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Having installed it (18.04), I then came across cloud-init and was initially quite confused. If I've understood correctly, its purpose is to provide instance initialisation/customisation for a system launched on a cloud platform. I'm not in this environment - I'm used to hard-wiring config changes and not have something mess with them. For me, cloud-init looks to be just an unnecessary layer of confusion.

So, have I understood what cloud-init does? Do I need it, and if not, can I get rid of it without breaking anything?

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Cloudinit is really for customization of images in the cloud. If for example you had a cluster of servers, networked together to create your own cloud server. You could use cloudinit to create a series of scripts to help you with creation of your servers, i.e. a script that customizes the name and dns for each server that's started. To add and remove dns entries as need be. This functionality is great if you have a lot of virtualized servers but not so much if all you have is one or two boxes with no intention of taking them into the cloud.

Documentation

  • So having established I don't need it, can I remove/disable it? Or, since I want a really simple server, would I be better off not using server edition at all but, say, using the desktop edition, removing the ubuntu-desktop metapackage and just adding what I need? – ceperman Jul 28 '18 at 6:11
  • It really depends on what you are using it for? VPN? Proxy server? Web dev? Server side programming? Generalized Linux learning? All can be done on the desktop version the only benefit of server is that it’s more lightweight and doesn’t have the same bloat as desktop. Personally I got server every time and use a base image. Cloudinit doesn’t use that much memory so I just leave it alone. But you can remove it if it’s getting in the way. – Mark D Jul 28 '18 at 6:23
  • I'm rebuilding a home file & media server so my requirements are simple (I put this in the original post but they were removed), hence the thought that even the server edition may be more than I need. However, following your comments I decided to stick with where I am and just remove cloudinit. Nothing broke. Thanks. – ceperman Jul 28 '18 at 14:14
  • Cool. Depending on your preferences you may want to look into the freenas project. An excellent file server. – Mark D Jul 28 '18 at 18:40

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