Just installed a couple of CentOS 7 virtual machines for testing. Used the Minimal install image, and probably saved myself lots of aggravation in the process.
Minimal installs have always had lots of fans, especially among server admins. The standard Desktop Live DVD that ships for Fedora provides a good way to check out that distribution, but it also includes lots of stuff that, frankly, can get in the way when you’re just trying to build something like a web server. That was one of the things I always liked about the approach of the FreeBSD project, although making the jump from server to desktop on a FreeBSD machine was always a chore.
The Fedora Next initiative is meant to fix that problem, and promises to come up with separate basic images for workstations and servers (as well as cloud machines). The CentOS developers have said they’re going to work along the same lines, with their new Special Interest Groups (SIGs) each cutting images to address various communities like server admins and developers.
In the meantime, I’m finding that the latest Minimal image for CentOS 7 gives me everything I need to start. Because it doesn’t include the Gnome Shell, the install defaults to using the “legacy” networking service and scripts (by default eth0 is configured for DHCP and does not start on boot, so you’ll need to start it manually the first time and edit the file to change its configuration — this old article by Kasia Gogolek on Dzone should get you started). That’s a welcome feature, and saves me from having to struggle with the latest eccentricities of NetworkManager.