth (which stands to reason, really); people may have DVD burners, but
the cost (to the mirrors, and to the users) of downloading full-sized DVD
images is still going to be significant for the foreseeable future, I think.

I also think we're still far from running out of cruft that we can squeeze
out of the CDs.  There's still redundant functionality there - especially
where HTML rendering is concerned! - and having the hard upper limit on the
size of the base system is very valuable in getting developers to think
about creative ways to keep the size down without sacrificing functionality
(or, in the worst case, making hard decisions about which functionality
should be sacrificed in order to continue providing users with a
reasonably-sized OS).

As a recent example, we recovered an incredible amount of CD space recently
(IIRC, 8MB vs. hardy, and 14MB vs. the most recent intrepid daily where we
were running into the problem) by doing the right thing with
libgweather-common.  When we can still find 1-2% fat to trim with a single
cut, I don't think it's time to give up on fitting an OS on a CD.

As for whether we'll recognize when it's time to shift to larger media as
the default, I have no doubt.  I expect there'll continue to be pressure
from the other direction, to remind us to revisit the question at least once
a release cycle. :)

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                          
slangasek at                                     vorlon at

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