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Debian Now Defaults To Xfce Desktop (phoronix.com)
184 points by zeis 991 days ago | 117 comments



Since all desktop environments in Debian are maintained with equal commitments and you can install any of them easily, change of "default" desktop environment is a rather symbolic gesture.

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...

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One point would be that if you're setting up rackmount server hardware, it still tends to come with a CD drive rather than DVD. That's one of Debian's primary purposes nowadays, given that Ubuntu has eaten most of its desktop market-share away.

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From whom? Dell doesn't, to my knowledge, offer any CD drives. It's DVD or nothing; we usually choose the latter due to iDRAC's virtual CD/DVD capabilities anyway.

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The last few rack-mounted servers we bought came with DVD writers, which seemed a little redundant to me. In our case, we only ever use the DVD drive once, to install CentOS, and then it's closed up and never used again. I can't imagine any situation where you'd want to write a DVD using a server...

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I've talked to many an admin writing their backups to dvd. Not the way I'd do it, but..

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I haven't seen a rackmount server with a CD drive for many years.

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I'm glad XFCE is finally getting the attention it deserves. It is clean, simple, usable, and well-designed. Gnome 3, while arguably having better design, has awful usability.

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Call me paranoid, but I'm scared it's also getting the attention it probably shouldn't.

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6 years ago, you could simply install xfc4-panel - or any other XFCE package - individually without too much fanfare. It would happily install and run no matter what WM you were using. These days, trying to install xfce4-panel individually is impossible as it will force you to install an army of "additional" packages, some even originating from GNOME.

XFCE is not the same "lightweight" desktop environment it once was. That task is now handed over to LXDE.

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What exactly do you mean by "originating from GNOME"?

http://www.archlinux.org/packages/extra/i686/xfce4-panel/

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).

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In the meantime, GNOME and KDE have moved on to something else: shiny, full of animations, and resource-hungry. I think it's only natural that some other desktop environment has moved to fill the void where GNOME 2 and KDE 3 used to be. LXDE now fills the place where XFCE used to be. Sooner or later, something else will fill the space where LXDE used to be, etc, etc, and life goes on!

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I agree. I switched to Debian + XFCE a couple of years ago and really like the small incremental changes approach and focus on stability rather than 'Lets redefine the desktop' attitude taken by other desktop environments.

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).

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Don't forget easily customizable, xfce is really nice on the eyes after some slight modification.

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I just rediscovered XFCE myself after the brutal letdown that was KDE "plasma" 4.x.

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.

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Absolutely. I've been on Xubuntu (Ubuntu with XFCE) for several years, but I tried out stock Ubuntu on my netbook a few months ago — just to see the Unity desktop firsthand. This is a cheapo Dell netbook from 2009, 1024x600 resolution. Unity was so slow as to be completely unusable, and it took up precious screen real estate with a launcher bar I could not remove. It basically turned that netbook into a brick.

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.

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I run 12.04 on a similar netbook but I don't feel Unity particularly slow. Of course, the Atom processor in it isn't designed to be fast, but it's usable.

And the launcher can be turned off.

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You might have a different definition of "completely unusable" from mine, but have you ever compared XFCE and Unity on the same machine? I'm accustomed to a snappy DE. I don't expect to wait 30 seconds+ for the most basic desktop to show up on boot, and when I drag windows I expect them to move instantly with no visible lag. Unity didn't meet those expectations on my Mini 10v. XFCE does easily.

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Yes. I'm running xfce right now, but I really don't see much of a difference apart from the lack of glitz. Memory seems to be a little bit lower, but not that much.

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.

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Weird, I might have to try it again sometime. I definitely remember thinking Unity's performance was horrible, but some of that may be confirmation bias (I expected going in that XFCE would be lighter than other options). And I was unaware the launcher could be hidden.

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I'll second that. The first release with Unity (11.04?) was dradful. The second fixed some major issues, and now it's perfectly usable (unless you're particularly set in your ways). I run 12.04 on an older Eee, and it's not noticeably faster or slower than when I was running Xubuntu before.

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There was a bug in Unity that caused it to consume an inordinate amount of cpu resources. They squashed it a while back.

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You can also try LXDE/Lubuntu. It's a very nice and usable alternative to XFCE.

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I rediscovered it as well, after updating Ubuntu and trying out Unity and Gnome shell.

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.

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Protip: Alt + Middle-button drag anywhere on a window should allow you to resize from the nearest corner/side. On a similar note, Alt + Left-drag anywhere on a window will allow you to move it without having to click on the titlebar.

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I believe it's Alt + right button with XFCE/XFWM. Alt + middle button is GNOME (or Compiz, perhaps?).

