A CD? In 2012? Windows and OS X haven't fit on a CD in almost 10 years and you can barely find a copy of OS X on DVD. Yet the primary concern on linux is not usability but whether it fits on an install CD.
I think there might be higher priority concerns than whether a user is able to install a modern operating system on the Pentium MMX & 8X CD drive they found in the dumpster.
It fits right in with the linux way of supporting really old hardware. It's not about the newest and shiniest hardware. Debian is known to be a slow moving but very stable distribution. Support for older hardware (without DVD Reader/Writers) might have been a big point of consideration.
Normal people will download a debian CD and get XFCE and think that's linux on the desktop.
What I don't understand is why linux always optimizes for the corner case of a couple ultra cheap geeks who can't stand the idea of upgrading their 300 mhz celeron.
I disagree about the 'normal people' point. 'Normal people' are less likely to download Debian as opposed to Mint or Ubuntu. If they venture into Debian territory, they're looking for something more and know what they're doing.
Which leads me to your third point, that is, I would venture a guess that the number of people who would care about this might not be in the minority after all.
(Disclaimer: I have made assumptions about the numbers, if someone has nice numbers to refute/support this argument, please do the honors.)
Also, 'ultra cheap geeks' are usually puppets controlled by the management.
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Basically a 233MGhz processor and 64mb of ram will get you a usable windows xp installation.
But even then, you're showing incredible hubris by saying "screw those guys, let them pirate XP". Debian's strength is that it tries to be universal - platforms and languages.
There are continents where Internet speeds are not great (or are expensive) - some of those are first world countries too. (EG Australia).
Many people don't care if they can bash the arrow keys on a Google Doodle. They just want to send a bit of email and do a bit of gentle web browsing; maybe a bit of light office work and some pdf reading.
WordStar and WordPerfect sold a gajillion copies and are fondly remembered by many. Abiword would cover the needs for 90% of its users.
 and all the copper; lead; rare earth heavy metals; aluminum; plastics; gold; etc etc.
Would "normal" people download Debian CDs though? I wonder if this change will pass unnoticed precisely because it is only people like "you and me" that will be interested in Debian.
And I love that about Linux. I absolutely love how minimal you can get it (CrunchBang for me is the right mix). But it's time to focus on user experience if we ever want Linux adoption to spread. And that means we have to stop optimizing for computers that came out 10 years ago.
The other thing is, if people want a sweet enduser experience, they're not going to install the default Debian install anyways. They'll use an enduser-focused distro like Ubuntu.
I recently installed Debian on a Dell server with Broadcom network adapters. Couldn't use the netinstall image because by default Debian doesn't include non-free firmware. It was nice to be able to use CD1 to get a fully functional headless Debian system, to then install the non-free firmware package from a USB flash drive to get network connectivity.
That said, I don't see how xfce is worse than gnome in its current state, so it's entirely win-win situation imho.
No, they won't. Most normal people are not even capable of burning an ISO, let alone selecting ("so, do I use i386 or MIPS?") and downloading Debian.
For me a major feature would be VirtualBox images ready to go. I haven't installed a Linux distro in years, and I would much rather let Windows/OSX act as the HAL so I just just focus on what I want to use Linux for.
Personally, I would say it is the most natural choice for Debian. Also, staying away from DEs regarded as developer-unfriendly like gnome3 or unity fits (remember the eclipse-bug?).
Furthermore, developers I know seem to not like medias like dvds, switching instead to the internet where possible, so they are quiet likely not to buy something fancy like a dvd-burner. Or maybe that's just me.
Most (legal) Windows and OS X users aren't downloading and installing the OS from cd/usb/dvd. Most Debian users are. Restricting size decreases download time and decreases the difficulty of finding installation medium with sufficient space.
Also, since it's more work to install additional packages on non-apt-based OSes the benefit to installing initially is greater.
Technically, the reason for the change is that GNOME won't fit in a CD without a diet and Xfce will. I am not sure how many people install Debian with CD (not DVD, not USB, not network install, etc.) though...
XFCE is not the same "lightweight" desktop environment it once was. That task is now handed over to LXDE.
I can't find anything GNOME-related here, unless you are talking about GTK (which you probably would already have on your system if you want the xfce-panel).
It works for me. I have "mastered" the windows concept and now I just want to use my computer to get stuff done, not learn a new UI concept every other day (unless it involves substantial improvements to my experience).
I still load on the full KDE groupinstall so I can run KDE apps, but I use XFCE as the desktop. I had fogotten just how "snappy" a desktop could be.
Now that I'm back to XFCE, with the panel set to auto-hide, I can hack with that laptop again, no problem.
I don't think you ought to need the latest and greatest machine just to run a responsive OS. XFCE is simple, fast, and gives you what you need with no unwelcome surprises.
And the launcher can be turned off.
Another option for the memory constrained is Unity2D (and hiding the launcher for the pixel-constrained). It uses screen real estate a little bit more efficiently than xfce and looks nicer.
Xfce does exactly (IMO) what a desktop should do: make me forget what desktop I'm using. It's got all the standard features I expect, and works how I'd expect a desktop to work. Very happy with Xubuntu right now.
Edit: One minor complaint: the default Xubuntu install left me with window borders that were too small to grab onto (for resizing). Had to change some theme or other.
