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Add LAMP to a minimal Ubuntu install

Posted by on November 21, 2008

Minimal Ubuntu Installs:
My preferred installation these days is absolute minimal. Basically it involves booting from CD, hit F4 right after the language prompt and then choose the minimum install option. There are a few main reasons for this:

1. Quicker Install

The installation is quicker which for me means less time in the fridge (server room).

2. Smaller/Quicker Post-install Updates

Installation CD’s are generally out of date the moment you burn them. Installing a full install from a CD will then mean updating most of the packages that shipped on the CD right from the get go. This is undesirable due to both the volume of updates required and the time it takes to update.

3. Smaller drive foot print

Installing just the base packages keeps the foot print (disk usage) down to about 600Mb. When working with older machines or virtual machines this is very useful.

4. Security

The easiest way to secure a machine is not to spend days on firewall and policy management, but simply to not have things you don’t need installed.

I’ve been playing with VMWare alot recently and I find having a few minimal install machines lying around as templates is very useful. Copy the files, boot the copy, change its name and IP and you are good to go with a new machine.

So what happens then, if you have one of these minimal installs and you want to re-purpose the machine for something else (like an apache, mysql and php webserver for example).  Previously I would curse profusely and start apt-get install’ing all the packages one by one until the machine was where I needed it.

tasksel:
tasksel is a life saver. After the minimal install is done, dusted and updated. And having set the apt sources.list to your local mirror, you can simply ask tasksel to add all the extras you need to convert your minimal install to a fully operational LAMP (or other) box.

To see what options are available to you:

sudo apt-get update
tasksel –list-tasks

And then to commit the your choice:

sudo tasksel install lamp-server

tasksel will then spawn its blue screen of ugliness and install everything needed and ask for things like mysql root passwords (as needed).

Since this is all done via apt (which you should be keeping updated anyway) you will have the latest ubuntu version and ready to deploy.

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