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.
So, thumbs up Joey, you made the right decision! When people finally install Debian 7.0 Wheezy, the default desktop will be fast and pleasing, which could only increase Xfce popularity and visibility. While Xfce already has a very robust development team, a few additional helping hands recruited from satisfied users won’t hurt, of course. GNOME on the other hand, seems to be staring into the abyss.