Debian changes default desktop environment from GNOME to Xfce

Almost in silence, Debian oldtimer Joey Hess made a commit that will switch default desktop task from GNOME to Xfce in Debian's forthcoming 7.0 Wheezy release. And that was an excellent choice, if I may add!

Xfce is full featured, but lightweight desktop environment whose best days are yet to come. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly. And those are all good reasons for Joey to make it the default, so a desktop environment can fit on Debian installer's CD#1, which GNOME currently does not.

It's a shame that once very popular GNOME desktop environment has grown so big and bloated, and at the same time lost so many good features that made it popular in the first place. The very reason why I decided to jump ship after a decade of using GNOME and switch to Xfce. The good thing is, I'm actually happier with Xfce than I was with GNOME 2.

GNOME Desktop project 10 years old!

Exactly 10 years ago, on 15th August 1997, Miguel de Icaza started his first announcement about GNOME Desktop project with this words:

We want to develop a free and complete set of user friendly applications and desktop tools, similar to CDE and KDE but based entirely on free software:

  • We want the applications to have a common look and feel, and to share as many visual elements and UI concepts as possible.
  • We want to use the GTK toolkit as our toolkit for writing the applications.
  • We want to encourage people to contribute code and to test the code, so that the software will compile out of the box by using GNU's tools for automatic source configuration.

CFS scheduler to appear in Linux kernel 2.6.23

The Linux kernel process scheduler, as you know it, has been completely ripped out and replaced with a completely new one called Completely Fair Scheduler (CFS). How fair it will be, remains to be seen, but in the meantime here's what its original creator Ingo Molnar has to say on the subject:

80% of CFS's design can be summed up in a single sentence: CFS basically models an "ideal, precise multi-tasking CPU" on real hardware.

"Ideal multi-tasking CPU" is a (non-existent :-)) CPU that has 100% physical power and which can run each task at precise equal speed, in parallel, each at 1/nr_running speed. For example: if there are 2 tasks running then it runs each at 50% physical power - totally in parallel.

CFQ to become the default I/O scheduler in 2.6.18

Judging by this commit, CFQ (Complete Fair Queuing) I/O scheduler will become the default one in the upcoming 2.6.18 kernel. For a long time, anticipatory scheduler has been the default, although even back in late 2004 there was some thinking about replacing it with CFQ. And it seems the time has finally come. CFQ scheduler has been gaining adoption since then, to the point that it's the default I/O scheduler for RHEL 4, Suse, and other distros.

One of the coolest things about CFQ is that it features I/O priorities (since 2.6.13). That means you can set the I/O priority of a process so you can avoid that a process that does too much I/O (daily updatedb) starves the rest of the system, or give extra priority to a process that shouldn't be starved by other processes, by using the ionice tool included in schedutils (since version 1.5.0).

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