Either way though, once you get hooked on moving/resizing windows this way it'll be hard to go back!
I basically just run chrome and emacs.
I like that some distros provide different "spins" as Fedora does, although switching DE is a simple task, why download stuff you don't want?
Put modern packages, but not "new" packages
. No pulseaudio, packagekit, networkmanager. You don't need to worry about automounting usb for example
Get me the latest version of KDE 3
That would be very fast in any modern machine
NetworkManager is similar -- editing wpa_supplicant configurations is a nightmare. It works from the command-line now, so it's not like it's imposing anything on you anymore.
I do see the Networkmanager is a necessary evil, but why does it have to be so awful? It's great if it works, but if it doesn't then solving the problem is extremely hard because of the bloated, uncommunicative nature of the program.
However, if we're going to put the sound server in userspace, which isn't a bad idea, the kernel side should be broken down. This would be an excellent time to deprecate ALSA!
Nowadays I only have to restart PA once a week. This is simply ridiculous.
ALSA software mixing never gave me a problem.
I didn't need PA with any of the new sound cards, and the BT dongles don't "support" PA (some are certainly ALSA, but others may "get in" in another way), but what happens is that it makes it easier to use it with it
That being said, I don't care to use new hardware, unless it's something essencial like a video card, chipsets, etc
Why upgrade your computer then? You don't need the newest version of an OS if you don't want to do anything that the old version didn't do.
Some other minimal distributions include:
Linux From Scratch:
TinyCore: Took over where DSL left off, with better philosophy.
Slitaz: good internationalisation, runs entirely from ram.
TomsRtBt: the most Linux on a single floppy
Puppy: Weird and non standard but oddly popular
DSL: Also very popular among a certain group, was dead for years but is just recently getting a new release
Obviously some of these are scarily odd: single user, everyone has root, etc etc.
The problem is FreeBSD doesn't keep up with modern hardware and you have to work very hard to get a laptop that works specifically with it.
Together they make up the current XNU hybrid kernel. You can look at most of the sources at opensource.apple.com
There's certainly lots of FreeBSD in OSX, but it's not like OSX is just FreeBSD with a sugar coated Apple UI.
The Arch community is great for support with these types of WMs.
I used to think that until I started using goomwwm, which, while looking and feeling like a tiling window manager, is technically a stacking window manager.
mod-d will resize the focused window to be the exact same size as the window directly below it
mod-f makes a window fullscreen
mod-v resizes all windows stacked underneath the focused window so that they are tiled vertically (occupying the same space as they did before)
mod-h is the same for horizontal tiling
movement is aligned to a 3x3 grid
the grow and shrink resize the window by an amount that makes tiling on the grid easier (there is also a more fine-grained grow/shrink that doesn't align to the grid)
mod-shift-movement will swap the focused window and the closest window in the direction of movement - this swaps both windows sizes and their positions
mod-home sets the window height to the height of the screen
mod-end sets the window width to the width of the screen
mod-shift-movement2 "snaps" the focused window to the edge of the closest window in the direction of movement2
mod-return will grow the window to fill all available space without overlapping other windows
mod-backspace will shrink a window to fill all available space without overlappinp other windows
movement being the keys to move windows, by defualt the cursor keys.
movement2 being the keys to select/focus windows, by defualt i, j, k and l.
On top of this, you can set rules which basically allow you to run certain commands on specified windows/applications automaticlaly and rulesets which are sets of rules which you can trigger through a keyboard command. A ruleset you can find on the goomwwm website is to automatically tile windows like you would in a dynamic tiling window manager like awesomewm (eg a main area and a side area), you can then use the "swap" commands to swap the windows in the main area with the other windows as needed.
This makes goomwwm feel very much like a manual tiling window manager, yet it still has solid support for stacking and, in fact, always stacks windows by defualt. This makes it more flexible than it would otherwise be without giving up any tiling or keyboard-centric goodness.
Of course, being a border-less, title-bar-less super minimal window manager makes it also look like a tiling window manager, which are traditionally just as minimal.
I'm sure I didn't explain that very well, so I'd suggest giving it a try in Xephyr or Xnest or something. Its easy to get running (git clone ...; make; ./goomwwm -- takes about 2 seconds to compile on my laptop) and only depends on the usual xlib related libs and dmenu. Or, if you don't feel like trying it out, you should at least glance at the tutorial: http://aerosuidae.net/goomwwm/tutorial
I am back to Awesome which requires little to no modification.
I do really hate not having a system tray in dwm, though. The patch they have on their site did not work well for me.
> Yet another poorly researched news item from Phoronix. Debian hasn't actually switched the Wheezy default desktop to XFCE. GNOME is the default today and could still be the default for release.
> It was changed in the git but it wasn't actually released yet. Several GNOME packages have already been rebuilt with xz compression to make the binaries small enough to fit on the CD.
> Switching the default desktop would be controversial and there's a lot of inertia behind GNOME.
Maybe someone familiar with Debian’s decision-making and development processes could enligthen us.
If I recall correctly, Debian is all about keeping things fast, stable and usually chosen as a good fit for a server.
In any case, most users that expect a "fully blown with bells and whistles" WM would use Ubuntu.
I'm still loving using fluxbox in my old laptop.