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.
bash (we have dash Remove bash from Essential)
- diffutils (only? needed by dpkg conffile prompt, ~1 MiB)
- tar (used at least by dpkg, once that is switched to an internal implementation it could be dropped? ~2.8 MiB)
- perl-base (once no perl scripts in essential, ~4.7 MiB, this would also make the interpreter problem more tractable)
- findutils (once used by dpkg but not anymore, used by many maintscripts probably, ~1.5 MiB)
- bsdutils (~150 KiB)
- sensible-utils (out of pseudo-essential through debianutils depends, ~150 KiB → probably not worth it?)
- awk (pseudo-essential through base-files, ~200 KiB → probably not worth it)
Some of the packages involved in the boot sequence could be switched from Essential:yes to Important:yes, which has the same effect for apt and frontends, but not for dpkg (although perhaps dpkg should allow but warn about those removals).
e2fsprogs (once fsck out, findfs replaced by blkid lsblk, ~2.1 MiB) removal