Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious drama!

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Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious drama!

Postby confuseling » 2013-10-30 15:58

If you have a strong stomach, it's that time of the release cycle again...

http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/20 ... reads.html
http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=727708

For what it's worth, I kinda like the idea of having the installer just ask. I know I wouldn't have known which DE I wanted when I first installed Linux, but I honestly think the subset of users who would switch off in disgust at a menu asking "Which of these should be installed?: Xfce4 - simple and relatively conventional, good for older machines. KDE4 - highly configurable desktop with advanced features..." etc. etc. is very small.

How would you decide on the blurb? I suppose the projects (or the maintainers, as their Debian 'delegates') could write them, or you could let the users vote (e.g. "Which five adjectives or short phrases best describe the best features of your chosen DE? What about the worst?" I suppose you'd have to get people to pick from a list, or there would be too much controversy in tallying up similar results).

For small install media you could just then have 1 - 2 CDs for each DE specifically, and general CDs after that. The same explanations could feature on the 'Downloads' page, so again, no real need for a default to my (frequently confused) mind.

I don't have any particularly strong feelings about systemd. Some of its features seem very clever, some of them don't appeal at all. Why would you want binary log files? It makes no sense to me (but then I'm sure I'm missing something...). The loss of modularity does sound like a real concern though.

(and in case you're wondering: no, I haven't read it all. Weak stomach... :D )
Last edited by confuseling on 2013-10-30 22:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby llivv » 2013-10-30 16:05

I've been holding stuff in sid for months now.
I finally got tired of watching how thi is pulling that and it's friends
and ditched all the holds.
Now I'm trying to make the thing run again after downgrading it back to ( stable
( just to make sure I get the system downgraded )).
I wouldn't recommend an average desktop user try this disaster on the making... arrrr

god help jessie - please!
in the kitchen with Julia ....
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby bw123 » 2013-10-30 18:26

confuseling wrote:How would you decide on the blurb?



How about the blurb says "We can't read your mind so if you don't like the way your installation works you can change it later."

I like more choices as early as possible at installation time, but how to make all the choices available, and how to describe them... well I guess that's the problem the list is working on?
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby confuseling » 2013-10-30 18:42

llivv - that's why I default to Testing. I let you braver souls sort out the mess for me :wink:

bw123 - The problem is overwhelming new users.

It's easy enough to install the base system from the netinst, then install whichever desktop metapackage / DM you want.

If you'd told me to do that when I started, I'd have had no clue whatsoever what you were talking about. I probably would have persevered (I'd bought myself a netbook with the specific intention of learning Linux), but many wouldn't.

I personally think you can make a menu allowing people to choose their DE without making it too complicated or biased, though others disagree...

You'd certainly need a non-technical description of what it is you are being asked to choose, and what the merits of the various options are. How you decide which alternatives qualify to be in the menu, I'm not sure. I suppose each major DE (something like 10 choices?), and anyone who wants a WM is assumed to be able to sort it out themselves. Or simply semi-arbitrarily pick a cut-off point in popcon stats. Even so, 10 choices is quite a lot, so I can see how some have a problem with it.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby PhilGil » 2013-10-30 21:25

confuseling wrote:You'd certainly need a non-technical description of what it is you are being asked to choose, and what the merits of the various options are. How you decide which alternatives qualify to be in the menu, I'm not sure. I suppose each major DE (something like 10 choices?), and anyone who wants a WM is assumed to be able to sort it out themselves. Or simply semi-arbitrarily pick a cut-off point in popcon stats. Even so, 10 choices is quite a lot, so I can see how some have a problem with it.


My count is six major DE's: Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, Mate, and Cinnamon; seven if you include E-17. It's still unclear whether Mate and/or CInnamon will be packaged with Jessie, so there could be fewer. I agree with you that anyone using a window manager or more obscure DE is most likely capable of configuring their system without any hand-holding from the release team.

Granted, that's still a lot for a newbie to wrap their head around. An overabundance of options seems to be both Linux's greatest strength and its greatest weakness.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby confuseling » 2013-10-30 21:43

PhilGil wrote:...
My count is six major DE's: Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, Mate, and Cinnamon; seven if you include E-17. It's still unclear whether Mate and/or CInnamon will be packaged with Jessie, so there could be fewer. I agree with you that anyone using a window manager or more obscure DE is most likely capable of configuring their system without any hand-holding from the release team.


There are a few others that might make a reasonable case that "If there's a menu where you select what you want to download, we deserve to be on it". The Arch Wiki for example lists 16 (some I've never heard of, at least two are merging, and at least two aren't packaged in Debian...)

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/De ... nvironment

Major is probably fatally subjective (I intend to throw a hissy fit if they don't include xmonad :lol: ), which is why I brought up popcon.

