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Build dependency inflation (was: Re: Core-updates merge)

From: Simon Josefsson
Subject: Build dependency inflation (was: Re: Core-updates merge)
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2023 19:56:38 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/27.1 (gnu/linux)

Andreas Enge <> writes:

> - Too much in Guix depends on too much else, which makes building things
>   needlessly entangled; in particular time zone data should not be referred
>   to by packages, but be loaded at runtime (Leo Famulari).

This is an important open problem -- is there any way to attack this
problem in a systematic way?  I guess it is hard to understand which
packages ends up depending on what since it is a large graph with long
cycles, and also to understand which build depencies are essential and
which are superficial, and thus consequently challenging to know where
to start working to reduce build dependencies?

I wonder if it is possible to graph all the build dependencies, and do
something like a monte-carlo what-if simulation: randomly pick one
build-dependency from the entire build-dependency graph and remove it,
and recompute the graph.  If the difference between these two graphs
leads to a significantly lower total build computational cost than
before, we may be on to something.  My theory is that "true" build
dependencies will show up in so many places that removing just one
instance of it will not affect total build time.  But "needless" build
dependencies may occur just once or few times, and this approach would
catch low-hanging fruit to work on.  Maybe the simulation needs to be
done on more than just removing one build-dependency, it could play
what-if games removing two build-dependencies etc, or three random
build-dependencies, and so on.  Maybe my idea is flawed, and this will
only lead to a list of build-dependencies that are impossible to get rid
off anyway.

Is there some other method to understand what build dependencies would
be important to remove, to speed up total rebuild time?

Maybe we could analyze how much of a particular build-dependency
actually is used by a particular build?  By looking into file-access
patterns etc.


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