Bootstrappable Debian - New Milestone

categories: debian

This post is about the port bootstrap build ordering tool (naming suggestions welcome) which was started as a Debian Google Summer of Code project in 2012 and continued to be developed afterwards. Sources are available through gitorious.

In the end of November 2012, I managed to put down an approximation algorithm to the feedback arc set problem which allowed to break the dependency graph into a directed acyclic graph with only few removed build dependencies. I wrote about this effort on our mailinglist but didnt mention it here because it was still too much of a proof-of-concept. Later, in January 2013, I mentioned the result of this algorithm in an email wookey and me wrote to debian-devel mailinglist.

Many things happened since November 2012:

Processing pipeline instead of monolithic tools

The tools I developed so far tried to accomplish everything by themselves, reusing functionality implemented in a central library. Therefor, if one wanted to try out even trivial new things, it mostly meant to hack some OCaml code. Pietro Abate suggested to instead develop smaller tools which could work independently of each other, would only execute one algorithm each and could easily be connected together in different ways to achieve different effects.

This switch is now done and all functionality from the old tools is moved into a new toolset. The exchange format between the tools is either plain text files in deb822 control format (Packages/Sources files) or a dependency graph. The dependency graph is currently marshalled by OCaml but future versions should work with just passing a GraphML (an XML graph format) representation around.

This new way of doing things seems close to the UNIX philosophy (each program does one thing well, data is stored as text, every program is a filter). For example the deb822 control output can easily be manipulated using grep-dctrl(1) and there exist many tools which can read, analyze and manipulate GraphML. It is a big improvement over the old, monolithic tools which did not allow to manipulate any intermediate result by external, existing tools. Currently, a shell script ( will execute all tools in a meaningful order, connecting them together correctly. The same tools will be used for a future but they will be connected differently.

I wrote about a first proposal of what the individual tools should do and how they should be connected in this email from which I also linked a confusing overview of the pipeline. This overview has recently been improved to be even more confusing and the current version of the lower half (the native part) now looks like this:

native reduced

Solid arrows represent a flow of binary packages, dottend arrows represent a flow of source packages, ovals represent a set of packages, boxes with rounded corners represent set operations, rectangular boxes represent filters. There is only one input to a filter, which is the arrow connected to the top of the box. Outgoing arrows from the bottom represent the filtered input. Ingoing arrows to either side are arguments to the filter and control how the filter behaves depending on the algorithm. I will explain this better once the pipeline proved to be less in flux. The pipeline is currently executed like this by

Two new ways to break dependency cycles have been discovered

So far, we knew of three ways to formally break dependency cycles:

  • remove build dependencies through build profiles
  • find out that the build dependency is only used to build arch:all packages and therefor put it into Build-Depends-Indep
  • cross compile some source packages

Two new methods can be added to the above:

Dependency graph definition changed

Back in September when I was visiting irill, Pietro found a flaw in how the dependency graph used to be generated. He supplied a new definition of the dependency graph which does away with the problem he found. After fixing some small issues with his code, I changed all the existing algorithms to use the new graph definition. The old graph is as of today removed from the repository. Thanks to Pietro for supplying the new graph definition - I must still admit that my OCaml foo is not strong enough to have come up with his code.

Added complexity for profile built source packages

As mentioned in the introduction, wookey and me addressed the debian-devel list with a proposal on necessary changes for an automated bootstrapping of Debian. During the discussiong, two important things came up which are to be considered by the dependency graph algorithms:

  • profile built source packages may not create all binary packages
  • profile built source packages may need additional build dependencies

Both things make it necessary to alter the dependency graph during the generation of a feedback arc set and feedback vertex set beyond the simple removal of edges. Luckily, the developed approximation algorithms can be extended to support such changes in the graph.

Different feedback arc set algorithms

The initially developed feedback arc set algorithm is well suited to discover build dependency edges which should be dropped. It performs far worse when creating the final build order because it only considers edges by itself and not how many edges of a source package can be dropped by profile building it.

The adjusted algorithm for generating a build order is more of a feedback vertex set algorithm because instead of greedily finding the edge with most cycles through it, it greedily finds the source package which would break most cycles if it was profile built.

Generating a build order with less profile built source packages

After implementing all the features above I now feel more confident to publish the current status of the tools to a wider audience.

The following test shows a run of the aforementioned ./ shell script. Its final output is a list of source packages which have to be profile built and a build order. Using the resulting build order, starting from a minimal build system (essential:yes, build-essential and debhelper), all source packages will be compiled which are needed to compile all binary packages in the system. The result will therefor be a list of source and binary packages which fulfill the following property:

  • all binary packages can be built from the available source packages
  • all source packages can be built with the available binary packages

I called this a "reduceded distribution" in earlier posts. The interesting property of this specific selection is, that it contains the biggest problem set of Debian when bootstrapping it: a 900 to 1000 nodes big strongly connected component. Here is a visualization of the problem:

hideous mess

Source packages do not yet come with build profiles and the cross build situation can not yet be analyzed, so the following assumptions were made:

The last point is about 14 build dependencies which were decided to be broken by the feedback arc set algorithm but for which other data sources did not indicate that they are actually breakable. Those 14 are dynamically generated by

If above assumptions should not be too far from the actual situation, then not more than 73 source packages have to be modified to bootstrap a reduced distribution. This reduced distribution even includes dependency-wise "big" packages like webkit, metacity, iceweasel, network-manager, tracker, gnome-panel, evolution-data-server, kde-runtime, libav and nautilus. By changing one line in one could easily develop a build order which generates gnome-desktop or really any given (meta-)package selection.

