[Pkg-xfce-devel] Reverting to GNOME for jessie's default desktop

Joel Rees joel.rees at gmail.com
Sun Aug 10 22:49:21 UTC 2014

(Sure wish I could get drivers for this Acer tablet so I could get replace
the vendor-constricted Android with a real OS and get software that
wouldn't misinterpret what my fingers do on the screen. But, then, I
suppose I should go to the trouble of booting up a regular computer for

2014/08/11 7:32 "Joel Rees" <joel.rees at gmail.com>:
> 2014/08/08 6:58 "Jordi Mallach" <jordi at debian.org>:
> >
> > Hi Debian,
> >
> > It's been around 9 months since tasksel changed (for real) the default
> > desktop for new installs. At the time of the change, it was mentioned
> > the issue would be revisited before the freeze, around debconf time.
> >
> > Well, it's roughly that time. :) So I'd like to plainly request GNOME is
> > reinstated as the default desktop environment for a number of reasons.
> First thought: Since systemd has been chosen as the one true way of the
future, it seems only obvious that GNOME should be the default desktop.
> > Accessibility: GNOME continues to be the only free desktop environment
> > provides full accessibility coverage, right from login screen. While
it’s true
> > GNOME 3.0 was lacking in many areas, and GNOME 3.4 (which we shipped in
> > was just barely acceptable thanks to some last minute GDM fixes, GNOME
> > should have ironed out all of the issues and our non-expert
understanding is
> > that a11y support is now on par with what GNOME 2.30 from squeeze
> There are a number of regular participants on debian-user who have a11y
needs. Would it be too much to ask, to ask them whether GNOME meets their
> > Downstream health: The number of active members in the team taking care
> > GNOME in Debian is around 5-10 persons, while it is 1-2 in the case of
> > Being the default desktop draws a lot of attention (and bug reports)
that only
> > a bigger team might have the resources to handle.
> It has been mentioned in the past, but developers work on what they want
to work on. That may or may not be related to whether a particular DE is
appropriate for general rcommendation.
> > Upstream health: While GNOME is still committed to its time-based
> > schedule and ships new versions every 6 months, Xfce upstream is,
> > unfortunately, struggling a bit more to keep up with new plumbing
> > Only very recently it has regained support to suspend/hibernate via
logind, or
> > support for Bluez 5.x, for example.
> Should consider the reasons for the breakage, as well.
> > Community: GNOME is one of the biggest free software projects, and is
lucky to
> > have created an ecosystem of developers, documenters, translators and
> > that interact regularly in a live social community. Users and
developers gather
> > in hackfests and big, annual conferences like GUADEC, the Boston
Summit, or
> > GNOME.Asia. Only KDE has a comparable community, the rest of the free
> > projects don’t have the userbase or manpower to sustain communities
like this.
> With a community that big, would it be unreasonable to ask them to
maintain their own distro? Or perhaps their own liveCD? Eh, well, liveSD.
> > Localization: Localization is more extensive and complete in GNOME.
 Xfce has
> > 18 languages above 95% of coverage, and 2 at 100% (excluding English),
> > has 28 languages above 95%, 9 of them being complete (excluding
> LOL.
> No, seriously, is there any meaning to the claim of "complete"?
> I've seen a lot of bad Japanese translation, recently, that, if I had
more time, I'd file bugs on.
> > Documentation: Documentation coverage is extensive in GNOME, with most
of the
> > core applications providing localized, up to date and complete manuals,
> > available in an accessible format via the Help reader.
> See above. Documentation and translation have something in common here.
Particularly since documentation should be translation from technical
language to the more common vernacular.
> > Hardware: GNOME 3.12 will be one of the few desktop environments to
> > HiDPI displays, now very common on some laptop models. Lack of support
> > HiDPI means non-technical users will get an unreadable desktop by
default, and
> > no hints on how to fix that.

I'm thinking this sounds like an argument for postponing freeze.

> > Security: GNOME is more secure. There are no processes launched with
> > permissions on the user’s session. All everyday operations (package
> > disk partitioning and formatting, date/time configuration…) are
> > through PolicyKit wrappers.

With the volume of new code, can such claims be serious?

> > Privacy: One of the latest focuses of GNOME development is improving
> > and work is being done to make it easy to run GNOME applications in
> > containers, integrate Tor seamlessly in the desktop experience, better
> > encryption support and other features that should make GNOME a more
> > desktop environment for end users.

TOR has what to do with real privacy?

> > Popularity: One of the metrics discussed by the tasksel change
> > mentioned popcon numbers. 8 months after the desktop change, Xfce does
not seem
> > to have made a dent on install numbers.  The Debian GNOME team doesn’t
> > popcon’s data is any better than a random online poll though, as it’s
an opt-in
> > service which the vast majority of users don’t enable.

Since when has popcon been assumed to give meaningful results? The
shortcomings of the approach have been known from the beginning. Nothing
has changed that would improve the statistical significance of the numbers.

> > systemd embracing: One of the reasons to switch to Xfce was that it
> > depend on systemd. But now that systemd is the default, that shouldn’t
be a
> > problem. Also given ConsoleKit is deprecated and dead upstream, KDE and
> > are switching or are planning to switch to systemd/logind.

Isn't this essentially the sum of your thsis

> > In addition to this, moving to Xfce now would mean yet another
transition to
> > a new desktop (if we consider GNOME 2.x → 3.x a transition, which it
> > which would mean a new round of adapation for users installing Debian
> > scratch, and only after two years after getting used to the GNOME 3
> > jessie's GNOME 3.x release should be a lot more polished than what we
> > with wheezy, which means many of the rough edges and annoyances people
> > have found when upgrading from squeeze are probably now ironed out.
> >
> > Many members of the Debian GNOME team feel shipping Xfce by default
> > mean regressing in a few key areas like, as mentioned before,
> > localisation and documentation of the default set of applications. We
are wary
> > about the state of some features of the current default with respect
> > to power management and bluetooth, for example. These features are
driven by,
> > and working since day 1, by GNOME 3.12.
> >
> > Jordi
> > --
> > Jordi Mallach Pérez  --  Debian developer     http://www.debian.org/
> > jordi at sindominio.net     jordi at debian.org     http://www.sindominio.net/
> > GnuPG public key information available at http://oskuro.net/
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