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.
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.