All of takes only 80 seconds to execute on my system (Core i5, 2.5 GHz, singlethreaded). Here is the final build order which creates 2044 binary packages from 613 source packages.

  1. nspr, libio-pty-perl, libmcrypt, unzip, libdbi-perl, cdparanoia, libelf, c-ares, liblocale-gettext-perl, libibverbs, numactl, ilmbase, tbb, check, libogg, libatomic-ops, libnl($), orc($), libaio, tcl8.4, kmod, libgsm, lame, opencore-amr, tcl8.5, exuberant-ctags, mhash, libtext-iconv-perl, libutempter, pciutils, gperf, hspell, recode, tcp-wrappers, fdupes, chrpath, libbsd, zip, procps, wireless-tools, cpufrequtils, ed, libjpeg8, hesiod, pax, less, dietlibc, netkit-telnet, psmisc, docbook-to-man, libhtml-parser-perl, libonig, opensp($), libterm-size-perl, linux86, libxmltok, db-defaults, java-common, sharutils, libgpg-error, hardening-wrapper, cvsps, p11-kit, libyaml, diffstat, m4
  2. openexr, enca, help2man, speex, libvorbis, libid3tag, patch, openjade1.3, openjade, expat, fakeroot, libgcrypt11($), ustr, sysvinit, netcat, libirman, html2text, libmad, pth, clucene-core, libdaemon($), texinfo, popt, net-tools, tar, libsigsegv, gmp, patchutils($), dirac, cunit, bridge-utils, expect, libgc, nettle, elfutils, jade, bison
  3. sed, indent, findutils, fastjar, cpio, chicken, bzip2, aspell, realpath, dctrl-tools, rsync, ctdb, pkg-config($), libarchive, gpgme1.0, exempi, pump, re2c, klibc, gzip, gawk, flex-old, original-awk, mawk, libtasn1-3($), flex($), libtool
  4. libcap2, mksh, readline6, libcdio, libpipeline, libcroco, schroedinger, desktop-file-utils, eina, fribidi, libusb, binfmt-support, silgraphite2.0, atk1.0($), perl, gnutls26($), netcat-openbsd, ossp-uuid, gsl, libnfnetlink, sg3-utils, jbigkit, lua5.1, unixodbc, sqlite, wayland, radvd, open-iscsi, libpcap, linux-atm, gdbm, id3lib3.8.3, vo-aacenc, vo-amrwbenc, fam, faad2, hunspell, dpkg, tslib, libart-lgpl, libidl, dh-exec, giflib, openslp-dfsg, ppl($), xutils-dev, blcr, bc, time, libdatrie, libpthread-stubs, guile-1.8, libev, attr, libsigc++-2.0, pixman, libpng, libssh2, sqlite3, acpica-unix, acl, a52dec
  5. json-c, cloog-ppl, libverto, glibmm2.4, rtmpdump, libdbd-sqlite3-perl, nss, freetds, slang2, libpciaccess, iptables, e2fsprogs, libnetfilter-conntrack, bash, libthai, python2.6($), libice($), libpaper, libfontenc($), libxau, libxdmcp($), openldap($), cyrus-sasl2($), openssl, python2.7($)
  6. psutils, libevent, stunnel4, libnet-ssleay-perl, libffi, readline5, file, libvoikko, gamin, libieee1284, build-essential, libcap-ng($), lcms($), keyutils, libxml2, libxml++2.6, gcc-4.6($), binutils, dbus($), libsm($), libxslt, doxygen($)
  7. liblqr, rarian, xmlto, policykit-1($), libxml-parser-perl, tdb, devscripts, eet, libasyncns, libusbx, icu, linux, libmng, shadow, xmlstarlet, tidy, gavl, flac, dbus-glib($), libxcb, apr, krb5, alsa-lib
  8. usbutils, enchant, neon27, uw-imap, libsndfile, yasm, xcb-util, gconf($), shared-mime-info($), audiofile, ijs($), jbig2dec, libx11($)
  9. esound, freetype, libxkbfile, xvidcore, xcb-util-image, udev($), libxfixes, libxext($), libxt, libxrender
  10. tk8.4, startup-notification, libatasmart, fontconfig, libxp, libdmx, libvdpau, libdrm, libxres, directfb, libxv, libxxf86dga, libxxf86vm, pcsc-lite, libxss, libxcomposite, libxcursor, libxdamage, libxi($), libxinerama, libxrandr, libxmu($), libxpm, libxfont($)
  11. xfonts-utils, libxvmc, xauth, libxtst($), libxaw($)
  12. pmake, corosync, x11-xserver-utils, x11-xkb-utils, coreutils, xft, nas, cairo
  13. libedit, cairomm, tk8.5, openais, pango1.0($)
  14. ocaml, blt, ruby1.8, firebird2.5, heimdal, lvm2($)
  15. cvs($), python-stdlib-extensions, parted, llvm-2.9, ruby1.9.1, findlib, qt4-x11($)
