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I would like to deploy my Ruby on Rails web application on a VPS, so my VPS would work as a web server.
My future hosting provider claims to offer OS templates from the official OpenVZ website.
Their documentation suggests to run the following command to make minimal the standard OpenVZ OS image:

DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt-get remove --purge -y -o Dpkg::Options::="--force-confdef" -o Dpkg::Options::="--force-confold" apache2 apache2-bin apache2-data apache2-doc apache2-mpm-prefork apache2-utils apt-utils bind9 bind9-host bind9utils binutils bsd-mailx bsdmainutils bzip2 ca-certificates console-common console-data console-setup cracklib-runtime cron db-util db5.3-util debconf-utils dialog expat fetchmail file finger fontconfig fontconfig-config fonts-dejavu fonts-dejavu-core fonts-dejavu-extra fonts-freefont-ttf ftp gettext groff-base info iputils-arping iputils-tracepath isc-dhcp-client isc-dhcp-common kbd keyboard-configuration ldap-utils less libapr1:amd64 libaprutil1:amd64 libaprutil1-dbd-sqlite3:amd64 libaprutil1-ldap:amd64 libapt-inst1.5:amd64 libavahi-client3:amd64 libavahi-common-data:amd64 libavahi-common3:amd64 libbind9-90 libbsd0:amd64 libcrack2:amd64 libcroco3:amd64 libcups2:amd64 libdns100 libfile-copy-recursive-perl libfontconfig1:amd64 libfreetype6:amd64 libgeoip1:amd64 libglib2.0-0:amd64 libgmp10:amd64 libgomp1:amd64 libgssglue1:amd64 libhdb9-heimdal:amd64 libisc95 libisccc90 libisccfg90 libkdc2-heimdal:amd64 libldb1:amd64 liblockfile-bin liblockfile1:amd64 libltdl7:amd64 liblwres90 libmagic1:amd64 libntdb1:amd64 libodbc1:amd64 libpaper1:amd64 libpcap0.8:amd64 libperl5.18 libpipeline1:amd64 libpopt0:amd64 libpython-stdlib:amd64 libsensors4:amd64 libsnmp-base libsnmp30:amd64 libtalloc2:amd64 libtdb1:amd64 libtevent0:amd64 libtirpc1:amd64 libunistring0:amd64 libwbclient0:amd64 libxml2:amd64 logrotate lynx lynx-cur m4 make man-db manpages memtester mlocate mtools ncurses-term odbcinst odbcinst1debian2:amd64 openssl openssl-blacklist postfix procmail psutils pwgen python python-crypto python-dnspython python-ldb python-minimal python-ntdb python-talloc python-tdb python2.7 python2.7-minimal rpcbind rsync sasl2-bin screen sharutils snmp ssl-cert sudo syslinux syslinux-common tcpdump tcsh tdb-tools telnet tofrodos traceroute ttf-dejavu ttf-dejavu-core ttf-dejavu-extra ttf-freefont unixodbc unzip update-inetd uuid-runtime whois wide-dhcpv6-client xinetd xkb-data; apt-get clean

As you can see, running this command as it is would also remove packages like sudo or cron and logrotate, that only an insane would remove. The above commands also include network tools like tcpdump, telnet, traceroute which are necessary for system administration.

Since I am myself inexperienced when it comes to system administration, I would appreciate if you could help me to understand which one of the above packages can be safely removed and which one is better instead to keep.

There seem to be some font packages, like fontconfig and related or ttf-freefont which seem to me unnecessary. Also I am sure I will not need apache2, because I will use the Puma web server, and I suppose I will not need postfix, fetchmail and procmail, since I intend to use sendmail and heirloom-mailx and do not want to receive emails. I do not need a DNS server, so I suppose I can remove bind, and I wonder if I will need a dhcp client.

There are however other packages I am unsure about, like libcrack2 or libmagic1 or again mtools for instance that I have no idea what they are useful for. It is for this kind of 'less-known' packages I would appreciate help and suggestions, since the documentation is scarse.

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In general openvz guests are designed to be as small and lightweight as possible. I highly suggest you use the of the official templates and follow the advice on the openvz site if you are new to openvz.

Most of those packages appear completely optional but some of the commands related to the kernel or networking may not be working in Ubuntu guests so thus the advice to remove.

Of course removing packages is completely optional but if you have a problem with your guest you will have to fall back to the advice you were given.

Last as a very general rule openvz is poorly supported by the Ubuntu developers they prefer LXC.

Every bug I have ever files on launchpad with openvz hosts and guests has been marked as either invalid or won't fix.

I advise you either use LXC or convert to from ubuntu to o e of the rpm hosts supported by openvz or debian. The debian kernels patched for openvz are more limited in number. I do not use Ubuntu openvz guests at all any longer, debian only. If you look on the community contributed guests I posted several openvz Ubuntu guests years ago, nothing recent.

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  • I think I will ask the openvz forum for an opinion. I just want to point out that I was not given advice to remove those packages, but according to the hosting provider removing those packages would make the installation minimal for those who need a minimal installation. – Asarluhi Oct 21 '17 at 18:59
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    Than they are optional if for some reason you want as few packages as possible. If they were not advised on the openvz wiki I would leave them installed, but certainly are optional keep or remove – Panther Oct 21 '17 at 19:22

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