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The goal: bypassing the Great Firewall of China while I am there on a contract.

The concept: a micro-minimal install of Ubuntu on a headless machine left behind in the States which boots and runs from a CD or DVD with only three tasks: login, run inadyn to update the external DNS via DynDNS and launch OpenVPN as a server.

Ubuntu, iandyn and OpenDNS because I am familiar with them, I have this working with a full install. I'm open to other options. I want a CD/DVD to minimize maintenance in the case of hardware failure -- my "hosts" for this box are capable of plugging in a new drive -- but restoring a disk image, not so much.

So, the question is what / how can I best uninstall everything else but the core and these two tasks? I'm trial-and-erroring it, but perhaps (almost certainly) someone has more experience than I in minimizing disk space while still having a functional enough OS?

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Sounds like you want to start with the Ubuntu Minimal CD. See https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/MinimalCD . Download and install then apt-get the packages you need.

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