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And I'd like to get this list directly and if possible from an external source (maybe repositories?).

Almost all one-liners I have found didn't work for me. So I hope there is an indicator somewhere that denotes packages as "preinstalled".

PS: I don't want to run a clean installation in a VM.

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Would you mind fetching the contents from a Live CD directly? –  Lekensteyn Jun 22 '11 at 17:45
    
I found the list mikewhatever posted on the CD too but, you know, I don't always have a CD ;) –  dAnjou Jun 22 '11 at 23:17
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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Every *buntu release has a .manifest or .list file that lists preinstalled packages. This file is located online.

For example:

Ubuntu 12.04.1 32bit ➜ http://releases.ubuntu.com/precise/ubuntu-12.04.1-desktop-i386.manifest

Ubuntu 11.04 32bit ➜ http://releases.ubuntu.com/natty/ubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.manifest

Ubuntu 11.04 64bit ➜ http://releases.ubuntu.com/natty/ubuntu-11.04-desktop-amd64.manifest

Kubuntu 11.04 32bit ➜ http://releases.ubuntu.com/kubuntu/11.04/kubuntu-11.04-desktop-i386.list

...and so on.

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Awesome, thanks! –  dAnjou Jun 22 '11 at 23:12
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I've compared the Kubuntu CD contents with a fresh installation inside VBox, and it seems that the contents match a Live CD, not an actual installation (e.g. the installer, ubiquity, is included in Mike's list) –  Lekensteyn Jun 23 '11 at 8:34
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That's probably true. The ubiquity, ntfsprogs and unused locales are removed at the end of the installation. –  mikewhatever Jun 26 '11 at 21:53
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