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Customising Debian install

Whats the best way to go about making a custom installation of Debian which I can then install onto multiple machines without having to go through and manually add extra packages and remove certain default packges from each machine?

For certain things like removing OpenOffice and replacing it with LibreOffice this approach works but is time consuming. For other packages it just results in disaster, for example Ive tried removing the empathy package and have inadvertently removed the entire OS.

How come the packages have dependencies like this, surely removing an IM client shouldnt also trigger removal of everything else.

As an example, Id like to remove things like Iceweasal and Epiphany so that theyre not installed by default but include our own custom Firefox .deb

Likewise Id like to do away with Empathy and Tomboy.

Surely theres a way to automate this and then build my own iso images so i dont have to customise each PC after installation?


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