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Re: Proposal: switch default desktop to xfce

Hi Steve, thanks for starting this discussion.

I was quite intrigued by the responses which challenged whether we need
a default at all, but if we accept that a default is required (as you
outline and as others have said), I have two separate thoughts to
ponder about proceeding:

 • we define some technical criteria that a desktop environment must
   meet in order to be picked for default (as we have architecture
   criteria for example) and we then see what DEs remain after
   applying that filter. I intuitively like this idea but I suspect
   it won't work.

 • we define and maintain a "Debian Desktop Environment" which is a
   superset of an upstream DE, perhaps with things added, things
   removed, policies changed. We already use the term "Debian Desktop
   Environment" in tasksel but it has little meaning at the moment.
   The teams packaging upstream DEs (quite rightly) try to make sure
   that the DEs are packaged as faithfully as possible, whereas a 
   "Debian Desktop Environment" may wish to diverge from upstream on
   a technical or policy matter. This could fold in the debian-desktop
   effort (which, afaik, mostly focusses on producing a mega-theme for
   releases so that software across DEs and toolkits have some UI
   similarity/Debian release branding).
   I suspect this is too much work and all the DE teams are screaming
   out for more help already.

On Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 01:41:42AM +0100, Steve McIntyre wrote:
> 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.

I was very curious about how the boot menu stuff worked, so I took a
look and here's a summary for anyone else not clear. (I'll not pass
judgement on the current situation in this thread, I guess feedback
would be better sent to debian-boot).

Using debian-7.2.0-i386-netinst.iso, The relevant parts of the ISOLINUX
boot menu structure are:

(root) → Install
       → Advanced Options → Alternative desktop environments → KDE

Notably absent is GNOME, here. Proceeding with an install, tasksel has
"Debian Desktop Environment". This installs a different desktop
environment depending on the boot options selected: GNOME by default, 
KDE/LXDE/XFCE instead if you selected those options in the boot menu.

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