how-to wanted: Remove programs without breaking ubuntu-desktop metapackage?
So while waiting for my main machine (a windows box, in transit) to arrive, I dug out an old box and slapped Ubuntu on it so I wouldn't have to share a family machine all the time. (The box is actualy a server tower a neighbor picked up from a KMart that was closing; an IBM Netfinity 3000 with 128MB of RAM and a Pentium II something-or-other. But that's just hardware geekery, specs aren't too important right now.)
I don't have any inherent dislike of any of the preinstalled packages but there's a lot of them I don't want (OpenOffice; don't need a suite and the lightweight AbiWord is probably better) or need (Bluetooth libs, DVD players, burning software) and I've currently only got 4GB of disk on top of that.
So I'd like to uninstall them (yay, apt-get!) but they all have dependencies with the ubuntu-desktop metapackage. This has me worried that uninstalling one (and by requirement, the metapackage) will break my system somehow or uninstall other things I want to keep, although I understand that's unlikely. From the bits I read after Googling, I get the impression that the metapackage is there to help handle upgrades and such. Is there a way to keep the metapackage (even edit it so it's not dependant on the programs I want to remove)? Or do I have to remove it and what will happen when I do?
On a tangential note, when I get my main machine back, I want to turn this box into a server machine to play with. But I don't want to use the prebuilt Ubuntu server distro because I want to keep a GUI frontend for reading docs and such (and remember the horror that was me trying to manualy configure X when I tried Gentoo way back when). Are there any good guides out there for this sort of thing? I don't have a specific use in mind at this point but I definatly want to at least do a webserver/fileserver with SSH for access and from there, other things that suit my fancy. There's a edubuntu-server package, don't know if that's what I want to use.