Are the optional programs really optional? (IT Toolbox Blogs)

For a long time, I wanted the meanest and leanest Linux computing machine I could ever have. So much so that I went through Linux from scratch and used Gentoo for many years all in the effort of having my precious CPU cycles used to the best and most effective way possible and my hard disk is as free as possible for all the cat videos I would ever want to watch.

 

In that respect, I installed the absolute minimum programs that I needed. Both with Linux from scratch and with Gentoo. It worked well too. My Linux was compiled for my machine and my machine only, it used gigabytes less space than other distributions such as RedHat and Debian and memory usage was pretty much non-existant. I didn’t even use or need a swap partition or swap file for my daily usage.

 

However, there was a problem. There would be a time that would come and it came pretty regularly, where I would have to compile and recompile extra programs and existing programs to take advantage of those extra programs in order to be able to use a feature which, while I didn’t need before, I most certainly needed now and as soon as possible. Whew! That was one long sentence!

 

In an example, somebody would bring in a camera and want to copy their pictures to my computer. It didn’t support that camera because I had not set that support up. So I would have to madly add that support in and get the camera working. The same sort of scenario would happen if I wanted to use a feature of an existing program and found out that I had not installed the “optional” programs needed to enable that feature. So I would have to again compile and install the “optional” programs and then also re-compile the existing programs so they would be able to see the “optional” programs and make the feature that I wished for available.

 

In the end, after a relatively short time, my lean mean computing machine ended up as bloated with these “optional” programs as any other regular distribution. The hard disk space and memory usage were the same as well.

 

This led me to the realisation that modern distributions have a reason for including certain programs automatically and it is not just distribution bloat. In time, those programs will be needed.

 

However, without having lived through the process myself I would never have realised it. So now, I simply install any “optional” programs that are recommended and trust that they will be there and ready when I do actually need them. After all, in the end, they will be installed anyway.

 

What do you think? Have you come to the same conclusion? Do you still try to make your computer a lean mean computing machine only to re-install previously removed “optional” programs? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

 
Linux
 
explanation
 
optional
 
bloatware

Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ February 28, 2017 at 02:15PM

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