Either way though, once you get hooked on moving/resizing windows this way it'll be hard to go back!

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Mix that with the highlight buffer and middle-click to paste, and I can't stand working on any desktop that doesn't support that kind of workflow...

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Granted I have a pretty high end developer laptop (i7 + 8gb ram + SSD), but ubuntu+gnome3 is very snappy and usable for me.

I basically just run chrome and emacs.

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For me it was Unity. XFCE is exactly what I wanted.

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I'm another netbook user on a slow connection, and I've never cared for GNOME (since Breezy Badger), for various reasons, so when I found out about Xfce I was quite pleased with it.

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?

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Call me old fashioned, but I would really like some "old new distro"

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

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Honestly, most of these are necessary evils these days. New sound cards are cheaper than old ones, and don't support software mixing. Hence Pulseaudio. (Not to mention things like Bluetooth headsets, which don't appear as ALSA devices and instead are natively supported by Pulseaudio.)

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.

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Hasn't software mixing been in ALSA for ages, with the dmix plugin? I don't think Pulseaudio is necessary for everything.

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.

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Pulseaudio can abstract over multiple devices, allowing you to mute individual applications, move streams between physical pieces of hardware, and so on. Audio mixing in kernel-space is brittle and the wrong place for the code anyway. Doing it in userspace is more secure, more flexible, and generally a good design.

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In theory, maybe. In practice, Pulseaudio is just horrible and gave me troubles I have never experienced with ALSA. I'm personally convinced it's one of the biggest mistakes made in the Linux world.

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!

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Not if you care about minimizing audio delay, which greatly matters in certain use cases.

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Nothing is more brittle than Pulseaudio in a modern linux distribution. Maybe the flash plugin, but still it uses less cpu than pulseaudio usually

Nowadays I only have to restart PA once a week. This is simply ridiculous.

ALSA software mixing never gave me a problem.

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Yes, wpa_supplicant is a nightmare, this is one thing FreeBSD got right

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

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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.

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cpu speed, disk space and things that break

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I much prefer Wicd to NetworkManager, though.

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Try Gentoo or Arch, you can build them whatever you like

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Arch has a very good user community. It's worth search the Arch forums even if you're not using Arch. They should be commended for their approach to clear documentation.

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.

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Or, y'know, any *nix. Just do a minimal/base install and build up from there.

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I think you (and me as well) want BSD. Now the problem with the popular BSDs is the package managers suck by comparison to most Linux distros.

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The problem for me isn't the package manager, ports is great in FreeBSD.

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.

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Well, I'm using a BSD system right now (that 'feline' one). Too bad it's got something messed up, hopefully it will get better with the latest version.

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I think you are implying that OSX is a BSD. Just because you have some BSD userland utilities doesn't make you a BSD. OSX has a totally different kernel than any BSD (mach).

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It is based on FreeBSD

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The Mach micro-kernel was originally a BSD kernel fork (iirc 4.2BSD, when dinosaurs roamed the earth). NeXT/Apple added various things like DriverKit and later IOKit to Mach. Apple also took the network stack from FreeBSD, which is traditionally rather modular (for high performance kernel code, anyway).

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.

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Here's your maintained KDE 3.5 fork: http://trinitydesktop.org/

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Are you a dev? Try awesome. Invest two hours of confusion and RTFM and you may never go back.

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Or DWM, or Xmonad, or i3, or Spectrwm, or StumpWM... You don't even need to be a dev, just want to learn!

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Find a comparison of all the tiling window managers here -- https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Comparison_of_Tiling_Wi...

The Arch community is great for support with these types of WMs.

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Heck, the Arch community is great with regards to getting software (including the latest branches) up and running on a machine. Definitely a helpful community with admirable goals.

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Second that. All tiling window mangers. Much more efficient.

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All tiling window mangers

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.

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Could you explain? From the screenshots I see, it doesn't seem that different from behavior enabled by wmii, xmonad, etc (even if the defaults vary).

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goomwwm is a mouse-centric stacking window manager. That means that new windows are opened above others, you can move them around and the focused window will stack above any windows it overlaps and you can resize them to arbitrary sizes, uses a alt-tab (mod-tab and mod-grave really) window switcher to toggle between open windows (tab between all windows, grave between windows of the current tag only) and lets you minimize windows - just like you'd expect from a traditional stacking window manager. You can move/resize with the mouse, but there are keyboard controls to move and resize windows. It is these keyboard controls that make it feel like a manual-tiling window manager because it is very easy to position windows in a tiled manner and there are some conrols that really help with this:

    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
By default, mod is mod4 (the windows key), but can be set to anything you like.

