The original versions of common utilities like “cat”, “grep” and “ls” on
V6 Unix from 1976 could measure their disk and RAM usage in bytes in
just five figures. A few decades later, and the corresponding programs
on a modern Linux distro are orders of magnitude larger. Why?
Here is a detailed (and technical) analysis from the 2012 Linux.conf.au
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbv9L-WIu0s> which takes you step by
step through all the contributions to the difference. They isolated
most of these by modifying the code, selectively taking out features,
and building it in different ways.
Conclusion: you may call it “bloat”, but if you want a modern system,
it’s pretty much unavoidable.
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