Setting up a minimal apt-get environment

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http://unix.stackexchange.com – I would like to set up a minimal environment with apt-get then selectively install packages one at a time. My understanding is that this is basically what the Debian installer does. Is this understanding accurate? If so, is it possible to have the installer (or some other program the installer uses) install only the bare minimum necessary to run apt-get? If not, how difficult would it be to build such an environment? Some notes: Some software I presume I will end up installing include: a standard file system with commonly required directories (e.g. /dev, /bin etc.) a boot-loader (e.g. Gru (HowTos)