Will Upcoming Debian 8 Release Default To XFCE For The CD Media?


Subject says it all.

I ask because I’ve read this from two different sources¹ now (the other magazine is written in Spanish), so is this true?

I could only find this mailing list thread² as the official reference but from the comments on there it does not look like a final decision has been taken yet on the proposed change and this is a rather big diversion from the usual default to be passed so inadvertently to the users (yes, plain users do not read “debian-devel” ;-P).



  1. #1 by Brian on August 8th, 2012 - 1:22 pm

    Be frightened; very frightened!

    The tasksel maintainer has made it so.

    The Debian GNOME team (or one or two of them) may not be over the moon but none of them maintain tasksel. Upstream doesn’t count.

  2. #2 by Camaleón on August 8th, 2012 - 12:46 pm

    I tagged as OT because the scope (chit-chat) is out of the technical issues expected here. And it concerns Jessie, not Wheezy (please, don’t scare me! ;-) )

    So you think is it a firm decision? :-?

    I wonder what the other linux distributions are doing in this regard, what the GNOME teams (Debian and upstream) think about it and what other desktop environments can be also considered as good options to be used for the default.

    I’m afraid there are many questions over the table.


  3. #3 by Brian on August 8th, 2012 - 12:36 pm

    How can this be [OT]? It’s about Debian. It concerns Wheezy. And the installer is involved, too.

    The decision could possibly be reversed if someone could find and implement a way of getting the GNOME task on CD-1.

  4. #4 by Laurence Hurst on August 9th, 2012 - 10:59 am

    You seem to be suggesting that xfce4-session and gnome-session are the only desktop environments – I, for example, use pekwm at the moment (and openbox before that) so will not be in either that 20% (assuming no overlap, which is probably wrong).

    Looking at xserver-xorg[0], the most popular X server at the moment, it is installed on 52% of systems partaking in the popularity contest. I
    suspect this is a reasonable reflection on the number of graphical installs in popcon as a lot of production headless servers will probably not be reporting stats (whereas my headless boxes at home, which do not have an X server installed, do). Because of this I expect the real number of graphical desktop (compared to non-desktop installs) is less than 52%.

    [0] http://qa.debian.org/popcon.php?package=xorg

    Just my .2


  5. #5 by Brian on August 9th, 2012 - 10:44 am

    You’ve already provided a major reference for the discussion which has taken place on debian-devel. It included controversy (altering the status quo always does) but it really does come down to size. The first CD is not big enough to hold GNOME but I assume it will be on the first DVD. So maybe the decision was quickly made but it didn’t come from nowhere. You may sympathise with this response:


    The way the artwork for Wheezy was chosen also had its critics. See the June archive for debian-desktop. The work is done by people who step forward and surveys are not necessarily going to make that happen.

  6. #6 by Keith McKenzie on August 9th, 2012 - 10:37 am

    A lot of people have been using XFCE already, so the decision may have come from the package survey info.

  7. #7 by Brian on August 10th, 2012 - 12:23 pm

    So we have appropriate mailing lists and the BTS to express our views on the quality of the decision for the choice of a default DE on CD#1. Apart from the one reference I have given previously I have seen nothing of any substance yet. There is this thread which could be added to:


  8. #8 by Camaleón on August 10th, 2012 - 12:36 pm

    Yes, and here we had a problem with communication: users were not aware about this “issue” until they’ve read it from external sources (blogs, magazines, etc…). I’m susbscribed to Debian News and Debian Announce
    (and now added debian-devel and debian-devel-anounce) in a hope of trying to track these changes/decisions very closely because I’m interested on them but I wonder if this is just an impossible goal to achieve unless normal users subscribe to all of the development mailing lists.

    Sadly, me neither :-(

    Thanks, but still nothing clear (is a thread with only one reply which adds no additional info).


  9. #9 by Mika Suomalainen on August 11th, 2012 - 12:33 am

    And MATE is even closer :)


  10. #10 by Martin Steigerwald on August 11th, 2012 - 3:10 am


    Am Samstag, 11. August 2012 schrieb Lili-Anne Girard:

    Not directed at you personally but at the thread in general…

    So what… and in half a year it might be different again. And how representative is that? With 299 votes and then only 113 votes. So about
    185 people who voted in first survey didn´t vote in the second one. So exactly what statement do these results make?

    I didn´t even know about the survey until now.

    Frankly, I don´t get it.