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

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I ran DWM for a while. It is solid and more stable than Awesome but does require more work to setup. I wish it had native system tray support. Patch conflicts are quite common.

I am back to Awesome which requires little to no modification.

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Depends on what you want to do. I had to modify some of awesome to get it to do what I wanted, and later found that it was way easier to just modify dwm to get what I wanted than to mess with awesome, because dwm is simpler.

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.

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or Notion!

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Direct non-phoronix link http://anonscm.debian.org/gitweb/?p=tasksel/tasksel.git;a=co...

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This is what I love about linux on the desktop, on one thread we've got serious complaints about usability, on another thread we're switching window managers because it won't fit on a CD.

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.

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Your point is understandable, but distribution restricted to the size of a CD is a major feature.

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.

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People like you and me will have no problem creating a custom install CD that defaults to XFCE to run on our really old hardware.

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.

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Valid point about the option of a slim xfce-based install being available.

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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Most of the Open Source/Free Software is far more concerned that new Linux releases can install with no problems in a used computer some low-income person volunteers to help rebuild someplace like Free Geek...

"The Adoption Program

Free Geek receives donated used computers from the public and Build volunteers refurbish them with care. These computers are then “adopted out” to volunteers in exchange for 24 hours of volunteerism to our Adoption volunteers.

Volunteers in the Adoption Program

    disassemble computers for recycling
    help receive computer equipment from donors
    test basic computer components
    help keep our facility clean
Volunteer tasks in the Adoption Program can accommodate a wide range of abilities — we’ll work with you to make sure you can spend the time necessary to earn your computer. No computer experience is required to participate in the program.

Adoption volunteers disassembling computers When you complete your 24 hours of volunteer service, you’ll sign up for a basic class on how to use your computer. At the conclusion of the class, you’ll take your new-to-you computer home. Adoption volunteers must take the class in order to receive tech support. You can learn more about What You Get with your adopted computer.

It the Adoption Program sounds perfect for you, here’s how you can Get Started.

Volunteers can receive one computer per year.

http://www.freegeek.org/volunteer/adoption-program/

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Linux is used a lot in countries where buying the last and greatest is not an option, nor is fast internet connection.

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Agreed with this. I do like being able to install without downloading more than 700MB in software. Saying download the DVD is very annoying, esp when you have a less than perfectly reliable internet connection.

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My understanding was that even in those cases, most people just pirate windows xp. I am not even close to a windows lover, but have you seen the system requirements for windows xp? http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314865

Basically a 233MGhz processor and 64mb of ram will get you a usable windows xp installation.

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So is that a reason not to try to compete?

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"usable"? No. Those specs are simply wrong.

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.

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Why should those computers[1] go to landfill when they're perfectly capable of doing whatever is needed by the owners? Especially if the "extra functionality" that needs all that power is, well, what?

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.

[1] and all the copper; lead; rare earth heavy metals; aluminum; plastics; gold; etc etc.

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> Normal people will download a debian CD and get XFCE and think that's linux on the desktop.

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.

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Exactly this. People that really care about optimizations aren't going to install the default Debian install anyways. They'd do a net install and build from there to get max performance for their old computers.

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.

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> People that really care about optimizations aren't going to install the default Debian install anyways. They'd do a net install and build from there to get max performance for their old computers.

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.

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Images with firmware included are available from http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unofficial/non-free/cd-inc...

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Thanks!

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Debian supports a huge number of architectures, not just the 386 that comes in most desktop computers. Not all modern computing devices have the power of Intel Core 2 processors.

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.

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No, normal people aren't even aware of the existence of Linux. That's primarily where GNOME (and Unity) have gone so badly wrong: optimizing for an audience that doesn't exist.

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Many people aren't, yet these days I'm regularly surprised by random folks (some bordering ludditeness) knowing about Linux's existence and role.

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IMO, it's because optimizing for the 300 MHz Celeron is a concrete technical objective. Optimizing for usability and design takes you right back into the subjective territory most of us are uncomfortable with. You've seen the fighting over Ubuntu's Unity. "Will this fit on a CD?" is a question that can be answered with facts.

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I doubt the Debian downloaders are the sort that will think that's Linux on the desktop. Debian is a great distro but their specific download target is, shall we say, somewhat more exclusive than others, such as Fedora or Ubuntu.

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"Normal people" don't use linux, so I don't buy your argument, sorry. I'd rather linux distributions stopped optimizing for idiots who can't tell what's going on without huge icons.

That said, I don't see how xfce is worse than gnome in its current state, so it's entirely win-win situation imho.

