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Create a Slimmed Down Version of the Image

sakaki edited this page Apr 23, 2018 · 1 revision

Easily create a slimmed-down variant of the image, with or without a desktop GUI.


The gentoo-on-rpi3-64bit image ships with a full Xfce4 desktop system, and a relatively comprehensive set of applications (e.g. LibreOffice, Firefox etc.), pre-installed.

While this is convenient for new users, you may wish to create a "slimmed-down" system, so that e.g. genup runs are faster, and the image size overall is reduced.

Accordingly, in this tutorial I will cover two scenarios:

  1. removing some, or all, of the supplied graphical apps, but leaving the desktop intact; and
  2. removing the desktop too, resulting in a textual-console system (suitable for e.g. deploying a headless server).

Decide which route suits you better, and then follow the corresponding text below (option 1, or option 2).

Option 1: Retain Xfce4, But Remove Unwanted Apps

Removing some of the heavyweight, pre-installed applications that you don't need (or use) is straightforward. The file /var/lib/portage/world contains a list of all 'top-level' packages installed on your system (such as app-office/libreoffice, www-client/firefox etc.). Simply open it, and delete any packages you don't want. Issue:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ sudo mousepad /var/lib/portage/world &>/dev/null&

(this will open the file for editing)

Caution: do not delete the dev-embedded/rpi3-64bit-meta line as this is necessary to keep e.g. the Xfce4 desktop, and other support services and applications, installed.

Once the file only contains packages you want to keep, save it, and close mousepad.

The unwanted packages will now have a 'reference count' of zero, but are not actually removed from your system yet. To do that, issue:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ sudo emerge --ask --depclean

Review the list of presented uninstallation targets (which will (transitively) include any support packages that, in light of the top-level removals, are also no longer necessary) and, if happy, confirm.

Note that this operation is 'dependency safe', in that if a package you removed from /var/lib/portage/world happens also to be a (direct or transitive) dependency of another installed package that you have not asked to be removed, then that package (which will have a non-zero reference count) will be retained.

Allow the process to run to completion. Depending on how many top-level packages you deleted from /var/lib/portage/world, this may take up to 15 minutes or so.

Once the emerge --depclean completes, fix any broken shared library dependencies; issue:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ sudo revdep-rebuild

This will normally end up being a no-op, but it is always safest to check.

When that finishes, reboot to double-check all is well and that the GUI still comes up automatically. If so, congratulations, you now have a slimmed down desktop!

Option 2: Remove Xfce4 and Migrate to a Textual Console System

To purge the GUI desktop (and apps) from your system completely, useful if e.g., you want to maintain a headless server, is also straighforward.

Begin by following the steps in option 1, above, but remove all lines in /var/lib/portage/world, except for dev-embedded/rpi3-64bit-meta (which must be retained).

If you have installed any non-graphical packages directly yourself (via emerge), their stanzas may also be kept, at your option.

With that done, open a terminal at the (slimmed down!) desktop, and issue:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ sudo mousepad /etc/portage/package.use/rpi3-64bit-meta &>/dev/null&

And edit that file, so that at the bottom you have as the only uncommented line (all lines starting with # in this file are comments, and may safely be retained):

dev-embedded/rpi3-64bit-meta -xfce

Save, and exit mousepad. Next, re-emerge the meta-package. This will 'untether' Xfce4 and all its (non-core) dependencies (but they will still be installed, for the moment - it's just that their reference count will now be zero):

demouser@pi64 ~ $ sudo emerge -v rpi3-64bit-meta

Let this run to completion, it won't take long.

With that done, using the by-now-familiar rubric, purge the 'dereferenced' packages:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ sudo emerge --ask --depclean

Review the (long) list and, if happy, confirm. The packages will start uninstalling. The full process will take maybe an hour or so, depending on the speed of your micro SD card. You can leave this running on the graphical desktop, but don't try doing anything else on the system, as everything you see around you is in the process of being uninstalled ^-^

Once that completes, immediately fix any broken shared library dependencies; issue:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ sudo revdep-rebuild

As before, this will most-likely end up being a no-op, but it is always safest to check.

Once the revdep-rebuild has completed, reboot immediately; issue:

demouser@pi64 ~ $ sudo reboot

The system should restart to a textual login. Log in as root (default password raspberrypi64), and perform the final clean-up actions (viz.: removing any downloaded, cached source and binary packages that are no longer required):

pi64 ~ # eclean-dist --deep && eclean-pkg --deep

Once that completes, congratulations! You now have a lightweight baseline system!

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