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I looked all over the internet and couldn't find the answer to my question. If you use a source based distro, does that lower download sizes, compared to binary? If so, how significant is it? (Provide an example if you could).

I have slow internet and I would like to cut downloading time and rather use that time to compile.


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Binary packages are smaller than source packages, everyone knows that. – Ярослав Рахматуллин Oct 29 '12 at 7:38
@ЯрославРахматуллин everyone must learn it once to then know it – Enigma Nov 6 '13 at 17:03
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The answer you ask has a catch you seem to ignore: You can not boot a source file.

The core (installer, kernel, C compiler, other essential programs) will need to be downloaded as binaries. Additional package can be either pre-compiled or as source.

The best goal to minimize downloading would be to only download what you need. Start with a minimal installation set. Then decide which programs you want to add and how you want to manage them. Either via download as source (e.g. via a BSD ports tree or via Gentoo portage) or a pre-compiled binary. The last preferably in a package format such as rpm so you can not just install your system, but also keep it up to date without significant overhead.

As for an example: Those depend a lot on which examples you choose. The only fair comparison would be from a full system install (with average used programs) and to compare those. And then we need to start a discussion (with no clear answers) on what average installed programs are.

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