Suggestion: Add minimal install option

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gm10
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by gm10 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:16 am

mingle wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:52 am
I'd love a minimal install, but for the moment I have to manual remove stuff. I have a 'fully-featured' Linux Mint install, but I also I have a requirement for a very trimmed-down/bare-bones install for some VMs I use, so get rid of pretty much all the pre-installed apps. It takes me a good hour, which is a bloody long time imo...
[...]
I run Mint xfce and after an install (no 3rd party add-ons), I use synaptic to remove all the apps found under the whisker menu, with the exception of a few of the accessories (calculator, catfish search, etc).
If you do this regularly then simply set up the VM once and then clone it (or if it's the same reset it to a snapshot). Or at least note down the packages you always remove, throw an apt purge --autoremove in front and you're done, too. Why would you repeatedly do this manually?
mingle wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:52 am
I've never had any issues with update manager/synaptic complaining about missing/broken dependencies.
Because as long as you use the regular means to remove a package (e.g. synaptic in your case) there's no possibility of that happening. That's the main reason for having the package management system - it keeps track of dependencies. If you try to remove something on which other software depends you will be warned (and given the possibility to remove the other software as well).
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mingle
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by mingle » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:13 pm

gm10 wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:16 am
If you do this regularly then simply set up the VM once and then clone it (or if it's the same reset it to a snapshot). Or at least note down the packages you always remove, throw an apt purge --autoremove in front and you're done, too. Why would you repeatedly do this manually?
I used to use a real, physical Mint machine, but swapped to VMs just after 19.0. I've cloned a few times since the, but for each new release of Mint I create a new 'baseline' VM, which I manually have to go through and clean-out all of the dross. Not a huge drama, but enough to be an inconvenience.
mingle wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:52 am
...as long as you use the regular means to remove a package (e.g. synaptic in your case) there's no possibility of that happening. That's the main reason for having the package management system - it keeps track of dependencies. If you try to remove something on which other software depends you will be warned (and given the possibility to remove the other software as well).
That's true. But one other issue I have (which is beyond the bounds of this thread) is how certain stuff is inexplicably tied to other packages; for example, when I tried to remove some image-processing libraries, Synaptic wanted to uninstall around 20 other packages, including most of the desktop environment.

Cheers,

Mike.

cjoliprsf
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by cjoliprsf » Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:13 am

gm10 wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:16 am
Or at least note down the packages you always remove, throw an apt purge --autoremove in front and you're done, too.
The problem with this approach in a VirtualBox VM is that it doesn't permit to reduce the size of the virtual disk file. The size of the file increases as some data is written by the guest OS on the virtual disk. But if some of this data is erased, the size of the file is not reduced.
Example: After a fresh install of Linux Mint something like 6 to 7 Gigs of disk space is used. Hence the virtual disk size will be approximately the same, say 7 Gigs, on the host computer disk. Now, let's say you purge all the programs that aren't needed, and that this operation purges 3 Gigs of data. From inside the VM, you'll effectively see 3 more Gigs of available disk space. However, the virtual disk size as seen by the host computer will remain at 7 Gigs - this number cannot decrease in a dynamic virtual disk.
This is why a minimal install would be so useful - after the fresh minimal install, the virtual disk could be somewhere around 2 to 3 Gigs in size, and with good management, it can remain that size. When you have many VMs, this difference in file size may be quite significative.

For my part, I use Mint as the main OS in 2 of my computers, and I'd love to use Mint also in my VMs, but the fact it doesn't provide a minimal install make it unpractical, so I use another distro (Q4OS in instance) for my virtual machines. With that OS, a fresh minimal install is just 1.7 Gig for the 32 bits version and 1.9 Gig in 64 bits. My working VMs have virtual disk files that may be at around 2.5 Gigs - something unapproachable if using Mint.

gm10
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by gm10 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:13 am

cjoliprsf wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:13 am
The problem with this approach in a VirtualBox VM is that it doesn't permit to reduce the size of the virtual disk file. The size of the file increases as some data is written by the guest OS on the virtual disk. But if some of this data is erased, the size of the file is not reduced.
Best argument so far, but then it would have to be a true minimal install option and not in the way Ubuntu performs it. Which basically means a redesign of the installer, so still unlikely.

