Install a minimal ubuntu system with the mini.iso.
You can get the image from https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/MinimalCD.
Choose the release you want and the architecture appropriate for your machine.
If in doubt, get the 8.04 hardy for i386 (this is the LTS release for standard x86 machines).
At the boot prompt, type cli and hit enter.
This will install a minimal, command line only system.
No graphical packages will be installed and we avoid the gnome dependencies.
One caveat I encountered is that the installer succeeded in autoconfiguring my Intel Pro Wireless card,
but only offered WEP encryption support. Since my router is WPA encrypted, I had to temporarily disable wireless security (or use WEP).
(Once the system is installed and wpa_supplicant added, I reactivated WPA encryption.)
When the system install is completed and the initial boot is done you should be presented with a login in the terminal.
Login with your username and password, update apt repositories and upgrade packages with:
$ sudo aptitude update
$ sudo aptitude safe-upgrade
$ sudo aptitude full-upgrade
then install a minimal graphical environment with:
$ sudo aptitude install xorg slim synaptic medit dillo fluxbox xfce4-terminal xinit menu menu-xdg alsa-utils gdebi-core logrotate localepurge
Note: you can use any terminal emulator you want, I happen to like xfce4-terminal. :)
logrotate will overwrite old log files with new ones and save disk space.
localepurge removes all of the support and files for languages you DO NOT select. You will be prompted with instructions. Read and follow them. I selected the three that begin with en_US and chose to remove everything else.
Dillo is a light-weight web browser without all of the firefox dependencies.
Medit is an Awesome text editor which I enjoy. Xedit will be installed too.
After this, setup will continue and you will soon be presented another graphical prompt regarding uswap and swap space.
Select No (do not continue without swap = let uswap find a swap partition...if you have set one up.)
Once you get back to the terminal prompt, type
to start the graphical interface and window manager, Fluxbox.
You should see a blank background and a small taskbar at the bottom of the screen.
Welcome to fluxbox!
Where's the "Start" button?
or just a menu?
Right-click the desktop. Voila!