Ubuntu without pre-installed software?

Avi Greenbury lists at avi.co
Mon Sep 17 21:34:37 UTC 2012

Johnny Rosenberg wrote:
> I've always wondered why there are a lot of things pre-installed in
> Ubuntu and most other GNU/Linux-distributions.

The clue is in the name - it's a software distribution, a collection
of software. Most distros aim to provide a whole operating system
complete with all the things you're likely to want to use on it (like
an office suite and a web browser).

Even just doing that isn't obvious - how much of the system is needed
for it to count as a full OS? DSL doesn't ship a Javascript-capable
web-browser by default, but it does ship an implementation of the tile
game Taipei.

> Maybe I'm not like the rest of humanity, but I always end up
> uninstalling everything, replacing it with the stuff I prefer
> anyway. It would be easier to fit Ubuntu on a CD too, faster to burn
> it or create the USB stick.

You fit into a large minority, I'd suggest. There's plenty of
minimalist distros, but as reliable high-speed internet connections
become ever more prevalent it's becoming easier and easier to just
remove things from 'complete' ones.

> For example: LibreOffice. Why? Yes, why? If I want it, I'll install it
> with the debs from http://www.libreoffice.org/ (and I usually do,
> since I find it a lot better than the Ubuntu repository one).

Everything that comes with the distro gets updated by it - if you
install a minimal distro and then a load of software from an
assortment of other sources, you'll need to update each of them
individually (or not run updated versions). Many people prefer the
situation where everything is updated by one tool 

> I wish there was an alternate Ubuntu CD for a minimal install. Just
> the necessary stuff for getting started: A web browser, Firefox is
> good enough, the software centre, all those command line tools, of
> course, Gnome, Unity, Compiz but pretty much not much more than that.

You can use the server CD to install almost-nothing and then apt-get
your favourite DE and whatever software you like.

> Or a CD that does a minimal install of Ubuntu, then opens a somewhat
> modified software centre. There could be something like a guide
> letting you know that you need, for example, a media player, then it
> displays maybe the top ten rated ones, letting you choose one or more
> of them for install, then tells you that you might need some office
> stuff, a firewall, web browser and all that, and you can always select
> nothing if you like.

This sounds like a lot more hassle than booting into a 'normal'
install and just deleting everything not wanted. Maybe that one's just
me :)

> Well, that was just some thoughts.

This is a technical support list so, much as these sorts of things are
welcome as part of your search for a solution to the problem, this
isn't a way of getting ideas up to Canonical. There's dedicated
developer lists (and discussions at UDS) that're more for this sort of
thing. That said, it's not something that appears to lie particularly
well with the ideas behind Ubuntu.


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