  16. xen, mesa, audit($), avahi($)
  17. x11-utils, xorg-server, freeglut, libva
  18. jasper, tiff3, python3.2($)
  19. openjpeg, qt-assistant-compat, v4l-utils, qca2, jinja2, markupsafe, lcms2, sip4, imlib2, netpbm-free, cracklib2, cups($), postgresql-9.1
  20. py3cairo, pycairo, pam, libgnomecups, gobject-introspection($)
  21. gdk-pixbuf, libgnomeprint, gnome-menus, gsettings-desktop-schemas, pangomm, consolekit, vala-0.16($), colord($), atkmm1.6
  22. libgee, gtk+3.0($), gtk+2.0($)
  23. gtkmm2.4, poppler($), openssh, libglade2, libiodbc2, gcr($), libwmf, systemd($), gcj-4.7, java-atk-wrapper($)
  24. torque, ecj($), vala-0.14, gnome-keyring($), gcc-defaults, gnome-vfs($)
  25. libidn, libgnome-keyring($), openmpi
  26. mpi-defaults, dnsmasq, wget, lynx-cur, ghostscript, curl
  27. fftw3, gnupg, libquvi, xmlrpc-c, raptor, liboauth, groff, fftw, boost1.49, apt
  28. boost-defaults, libsamplerate, cmake, python-apt
  29. qjson, qtzeitgeist, libssh, qimageblitz, pkg-kde-tools, libical, dwarves-dfsg, automoc, attica, yajl, source-highlight, pygobject, pygobject-2, mysql-5.5($)
  30. libdbd-mysql-perl, polkit-qt-1, libdbusmenu-qt, raptor2, dbus-python, apr-util
  31. rasqal, serf, subversion($), apache2
  32. git, redland
  33. xz-utils, util-linux, rpm, man-db, make-dfsg, libvisual, cryptsetup, libgd2, gstreamer0.10
  34. mscgen, texlive-bin
  35. dvipng, luatex
  36. libconfig, transfig, augeas, blas, libcaca, autogen, libdbi, linuxdoc-tools, gdb, gpm
  37. ncurses, python-numpy($), rrdtool, w3m, iproute, gcc-4.7, libtheora($), gcc-4.4
  38. libraw1394, base-passwd, lm-sensors, netcf, eglibc, gst-plugins-base0.10
  39. libiec61883, qtwebkit, libvirt, libdc1394-22, net-snmp, jack-audio-connection-kit($), bluez
  40. redhat-cluster, gvfs($), pulseaudio($)
  41. phonon, libsdl1.2, openjdk-6($)
  42. phonon-backend-gstreamer($), gettext, libbluray, db, swi-prolog, qdbm, swig2.0($)
  43. highlight, libselinux, talloc, libhdate, libftdi, libplist, python-qt4, libprelude, libsemanage, php5
  44. samba, usbmuxd, libvpx, lirc, bsdmainutils, libiptcdata, libgtop2, libgsf, telepathy-glib, libwnck3, libnotify, libunique3, gnome-desktop3, gmime, glib2.0, json-glib, libgnomecanvas, libcanberra, orbit2, udisks, d-conf, libgusb
  45. libgnomeprintui, libimobiledevice, nautilus($), libbonobo, librsvg
  46. evas, wxwidgets2.8, upower, gnome-disk-utility, libgnome
  47. ecore, libbonoboui
  48. libgnomeui
  49. graphviz
  50. exiv2, libexif, lapack, soprano, libnl3, dbus-c++
  51. atlas, libffado, graphicsmagick, libgphoto2, network-manager
  52. pygtk, jackd2, sane-backends, djvulibre
  53. libav($), gpac($), ntrack, python-imaging, imagemagick, dia
  54. x264($), matplotlib, iceweasel
  55. strigi, opencv, libproxy($), ffms2
  56. kde4libs, frei0r, glib-networking
  57. kde-baseapps, kate, libsoup2.4
  58. geoclue, kde-runtime, totem-pl-parser, libgweather, librest, libgdata
  59. webkit
  60. zenity, gnome-online-accounts
  61. metacity, evolution-data-server
  62. gnome-panel
  63. tracker

The final recompilation of profile built source packages is omitted. Source packages marked with a ($) are selected to be profile built. All source packages listed in the same line can be built in parallel as they do not depend upon each other.

This order looks convincing as it first compiles a multitude of source packages which have no or only few build dependencies lacking. Later steps allow fewer source packages to be compiled in parallel. The amount of needed build dependencies is highest in the source packages that are built last.

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