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Re: Proposal: switch default desktop to xfce

Wolodja wrote:
>On Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 16:40 +0100, Steve McIntyre wrote:
>> This goes back to during the wheezy release cycle. There was a little
>> discussion around a change in tasksel [1], but rather too late in the
>> day for the change to make sense. Now we have rather more time, I
>> feel. Let's change the default desktop for installation to xfce.
>Do we really need a default desktop?
>The only arguments in favour of it I can think of is that it spares users to
>make an informed decision (which might be overwhelming to a user new to Linux)
>and that the content of CD2 depends on it. (thanks ansgar)

I guess not everybody understands the reasons for Debian choosing a
default desktop, so I'll explain/expand them here.

1. We have several types of installation media (netboot, netinst, DVD,
   BD) where we can happily install any desktop - they either contain
   *all* of the bits needed for any of the desktops, or *none*. The
   choice was made years ago to *not* ask users which desktop they
   prefer during the tasksel phase, to reduce the number of questions
   that new users would have to answer. Hence, we chose a
   default. Since that point, we've added options in the boot menus on
   these generic media (where possible, via isolinux or grub) to make
   it easier to make a desktop choice, but to the best of my knowledge
   most people just take the default option. We *could* revisit the
   tasksel design choice to not list all the desktops if people want -
   that's another discussion to have, maybe.

2. Secondly, our first full-size CD image is not big enough to contain
   all the desktops. In fact, it's not big enough any more to contain
   even a fairly minimal Gnome alone, but let's not digress. We've
   also had a long-standing aim to allow people to do reasonable
   installations using just that first CD, so we need to pick the
   default for that CD.

   We've since expanded our choice of CDs to add alternative versions
   of CD#1 for KDE, LXDE and XFCE. We explicitly *only* make CD#1 for
   these alternatives, rather than a full set of CDs. That would be
   very wasteful in terms of mirror space, download bandwidth etc. for
   a comparatively small set of changes in terms of CD contents from
   one set to another. Hence, we've made *one* of the desktop choices
   the default, and we build a full CD set around that choice. If a
   user wants to install from a set of CDs but choose a different
   desktop, they currently need to add the Gnome CD#1 through CD#n to
   their alternative desktop version of CD#1.

   I don't think it would be a sensible option to have multiple sets
   of CDs, each tailored to a specific desktop. Hence, we end up
   picking a default here too.

>I understand that the both of these are good arguments, but maybe solutions
>can be found for both. One idea would be the design of better download pages
>[0] that provide minimal information about the desktop environments like a
>picture of the desktop and a link to the upstream project. Not sure what to do
>with the CD sets though.

Quite. :-/

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
Support the Campaign for Audiovisual Free Expression: http://www.eff.org/cafe/

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