During the installation of a RHEL/CentOS 5.x server, you have the choice of installing the "Base" group of packages. This group is described as including "a minimal set of packages. Useful for creating small router/firewall boxes, for example" and contains a number of packages that you would absolutely expect to find on a system that will ever have a human using its shell.

Unfortunately, this isn't all that the Base group includes. It actually pulls in a fair few packages that don't have any place here (e.g. conman, ccid), some that are actively server-hostile (e.g. bluez-utils) and some that - amazingly - default to starting a daemon at boot (e.g. gpm).

Here is a list of packages included in Base which, IMHO, can be safely installed after a minimal kickstart or manual installation (i.e. not including Base) and whose presence will not surprise anyone using the machine. This list was generated from the definition of Base in CentOS 5.4.

acl at bc bind-utils bzip2 crontabs irqbalance logrotate lsof man man-pages mlocate psacct rsync sudo telnet traceroute unzip vixie-cron which words zip

I've left the following two packages out of that list as – regardless of how useful they may appear – they're Redhat-specific, and the first of them pulls in dependencies such as CUPS. Is that really mandated by the LSB?

redhat-lsb sos