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A number of normal people I know use linux. The scenario is usually: 1) Computer "breaks", ie needs os reinstall 2) they don't have os media 3) I offer a choice of buying a full copy of Windows or trying linux for free. Some that choose linux find it isn't for them. Some stick with linux.

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Normal people will download a debian CD

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.

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"but distribution restricted to the size of a CD is a major feature"

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.

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The best experience for me is the other way around. Linux does 99 percent of everything I want and lives on the bare metal and if I need some random Windows app I just thaw out one of my VMs until I'm done with it then it goes back into the freezer.

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It's not given that xfce is necessarily a bad choice. That seems to have played into it, regarding to the comment.

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.

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I agree that xfce is a natural choice for Debian. I suppose that most computers have DVD players, but DVD discs are more expensive than CDs. Even if the difference is rather small it feels unnecessary to waste a DVD when I CD could do the trick. Especially since you only use the installation disc a few times. Having a physical disc has a advantage over USB drives namely that it can be used as a rescue disc later on. Data on a USB drive tends to be overwritten and you might not always have another computer available.

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Frankly they are likely resolving more usability complaints by switching to XFCE than they are generating.

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Fedora have a bunch of people giving out CDs throughout the developing world, and according to the discussions that flare up periodically on the Fedora devel list when this topic comes up, the CD size is useful for them. It's more to do with the time taken to download the CD when you have really poor network backwidth, rather than availability of CD/DVD drives. Which makes sense because Fedora almost certainly doesn't run on CD-only era PCs.

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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.

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.

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On the other hand, if you're NOT installing from a single CD (which, by your hypothesis, most people aren't), then it really makes no difference what's the default desktop on Debian. It's easy to install whatever you want.

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First world folks tend to forget there's an entire developing world out there, that is still going from 0 to 1 instead of 1 to 100.

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I imagine that "it won't fit on a CD" is an easier argument to win than "gnome has lost its way and is no longer suitable to be the default on a Debian system".

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I agree. Most users are not interested in understanding/testing the new UI concepts introduced in Gnome 3. It cannot be "the default wm" anymore. This is a very diplomatic way to say it.

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Usability and filesize aren't correlated. Perhaps with some attention from Debian Xfce can fix some of it's usability issues.

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What usability issues were introduced by using XFCE?

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yeah, warez still distributes zip volumes in floppy disk size.

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The information is incorrect according to Jeremy Bicha:

> 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.

https://plus.google.com/110356875332222535709/posts/46wiyitn...

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I was weary of xfce, it appeared to need a couple of gnome libs for some things, but man oh man, do i love it now. I have to have it everywhere.

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That's good. The new GNOME doesn't work very well with Xmonad anymore, so I switched to XFCE. How much code does one need to display a list of my windows at the top of the screen along with some tray applets anyway.

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How so? I'm running Xmonad with GNOME 3.4 right now.

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Sounds cool to me, since I have migrated to xfce as my DE of choice anyway...

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Is this even lighter than Cinnamon? I've been using Cinnamon with Mint 13 for weeks now and I love that OS. If it weren't for my Hitman games, I wouldn't even boot to Windows at all these days.

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Looking at tasksel’s changelog on a Sid installation, I see the last change was v3.12 from 21 July 2012 and I cannot find anything about changing the default desktop environment for the desktop task. So, maybe this change is not meant for the frozen Wheezy, whose taskel is already behind Sid’s (v3.11 compared to Sid’s v3.12).

Maybe someone familiar with Debian’s decision-making and development processes could enligthen us.

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Coupled with the eventual shift to Wayland, a default install of Debian should be a lot slimmer and internally less chaotic.

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There's a fork of Gnome 2 http://mate-desktop.org/ works very well.

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This makes sense to me, since >I< now default to XFce. (Been using XUbuntu as my Vbox image for awhile.)

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very nice i've been hoping for this for a long time ... and will be giving this consideration when my current crunchbang desktop needs a reinstall: http://figital.typepad.com/blog/2006/06/xubuntu_with_a_.html (hoping to see more javascript hooks now in the XFCE widgets)

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About time. Gnome has been suffering from 'feature' creep for years. As of late it has gone from merely unpleasant, to barely usable.

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Wouldn't the Wheezy feature freeze a few weeks back mean that this wouldn't apply in Stable until Debian Jesse, not Wheezy?

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This is because they could not fit Gnome on the disc. It was about 40 megs too big. I saw the memo the other day.

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I still use a self-customized BlackboxWM for my graphical mode needs. It's great on debian. =]

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It can still change before release.

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Good move, why not?

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.

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