The Unclear Impact

Debian scares me with the tracker-miner. It's obscure, buggy behavior is an insult, but that it cannot be removed is worse.

When a naive user tries to remove tracker-miner, Debian removes all of Gnome.

Tracker-miner is Gnome's file indexing software, but it often bugs out and has for decades now.

As a matter of fact, the Gnome package in Debian insists on several packages like it.

Look at this image, where I'm installing the "core" of Gnome here:

@paullammers Mine once filled my hard drives with error messages because he encountered some files it didn’t like. I removed tracker-extract or something to keep it from “working”.

@Sylvhem If I try to remove tracker-extract, it also removes gnome-core.

@paullammers Hmm… I don’t remember what I uninstalled exactly. Indeed it doesn’t seem to be tracker-extract.

@Sylvhem Perhaps you have masked the executables, which is the way most websites adviced me to "fix" the issue, which is ridiculous. Also you can use:
"sudo dpkg -P --force-depends package-name", but then your install is considered broken by the dependency checks.

And perhaps more importantly, it will also remove gnome when you don't want the tracker-miner or the totem player.

This is what happens when uninstalling tracker-extract, as you can see it will try to remove gnome-core.

I want gnome-core to be the core of what a Debian server with a graphical shell requires. Nothing more, nothing less. My question is, does Gnome insist on these additions, or does Debian make those up from thin air?

@paullammers @Sylvhem masking systemd units is the standard way to make sure a service is not started by any kind of activation (as opposed to disabling, which just makes sure it is not started automatically), so it’s not that ridiculous to propose as a fix. the binaries and libraries are still in place (I presume they are a mandatory dependency of gnome because it uses some stuff from some libraries), but systemd will refuse to start the corresponding user unit

what is more ridiculous is that gnome insist on activating the tracker service even when it is disabled


@paullammers Does gnome-core actually contain anything useful or is it just a metapackage? Removing nautilus sounds more of a problem.

@penguin42 the gnome package depends on gnome-core, which contains gdm3

@kristof That's what I mean, if you have to mask a service, because it refuses to listen to the disable command, that's egregious. And what is also ridiculous is that it has been so for years, regardless endless complaints and clearly suffering users, judging from the thousands of people reaching out for help about the issue over the years. In vain, because still it can not even be disabled and even today it choked up my system, hogging 100% cpu ad infinitum. It does not belong.


@kristof To be precise I had all of the indexing options from the Settings disabled, but I did start up rhythmbox, which I think may have triggered a playlist indexer, which then triggered tracker-miner and then crashed the process at 100% cpu. I have removed rhythmbox entirely, but I can't remove totem too, which I really want because it has its own indexer and I want to remove that too.


@paullammers i'll let this issue speak for itself instead of me trying to characterize it.

@ITwrx > There are no plans to support this and no use case has been provided.

Too bad, because the issue is genuine.

Also, if circular dependencies do exist, which seems to be their main argument, they indicate a design problem, not a 'support' problem.

A use case is easy too. A server that does not need bluetooth, tracking-miner and totem. It should be easy to remove those.

@ITwrx Oh and the rationale for this use case is that local attack surfaces matter.

@paullammers yeah, it's all pretty revealing, unfortunately.

@ITwrx What does it reveal to your observation? How did this happen to Gnome?

Automatically installed packages will be removed when the package that 'dragged' them in, gets removed.
By changing a package state from automatically to manually, you can change that.

I don't know if it's possible (IMO gnome is weird), but with aptitude you can request additional solutions. Also use '?' as answer as it gives tips to further target new solutions.

Or remove/purge it all and try this:
aptitude install gnome-core tracker-miner=

(= means in this case, don't install)

@FreePietje Thanks and hello. Had solved it with masking, but did not know the = notation.