Reducing the Essential set

This is probably a wild idea, but might be perhaps interesting to explore?

The Essential:yes set poses problems in scenarios where size is limited, or when bootstrapping a distribution.

See also BusterPriorityRequalification.

Some of the packages involved in the boot sequence could be switched from Essential:yes to Protected:yes, which has the same effect for dpkg, apt and frontends.

Executables statically linked against glibc (/sbin/ldconfig in the essential set) can be built against musl or so, for >900KB savings a pop.

Trimming changelogs, stripping extra documentation to separate packages, etc, can also be good.