The root filesystem is a basic set of packages needed to provide a usable login environment around a kernel and kernel modules. The rootfs must be extensible to a full system so normal packaging tools need to be supported.
The main Debian root filesystem is based on 'Essential' - a collection of packages that contain: Essential: yes in debian/control and although small in Debian terms, it is still much too large for Emdebian.
multiple repository bootstrap based on apt
A debootstrap replacement with multiple repository support, using apt to handle all dependency issues and conflicts.
Multistrap includes support for foreign architecture multistraps that need only minimal configuration on the final device. Also supports cleaning up the generated bootstrap filesystem to remove downloaded packages and hooks to modify the files in the bootstrap filesystem after the packages have been unpacked but before being configured.
Unlike debootstrap, multistrap relies on working versions of dpkg and apt outside the final filesystem.