    I never ever chosen the default desktop for years. So what?

    Its even accessible within the boot menu of netinst.

    Only thing that I think might be good is to put this selection prominently into the Debian Installer itself. Just in the tasksel selection

    - KDE
    - GNOME
    - XFCE
    - LXDE
    - and probably some single window manager setups like awesome or so

    or even make an extra dialog for it. That might be a good feature wish or bug report for bugs.debian.org

    Anyway, this discussion on debian-user is not reaching Joey Hess who made the change or someone else of the developers _unless_ they follow this list.

    So aside from venting frustrating about the discussion process this does not seem to be a discussion yielding any constructive outcome.

    So if someone wants to complain: Do it with the people who made the decision or the people who can change it.

    So short question: Do you want a change? Then stop discussing it here and carry your oppinion where it really can have an effect. Or start a petition and carry the results to there. Anything constructive, anything positive about it. Yes, thats more work than complaining here, but then … do you
    *really* want a change?

    Just complaining here, where Joey Hess or other developers may not even be reading, IMHO is just venting frustration . Has its sense do, but frankly I start to be annoyed about it cause to me it seems more and more like just complaining for the sake of complaining.

    I feel so free to set this thread to ignore in KMail now.


  11. #11 by Ralf Mardorf on August 11th, 2012 - 5:23 am

    Regards, Ralf

  12. #12 by Camaleón on August 10th, 2012 - 10:55 am

    That’s irrelevant because we are not debating on personal tastes
    (everyone has their own preferences).


  13. #13 by Camaleón on August 10th, 2012 - 10:50 am

    You can’t know because Debian XFCE is very different from another distribution XFCE so unless all of the Linux Audio Community users are using wheezy you can’t but guess.

    Please, avoid insulting another desktops >:-/

    Again, we are not talking about every user preferences. Defaults shouldn’t come from there but accomodate to what the majority wants.


  14. #14 by Ralf Mardorf on August 10th, 2012 - 10:20 am

    By upstream GNOME3 force to install pulseaudio, when I upgraded once upon a time, GNOME2 became GNOME3 and pulseaudio had broken my Debian. Than I got rid of pulseaudio, but GNOME3 has broken the common audio workflow, the workflow audio engineers are accustomed by using Apple, Microsoft and Linux.

    GNOME3 isn’t a successor of GNOME2, Xfce is much closer to GNOME2.

    Regards, Ralf

  15. #15 by Camaleón on August 12th, 2012 - 10:08 am


    And notice the “known issues”:

    * CD1 without a network mirror isn’t sufficient to install a full desktop environment.

    But how to interpret that? There’s no indicaction that the issue is being actively discussed elsewhere or nothing that can make the user to even imagine a new desktop default is in place :-)

    As I’ve been recently following “-devel” I can’t tell if this was mentioned here.

    And for -boot and -cd, I can’t see a strong reason to follow them, given that I have no direct relation with those projects (I’m neither a developer nor have opened any bug against them) and can’t really track all mailing lists for every single project, there are many!

    Instead, I would have expected that important changes (like this) are broadcasted to some “key” mailing list (such as -devel-announce or -news).

    These are in my “to-track” list since I installed my first Debian :-)

    And thanks Andrei, for your feedback.


  16. #16 by Rob Owens on August 8th, 2012 - 4:26 pm

    I always thought it would be a good idea to use XFCE instead of Gnome 3, but make it look like Gnome 2 (like Xubuntu does, or at least used to

  17. #17 by Keith McKenzie on August 8th, 2012 - 4:31 pm

    The present testing(wheezy) CD-1 gives a choice of Gnome, KDE, XFCE, or LXDE but if one is selected, I believe it will be downloaded &
    installed, because when I didn’t have a network connection, it only installed X & xterm, & not even a WM. I apt-get installed Fluxbox later & everything worked OK.


  18. #18 by Greg Madden on August 8th, 2012 - 7:15 pm

    Installed cd-1 in a Vbox instance, used the ‘no network mirror’ option. Without a mirror I get two selections in the ‘tasksel’ dialog .
    1. Debian desktop environment
    2. standard

    This looks like a very large net install image . You will need more than one cd to have a desktop/ WM environment.

    I can remember installing Debian from floppies, it seems cd’s are like floppies
    now. One dvd might contain enough for a complete graphical system, have not looked at the dvd’s.

