As I spoke with John (The Black Pig) before, he asked about as small as possible iso image.
After a hard drive installation, you can install all the software you like and set the system yourself, without uninstalling applications which are already pre-installed on the standard iso images.
I'd like to join the disscussion and add my point of view.
As many people as many options. it could be difficult to find a compromise, specially with the default mini iso desktop.
My suggestion is:
1. No desktop, no graphical server, it could be based on cli edition.
2. Adding additional scripts so the cli installer will be able to install a specific, your favorite desktop (a window manager or a desktop environment) with very basic applications.
It can be done via meta-packages, such as: sparky-jwm-desktop which will install (for example, as you suggest):
- graphical server
- window manager (or desktop environment in as small settings as possible)
- terminal emulator
- web browser
- login manager (lightdm as default , sddm for plasma)
- a few tools for desktop configuration
- network-manager (-gnome for all desktops/ -kde for plasma)
- a text editor
To help managing network connection in the cli edition, I can enclose ceni, the nurses based cli network manager.
The core system will be installed from the iso (offline) as it's managing now.
The additional desktop will be installed from sparky and debian server (online installation) if the internet connection will be made before starting the installation process.
If you will not install any desktop, you can do it after the system reboot from the hard drive and connectiong to the network, just installing a sparky meta package.
The package lists you propose could be used to create separate meta packages so will automate installation of any desktop (with basic settings only).
I spent the last two days improving the old installer, so it supports efi machines too (not in repos yet) so can be used on bios and efi machines now.