Debian drops GNOME, chooses Xfce as default desktop

Remember Debian, the 'mother' of many popular Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint? For the next release called Debian Wheezy, developers have chosen to replace GNOME with Xfce as the new default desktop environment. The semiofficial reason for the move, is a bit odd though.

According to Joey Hess, a developer of the Debian Installer Team, GNOME has become too big to fit on the next Debian CD. Xfce is indeed lighter and smaller than GNOME, but it's still quite strange, because other distributions with the latest version of GNOME don't complain about the same problem. The idea of a release fitting on CD is a bit old-fashioned too. Windows comes on a DVD or as a download, Mac OS X is a download too and some Linux distributions offer a DVD release too. With some effort, a USB key could be a solution too.

Hess does say that 'There may be other reasons to prefer Xfce as the default as well,' but doesn't elaborate on the subject. We all know GNOME isn't as popular as before among Linux users as of version three, which could be the real reason behind the developer's move. Xfce has a resemblance to the old GNOME 2, which could appeal more to long time Debian users than the new GNOME 3 interface. Debian is also replacing the old GDM login manager with LightDM.

Source: Debian.org via Phoronix

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60 Comments

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Lol at the actual post on their website:

So, I've decided to be bold,
and continue the tradition of making an arbitrary desktop selection for
Debian in tasksel.

So other than it not being Gnome, looks like they didn't really care what desktop was set as default, lol.

Good, I wasn't looking forward to using Gnome 3 in the next release. I don't understand the reason given though, because as of right now, you either use a "net install" disc to download the latest version of everything you select from their servers, and the CD only contains about 150MB of data to run the installer and initiate the downloads, or you download the full release, which is several CDs / DVDs.

The space issue would be minimized if both upstream and Debian payed more attention to bitmap images size and graveyard code. Not joking.

I tried to like Gnome 3 and KDE.. Really I did... Gave them plenty of chances... But I find Xfce just works cleaner and without all the cruft. It is my DM of choice now. Went ahead and installed the latest Xubuntu on a spare machine in preparation of Steam for Linux too.

Gnome 3 and KDE 4 have gone too far, they are to big and less usable. Personally i prefer LXDE. It should be mention that even Linus Thorvalds said about a year ago that it don't like KDE 4. Gnome 3 has take somehow the same direction as KDE 4, so...

eiffel_g said,
Gnome 3 and KDE 4 have gone too far, they are to big and less usable. Personally i prefer LXDE. It should be mention that even Linus Thorvalds said about a year ago that it don't like KDE 4. Gnome 3 has take somehow the same direction as KDE 4, so...

KDE4 and Gnome3 are NOTHING alike. Not even a little.

Shadowzz said,

KDE4 and Gnome3 are NOTHING alike. Not even a little.

Not alike. Just got the wrong way - too big and less usable.

Probably because GNOME has turned into an ugly mess that nobody wants to use. They just used the CD excuse to cover it up so the GNOME devs don't cry about it. #conspiracy

neonspark said,
and crap like this is why I'm glad I never have to use Linux.
Nobody "has" to use Linux. It's a personal choice.

zikalify said,
Nobody "has" to use Linux. It's a personal choice.

I have to use Linux at work... But then I quite like Linux and I've got a Windows 7 virtual machine running on the Linux box for anything I cant get done quickly in Linux.

Z'Loth said,
1999 called. They want their CDs back.

That would be funny if in 2012 we didn't have stores full of software on shelves that still use CD's as their medium.

And there's nothing stopping anyone from downloading the iso's and putting them on usb pen drives.

sean.ferguson said,
It was just a matter of time really, since gnome3 - users have migrated to xfce - its a very clean desktop environment.

Eh went with KDE 4 myself, Xfce just felt a little stagnant for my tastes, but whatever works.. at least both more or less kept with their strengths versus going on a wild tangent like the GNOME team decided to do. Change is good when it brings improvements, change just to shake things up (and not making sense half the time), not so much.

