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Re: Proposal: switch default desktop to xfce

On Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 01:41 +0100, Steve McIntyre wrote:
> 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) 
>    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.

> 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.

Thank you Steve for elaborating and I am happy that you did as it allowed me
to focus to the core of *this* discussion.

1. How will new users pick a desktop environment?

2. How can be produce sets of CDs that are of use to our users and do not
   put too much stress on the mirrors.

No default DE?!

I believe that the question which desktop environment to use is one of the
*very few* that a new user actually wants to answer and we should enable users
to do that in a pleasant and informed way. Old users will know already what
they want and they can choose that more easily. I also believe that not
choosing a default DE but treating all "blessed" DEs as equal is a very strong
and positive statement the Debian project could make in the sense of "We do
support all of Gnome, KDE, LXDE, XFCE, ... to the same high standard".

You might disagree with this and I can happily accept that, but I personally
think that this is at least worth considering.

Another aspect I like about this decision is that it would free us from the
need to have this discussion ever again. Once a desktop environment is well
maintained and packaged it could (should?) be offered.

The implementation could be as easy as providing a short description,
screenshots, maybe a short video and a link to the upstream project for each
DE on the website and in the installer. (naturally not all of these are
appropriate everywhere).

But what about CD images?

The actual technical argument against not choosing a default DE is based on
the perceived inability (due to size constraints) to offer suitable CD image
sets for each "flavour". Choosing, say, XFCE as opposed to Gnome allows us to
survive yet another release in which we will be able to offer a CD1 for each
of XFCE (default), Gnome, KDE and LXDE and then CD2-CD? tailored for XFCE.

I am not sure if this constraint is one that can be upheld forever and the
problems to create CD1 images that contain all packages to install the
respective "Desktop" task during the last two (?) releases underline this. It
seems as if there will be the need to create, say, CD1+CD2 specific to a
desktop environment and then CD3-CD? for the remaining packages. (or CD1, CD2
+ CD3 specifically) soon and that the choice to offer CD images limits our
options. What's the point of shipping a Gnome CD1 if "it's not big enough any
more to contain even a fairly minimal Gnome"? (likewise for KDE or XFCE and
LXDE in 2, 4, 6, 10 years)
Wolodja <debian@babilen5.org>

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