Debian, the foundation upon which many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, are based, is to switch to Xfce as its default desktop environment.

News of the switch came by way of this commit from developer Joey Hess. Hess cites a number of reasons as to why Debian 8.0, codenamed “Jessie”, will benefit from Xfce. These include:

  • Accessibility support, particularly for visually-impared users
  • Xfce being closer to the “GNOME 2” experience
  • CD space constraints

But GNOME isn’t out of contention entirely. Developers intend to re-evaluate this decision before Jessie enters freeze. If data shows that GNOME is the better default option for users it is likely be reinstated as default.

A final decision on this will be taken, Hess says, nearer August 2014, and will be informed by:

  • The numbers of installs of GNOME 3 on Debian whilst defaulting to Xfce
  • Improvements made to GNOME 3 in accessibility & feature parity to GNOME 2
  • User feedback on interface changes on-going in GNOME 3 development

For now Xfce will be distributed by default. Not that this will affect too many users: Debian 8.0 has yet to be given a release date!

The lightweight Xfce desktop had previously been debated for default during the Debian 7.0 ‘Wheezy’ development cycle.

Do you use Debian? Which desktop would you prefer to have installed by default? Does it even matter? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Dev Debian xfce