Max Norris said,

Eh went with KDE 4 myself, Xfce just felt a little stagnant for my tastes, but whatever works.. at least both more or less kept with their strengths versus going on a wild tangent like the GNOME team decided to do. Change is good when it brings improvements, change just to shake things up (and not making sense half the time), not so much.

It's nice that we have so much to choose from in the GNU/Linux ecosystem

simplezz said,
It's nice that we have so much to choose from in the GNU/Linux ecosystem

Don't run it in Linux myself (BSD and occasionally Windows for giggles) but I understand the sentiment.

simplezz said,
It's nice that we have so much to choose from in the GNU/Linux ecosystem

Don't run it in Linux myself (BSD and occasionally Windows for giggles) but I understand the sentiment.

It reminds me of hanging out with new friends you like better and trying to explain to your old friends that it's just because it's easier since they work in the same building and you'll totally get together some time soon honest.

Shame. I thought they'd be using CDE seeing as only debian and ubuntu can run it at the moment.

n_K said,
Shame. I thought they'd be using CDE seeing as only debian and ubuntu can run it at the moment.

Install it yourself, suckaaa!!!11

/joking

GS:ios

LauRoman said,
Gnome (3) doesn't come on the Ubuntu CD also. And for years Debian DVDs have been available, 7 or 8 and about a couple for updates. They are probably talking either of the livecd or the first cd of the cd version of it, which has 53 not including the updates or the alternative cd no1 (which can be either kde or xfce+lxde):

http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/6.0.5/amd64/iso-cd/


Last ubuntu I installed had Gnome3 instead of Unity.
Debian unstable had (a bout 2-3 weeks ago) also Gnome 3 as default.

IT SUCKS MASSIVELY

Marcin Kurek said,
Great news. Not that I hate GNOME, but I adore Xfce.

I second that. XFCE is a really nice DE. I like Gnome 2 (MATE) and 3 too. That's what's great about GNU/Linux, there's a desktop environment for everyone.

simplezz said,

I second that. XFCE is a really nice DE. I like Gnome 2 (MATE) and 3 too. That's what's great about GNU/Linux, there's a desktop environment for everyone.


Great about Linux, and exactly why Linux now desperately needs Valve to create a unified app store. Because that thing that's "great about Linux" is what makes it horrendously inaccessible to over 98% of consumers.

/and remember kids, if Windows ever fails, they'll allllllll go to Macs

Marcin Kurek said,
Great news. Not that I hate GNOME, but I adore Xfce.

Thirded. I'm a big XFCE fanboy. It's simple, it styles well, and it stays the hell out of the way when I want to get stuff done.

Best of all, they know they've got a solid formula, and appear to be sticking to it.

Majesticmerc said,

Thirded. I'm a big XFCE fanboy. It's simple, it styles well, and it stays the hell out of the way when I want to get stuff done.

Best of all, they know they've got a solid formula, and appear to be sticking to it.

Agreed. The GNOME and KDE people really have shot themselves in their collective feet with all the radical changes. The XFCE Team have already said they'd NEVER pull such a stunt.

In my view, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. So, yeah.

simplezz said,

I second that. XFCE is a really nice DE. I like Gnome 2 (MATE) and 3 too. That's what's great about GNU/Linux, there's a desktop environment for everyone.


Funny, cause any features GNOME or XFCE has, can be run on Windows aswell. At least since XP days already I was able to have rotating 3d desktop tube, wobbly windows and other bull people find amazing in a linux desktop.
MS doesnt really force explorer, they keep the door open for other desktop window managers.

Shadowzz said,
rotating 3d desktop tube, wobbly windows and other bull people find amazing in a linux desktop.

No, that's just Windows people being impressed by Compiz.

nohone said,

No, it is the year of Linux.