Anyway, to reduce your dynamic virtual disk in size, run this in your virtual machine:

Code: Select all

dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/tmp/tmpfile bs=4096k;rm /var/tmp/tmpfile
Then shut the VM down, and now on the host run this:

Code: Select all

vboxmanage modifymedium --compact /path/to/virtualdisk.vdi
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cjoliprsf
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by cjoliprsf » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:23 pm

gm10 wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:13 am
Best argument so far, but then it would have to be a true minimal install option and not in the way Ubuntu performs it. Which basically means a redesign of the installer, so still unlikely.
If it doesn't happen, it isn't such a big deal as there are other options out there that permit building a virtual machine with a small footprint. Just that it would be nice if we could do it with Mint. I do understand that the developers may have other things to do that they consider more important - although I don't think it would be such a chore to offer for download a "minimal install" iso in addition to the standard "full install" iso. Such a minimal install iso could be recommended for installation in VMs and on very small partitions or even on USB sticks.

gm10
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by gm10 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:41 pm

cjoliprsf wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:23 pm
although I don't think it would be such a chore to offer for download a "minimal install" iso in addition to the standard "full install" iso. Such a minimal install iso could be recommended for installation in VMs and on very small partitions or even on USB sticks.
I agree, that would likely be the best way to implement it, a pure installer without live environment for the core system only, not even a desktop environment. But how many Mint users would use it? I still think it's very niche considering the type of user base.
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cjoliprsf
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by cjoliprsf » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:06 pm

gm10 wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:41 pm
I agree, that would likely be the best way to implement it, a pure installer without live environment for the core system only, not even a desktop environment. But how many Mint users would use it? I still think it's very niche considering the type of user base.
Hard to say. But my perception, for what it's worth (and I am no expert), is that quite a number of Mint users that have already installed the system a few times and know exactly what they need would prefer such an installer. But I might be wrong...
I gather this potential installer you refer to, that would only install the core system, would yield a terminal mode. Then the user could install the DE of his choice by a sudo apt install command followed by the name of the desktop he wants: cinnamon, mate or xfce. Yes, that would be great.

gm10
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by gm10 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:20 pm

cjoliprsf wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:06 pm
I gather this potential installer you refer to, that would only install the core system, would yield a terminal mode. Then the user could install the DE of his choice by a sudo apt install command followed by the name of the desktop he wants: cinnamon, mate or xfce. Yes, that would be great.
Yes, that's what I was thinking. I'm not actually sure which one I would use. I'd still end up downloading the live environment either way because it's useful to have at hand, but it's possible I would prefer to install using the minimal installer - I have my installation process fully scripted, anyway, so same difference. Not sure which one would be faster actually, considering the live environment front-loads the download time.
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by cjoliprsf » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:00 pm

gm10 wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:20 pm
I'm not actually sure which one I would use. I'd still end up downloading the live environment either way because it's useful to have at hand, but it's possible I would prefer to install using the minimal installer - I have my installation process fully scripted, anyway, so same difference. Not sure which one would be faster actually, considering the live environment front-loads the download time.
Well, I'll let you figure the details...
If you'd like me to test something and have my opinion as a user, you can send me a PM.

gm10
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by gm10 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:23 am

cjoliprsf wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:00 pm
Well, I'll let you figure the details...
If you'd like me to test something and have my opinion as a user, you can send me a PM.
Oh, I am sorry if you misunderstood, but I am just another user here, I do not contribute to Mint (anymore).
Tune up your LM 19.x: ppa:gm10/linuxmint-tools

rene
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by rene » Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:29 am

cjoliprsf wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:13 am
The problem with this approach in a VirtualBox VM is that it doesn't permit to reduce the size of the virtual disk file.
That's not actually true; VBoxManage can shrink down a virtual disk: https://superuser.com/questions/529149/ ... -file-size

I have for what it's worth by the way been contemplating that VB could use ATA TRIM for this in in its "disk" driver to do this automatically. I.e., now that we in these SSD days tell the hardware which space we're not in fact using after all, VB's driver could use that for automatic compacting...

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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by cjoliprsf » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:07 pm

gm10 wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:23 am
Oh, I am sorry if you misunderstood, but I am just another user here, I do not contribute to Mint (anymore).
Oh well, no one is perfect!!!
rene wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:29 am
That's not actually true; VBoxManage can shrink down a virtual disk: https://superuser.com/questions/529149/ ... -file-size
Thanks for the tip. I'll check if this also works with a vmdk virtual disk.

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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by Monsta » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:48 am

cjoliprsf wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:07 pm
Thanks for the tip. I'll check if this also works with a vmdk virtual disk.
According to docs, both modifymedium command with --compact option and storageattach command with --discard option require VDI image format.

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thx-1138
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Re: Suggestion: Add minimal install option

Post by thx-1138 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:51 am

cjoliprsf wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:07 pm
...............................
...you can use this very nice & effective program to shrink most common VM dynamic disk images (& filesystems).
For optimum results, you'd still need to first zero-out the unused blocks from inside the (whatever) VM first
(see previous replies above...depending on the filesystem / OS, dd if=/dev/zero, sdelete etc).

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