  19. #19 by Camaleón on August 9th, 2012 - 9:00 am

    You’re right! Oh-My…

    Without asking to their user base nor a single survey to get some feedback before a final move like this… nothing? :-?

    But one could expect the tasksel team asks about this change to the rest of the involved teams (e.g., boot/cd and the others in charge of the DE
    packages such as GNOME/KDE/XFCE/LXDE…), right? I don’t mean to sound rude but this seems to be a rather quick decision with little debate over it.


  20. #20 by Camaleón on August 9th, 2012 - 9:13 am

    Do you really think that XFCE is tested in the same way that GNOME (and the same goes for Razor-QT and KDE, for instance)? I mean, there are more GNOME/KDE users out there than XFCE/LXDE/Razor-QT and more users means well probed software. To make a DE as a default for a distribution without being tested intensively can give a bad impression to newcomers.

    Which leads to another question: do you people seriously think there’s any gain in promoting an old toolkit such as GTK+2 over GTK+3? If users don’t like/don’t want the new gnome-shell desktop paradigm, wouldn’t be better to join forces with Cinnamon UI instead? Or looking for another alternatives to be the default?


  21. #21 by Camaleón on August 9th, 2012 - 9:25 am


    The first CD ISO of Debian has always given the possibility to trigger the installalation of the desktop environments you mention but only when using an Internet connection and only GNOME if you are not connected to the Internet (or manually select to use no mirrors at all).

    So, as far as I understand -and since this new change- the only option to install a DE from the first CD image (and no network link) will be just XFCE and people wanting to get GNOME right after the installation finishes will have to either a) get the new ISO image (bigger) or b)
    using external repositories when installing -which requires a good/stable connection.


  22. #22 by Camaleón on August 9th, 2012 - 11:09 am


    Mmm… let’s say what the numbers say:


    #rank name inst vote old recent no-files (maintainer)

    1054 gnome-core 39084 0 0 0 39084 (Debian Gnome Maintainers)

    3036 xfce4 8480 0 1 0 8479 (Debian Xfce Maintainers)

    3087 kde-standard 7990 0 0 0 7990 (Debian Qt/kde Maintainers)

    3692 openbox 5503 2313 2697 491 2 (Nico Golde)

    4399 kde-full 3841 0 0 0 3841 (Debian Qt/kde Maintainers)

    4535 lxde-common 3581 1513 1741 326 1 (Debian Lxde Maintainers)

    It seems that gnome-core is the most installed (of course, as it has been the default option and most users get just “the default”) then it comes xfce4, kde4, openbox and lxde.

    Votes go for openbox and lxde.

    But nowadays, how reliable/confident can be the numbers coming from PopCon?
    I have never installed nor make use of it.


  23. #23 by Mark Allums on August 9th, 2012 - 11:26 am

    What are the percentages of users who download a CD iso vs. a DVD? And compare that to the number of network installs? That is, surely everyone who wants GNOME has a DVD drive?

    Is this just a tempest in a teapot?


  24. #24 by Camaleón on August 9th, 2012 - 11:34 am

    Well, the idea came from one mind, that’s for sure :-) yet still there are many questions floating in the air and not just because of the decision itself but (warning, rant starts here):

    1/ The time of the change (when freeze is already in place)

    2/ The nature of the change (the installer is a key piece of any OS and it has to be well tested and yes, I run the installer from time to time in a VM to see if there’s something missing or that fails)

    3/ No feedback (there can be another alternatives to XFCE)

    He. Yes, that’s a nice one coming from Christian :-)

    Choosing the background, banner colours “et al” and defaulting a DE from the installer are not quite the same, I’d say >:-)


  25. #25 by John Hasler on August 9th, 2012 - 11:55 am

    Darac writes:

    All popcon numbers are much more than a little suspect.

    But it doesn’t matter. Gnome _does not fit_. I realize that most users break out into a sweat at the thought of dealing with anything but pointies and clickies and so there must be a default DE, but is selecting the one of your choice after inserting the second CD that onerous?

  26. #26 by Keith McKenzie on August 9th, 2012 - 12:37 pm

    On 9 August 2012

    I quite agree, I was just trying to suggest that the decision, most likely, was not made by one person, even though there may not have been open discussion about it.

    There has been a CD version which has XFCE+LXDE for a while now, so I
    think that there is a valid reason for this as a default for the CD
    version of installer, & keeping Gnome as the default for DVD installs should keep everyone happy, especially as Gnome can no longer be fitted onto a CD.