Your comment could be taken more seriously I think, with people such as the guy from valve saying windows 8 is ****, bring valve to linux and more oems will follow dell, hopefully

.Neo said,
CDs... What year is this? 2002?
Dont forget most burn to usb, smaller the iso the smaller the usb needs to be, useful cus a lot are 1gb

Just because Steam CLIENT is being released on Linux does not mean the games are coming to Linux. Only Valve's own games will be ported at start. I doubt other developers will start pumping out Linux ports just because of Steam.

zikalify said,
Dont forget most burn to usb, smaller the iso the smaller the usb needs to be, useful cus a lot are 1gb

The prices of a 2 GB USB stick being stellar of course anno 2012...

.Neo said,

The prices of a 2 GB USB stick being stellar of course anno 2012...
i know theyre not much but its a convenience this if you can put on something you already own

Dhalamar said,
Just because Steam CLIENT is being released on Linux does not mean the games are coming to Linux. Only Valve's own games will be ported at start. I doubt other developers will start pumping out Linux ports just because of Steam.
fair point, they didnt rush to the mac either. however i think it all depends on how much of a turn off win8 is to game devs i suppose

.Neo said,
CDs... What year is this? 2002?
Yea, Linux Distros still try to focus on LiveCDs rather than Live DVDs. Might be 2012, but bandwidth is still expensive and many packages found on a DVD really aren't needed for a live OS.

Infact I'd argue you can leave a lot of them out (games). But that's me.

zikalify said,
fair point, they didnt rush to the mac either. however i think it all depends on how much of a turn off win8 is to game devs i suppose

We still have Windows 7. Nothing will change.

.Neo said,
CDs... What year is this? 2002?

Well actually it's just an iso image and can be put on a usb pen drive or cd. It's a good idea to keep the size down to less than 700mb anyway. I don't want to be downloading gigs just to get a distro iso.

Dhalamar said,

We still have Windows 7. Nothing will change.

Really? And how long do you intend on keeping Windows 7? Because Microsoft's not going to ditch the Startscreen or metro any time soon.

Windows 7 is a pretty good OS, but I wouldn't want to be stuck on it for the next 5 years or more while everything else evolves.

Dhalamar said,
Just because Steam CLIENT is being released on Linux does not mean the games are coming to Linux. Only Valve's own games will be ported at start. I doubt other developers will start pumping out Linux ports just because of Steam.

I respectfully disagree. I think they were waiting for someone else to make the first move is all. Now that they've proven that X works (and better than DirectX in most cases) and have done the "grunt work", I think gaming on Linux will finally become mainstream.

BetaguyGZT said,

I respectfully disagree. I think they were waiting for someone else to make the first move is all. Now that they've proven that X works (and better than DirectX in most cases) and have done the "grunt work", I think gaming on Linux will finally become mainstream.

You probably meant to say OpenGL here, not X. X refers to X11, which isn't the right comparison for DirectX.

Anyway, I agree with you on disagreeing about the games. Although my opinion is also related to OpenGL, in that if Valve demonstrates with their Source engine that money is to be made by supporting OpenGL, I wouldn't be surprised at all if other middleware developers (Unreal Engine, Unity, etc) start supporting it. And once they do that, THEN the games can and likely will follow.

zikalify said,
i know theyre not much but its a convenience this if you can put on something you already own

Someone owning a 2 GB memory stick anno 2012 being practically unique of course...

cybertimber2008 said,
Might be 2012, but bandwidth is still expensive

Maybe in your country, but not in the Netherlands. No bandwidth caps here for as long as I can remember.

.Neo said,
CDs... What year is this? 2002?

I'd expect BD's from ubuntu not CD's. X_X wonder if ubuntu will do anything major. Not that ubuntu is important right now.. I only know debian as far as zips or installs go. So I'm not programmer. Heck if you wanted to save on money you could may the single layer dvds that PC Gamer puts out. (rather flexible and easy to break. Thought something was wrong when we got out 2008 floods book from a local station with this thing in it. Just a single layer of plastic. Compared to standard dvd's with 2 pieces of plastic adheared to each other. Just dumb... But that reminds me , was gonna stick my old ubuntu drive in my newer toshiba. which is the great thing about ubuntu. same drive. doesn't matter was laptop I stick it on.