Granted, that's still a lot for a newbie to wrap their head around. An overabundance of options seems to be both Linux's greatest strength and its greatest weakness.


That I can definitely agree with :-)
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby PhilGil » 2013-10-30 22:20

confuseling wrote:There are a few others that might make a reasonable case that "If there's a menu where you select what you want to download, we deserve to be on it". The Arch Wiki for example lists 16 (some I've never heard of, at least two are merging, and at least two aren't packaged in Debian...)

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/De ... nvironment

Major is probably fatally subjective (I intend to throw a hissy fit if they don't include xmonad :lol: ), which is why I brought up popcon.


Actually, Arch's offically supported list + Mate matches my seven "major DE's." How about making the distinction between "Mainstream DE's" and "Enthusiast DE's/WM's". Obviously, there would still be some judgement calls (IMHO LXDE would be mainstream, Enlightenment would be enthusiast). That would provide better guidance to newbies while not excluding your beloved Xmonad from the list.

Certainly the list would need to be reevaluated with each new release. I think, for example, that Pantheon and Razor-qt both show a lot of promise, but I don't think they'll be mainstream by the time Jessie is frozen.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby confuseling » 2013-10-30 22:36

Indeed - I'm not saying I disagree with your list, just that whatever is chosen will be an ongoing controversy unless there's some empirical basis to it, which is going to have to be popcon or a purpose built survey, I suppose.

[I wish I could give a comma separated list to popcon and have it plot several packages on the same graph...]
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby Randicus » 2013-10-30 22:46

Personally, I think there is no need for GUI descriptions in the installer. The better place for them is in the instruction manual. I do not believe it is unreasonable to expect people new to a system (by that I mean the Linux world) to at least scim through the instructions before installing.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby dasein » 2013-10-30 23:56

Aw, crap. This is gonna suck.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby confuseling » 2013-10-31 01:37

It will if it kills kFreeBSD / Hurd...

That said, I do have sympathy for the "you can't hold the Linux ports back because of a few hundred users". It's a valid argument, but that doesn't make it a sound one: I don't know if systemd is sufficiently advantageous to be the thing that kills them.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby dasein » 2013-10-31 02:25

confuseling wrote:I don't know if systemd is sufficiently advantageous to be the thing that kills them.

Even systemd partisans will ultimately grudgingly admit that it doesn't solve any actual problems. Like pulseaudio, it's a textbook example of gratuitous change. It's GNOMEThink applied to a core system component.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby Birdy » 2013-10-31 08:06

As long the installer asks me which audioplayer i want to install and which wallpaper to choose i am fine.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby mor » 2013-10-31 10:31

There is one thing that I'm not getting: if the problem in the mailing list and related bug concerns the default init system controversy, why are we talking about the choice of a DE during install?

Ok, I understand (I think at least) that having systemd as a dependency of Gnome would drag along a series of complications that at the moment I cannot fathom, but how is that a problem of choosing different DE (or WM) during install?

Don't we choose a DE when we download a CD? (Yes, I know that only four DE are offered, but still how does that affect the init controversy?)

I'm missing something here.
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Re: Xfce4 default for Jessie? systemd + GNOME + delicious dr

Postby confuseling » 2013-10-31 10:53

The problem, as I understand it, is that GNOME requires logind, which is tightly integrated with systemd.

If GNOME is the default DE, that 'forces' systemd on unwilling users, and a lot of developers think this is an unacceptable 'land-grab' on the part of GNOME / Red Hat devs. It would also be bad for kFreeBSD / Hurd, on which systemd doesn't work.

There's another faction that argues that systemd is the future (it's used by Red Hat, SUSE, Arch, many others), and there's no point swimming the other way.

Some of the proposed solutions seem to be

1) Separate systemd into different modules, allowing people to reimplement the parts they disagree with, and port / work around the parts that don't work on the other kernels. Upstream aren't cooperating, and don't use well documented stable interfaces, so most seem to think that's basically impossible.

2) Use a different init / default DE, and make the installation of GNOME / systemd 'voluntary'. This would make it less important if it doesn't work, or only partially works, on the other ports.

3) Have different init systems / defaults DEs depending on which port you choose. Maintaining compatibility with several different init systems for so many packages may prove to be a lot of work, though there's some discussion of partly automating the process.

4) Switch to systemd, keep GNOME, and spin off the other ports as derivatives, giving them more latitude to change the defaults.

As I said, I've only really skimmed a few of the threads, so I'm sure it's more complicated than that.

There seems to be a consensus that there's no realistic chance of a consensus, so some devs want the tech committee to decide (which is itself controversial, since several Ubuntu developers are sitting, and Ubuntu obviously favour Upstart over systemd), and others want a general resolution - a mass vote.
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