    :-) Personally, I prefer Light Weight to Heavy Weight, so I’m happy, even if your’e not. :-)

  27. #27 by Brian on August 9th, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    Really for sure? :)



    Freeze exception. To accomodate GNOME or KDE on CD#1 both DEs would have had to be cut down. More work for maintainers and complaints from users.

    The installer hasn’t left beta-1 yet. Plenty of time left.


    But the process of how the decisions are made and who makes them is the same.

  28. #28 by Joe on August 9th, 2012 - 1:54 pm

    In addition to the other replies, this *is* Debian, one of the major distributions in the server business. The values for the user-friendly distributions, even those based on Debian, will probably be much higher.

    I have a workstation and server running nothing but Debian, one with a GUI and one without. The workstation has run LXDE/Openbox since Gnome
    3 went into sid. I do still use a number of Gnome applications, so there’s still a fair bit of Gnome in the machine, but not the core.

    I do occasionally run sid on my laptop, which is about five years old and stands less than no chance with Gnome 3. Trust me, you don’t want to run sid occasionally, the updates are a gig or so each time. I have Xfce on that, to see how it fares against LXDE, but I use it so rarely that I still don’t know. It runs XP most of the time, as I use peripherals and proprietary software which are Windows-only.

    I do have a netbook which runs Ubuntu of a couple of years ago. To be honest, I don’t know much about the works, other than its networking. I think it runs as light a version of Gnome as was possible then, and there’s no way it will ever handle the current Gnome. The hard drive is
    8GB. But it does what I want it to do, which is mostly to be a thin client to my home server, and it’s a fraction of the weight of the laptop, which is better described as a ‘portable computer’.

    Knoppix hasn’t come on a CD for a long time (I have a copy of one of the last CD versions, and it fixed a grub problem when nothing else would) but even on DVD, it has used LXDE for a year or two.

  29. #29 by Ralf Mardorf on August 10th, 2012 - 9:09 am

    Oops, I first worked off other mails, now I’m working up the Debian mails. Pardon, I opened a similar thread, since this was announced at LAU.

    Regards, Ralf

  30. #30 by Camaleón on August 10th, 2012 - 9:24 am

    Yes, but in the sense of “someone” (a human being, a person → “one” as a pronoun) not “a single person” (→ “one” as a numeral) as you seemed to interpret :-)

    (aside note: why “https://” for public mailing list?)

    That post selects no specific DE, it simply enumerates a problem and gives some alternatives. Fair.

    And the same goes here.

    I understand there’s a new problem to solve but I also understand it has to be discussed at some level as usual, right?
    yet still there

    There are exceptions (single packages that can be updated) and exceptions
    (changes in the installer). Anyway, if the problem was detected back to the first days of May there was enough time to have reached a solution before the freeze took place (Wheezy was frozen in later June).

    Oh, good. But then I wonder why people is reluctant to make another changes in the installer like the one exposed at bug #684128 because we are plenty of time, aren’t we? >:-)

    Why not? If that’s what people wants (let users decice!). There are other options, of course.

    Yes, but that does not change the fact a decision (being a big change or a small one) is wrong or badly put.


  31. #31 by Ralf Mardorf on August 10th, 2012 - 9:25 am

    I suspect that most of the Linux Audio Community does use Xfce and LXDE
    under extreme hardcore conditions. Both are tested very well. Non of them is shit,as unstable DEs such as e17 are. I’m using Xfce on several distros, for a while there where issues regarding to GNOME apps, e.g. I experienced issues with Evolution running on Xfce, but those are fixed.

  32. #32 by Camaleón on August 12th, 2012 - 9:15 am

    (please, no html posts, thanks)

    I really doubt it, because the majority of users who first start with Debian usually get the default settings and options with no additional tweaks and the default DE in Debian has been GNOME.



    Sorry, but that kind of surveys do not count as trusted source because they can be easily “faked” (how are unique votes controlled?) and their scope is very limited (for instance, I do not use the forums) ;-)


  33. #33 by Camaleón on August 13th, 2012 - 8:46 am

    Or debian-cd, right? :-)

    But I’m not interested in the installer “per se” but the decisions about the whole project, which of course, also involves the installer as a core part of any distribution. Maybe is that my complaint is more focused to an excesive “fragmentation” of the project that makes it very difficult to follow.

    You mean a change on this can be still expected? I see no further discussions about the issuse on the above mentioned mailing lists, where is this being tracked/debated?


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