I think, since Fluxbox already is a niche more geeky desktop environment a lot of people who use it will install whatever apps they like best. This has become especially apparent with all the audio players and terminal emulators listed above. But I think Mint should strive to provide a good desktop experience first and a lightweight system second. This means choosing a more demanding application over one lacking basic features or stability.
The most important thing is to provide sane defaults, that most people will be comfortable with. It's not possible to please every user with the default install. It's no big deal to install your favourite file manager, browser, audio player, terminal and office suite. Just provide a good application for each of these categories.Browser
Stick to Firefox. All other oss browsers are close to useless (dillo, elinks) or unstable (kazehakase) or not much lighter (epiphany, conqueror). A very good lightweight and fully featured browser is Opera, but alas it's not free software.
Installing two browsers is bloat. Offering a good default choice of applications to provide a usable desktop linux is Ubuntu's and Mint's goal. Don't provide more than one application for the same use. Audio Player
Perhaps it's an idea to not include a separate audio player at all. All the video players can play audio files just fine and have a playlist feature. Otherwise my vote goes to banshee, even if that means installing a lot of mono stuff.Terminal
I don't care. Just pick one using GTK. Honestly the differences are often minute. I've always used the default Terminal on all my Linux/BSD/Mac OS systems.File Management
Thunar is a very fine file manager with a lot of useful features and good integration with other xcfe tools. PCManFM doesn't offer anything over Thunar. Thunar is in much more active development and we get all the useful mint additions for free. Keep Thunar, there is no need for change.Office
While AbiWord and GnuMeric really suck monkey balls, they are more lightweight than OOO.org. I will use OOO.org in any case, but I don't mind installing it by hand.
To sum it up: Just provide one browser being either Firefox or Opera. Keep Thunar, because of integration, features and active development. I don't care wich audio player, terminal and office suite is provided by default.
- I would really like to reduce the dependency on XFCE and Gnome tools for system configuration. If you know of any other set of configuration tools please mention them. They should be under active development and preferably with a debian repository (even better if its ubuntu). Ideally it would be great to write our own configuration tools.
Writing your own configuration tools is a huge project. Since they are not used all the time I think we can stay with the xfce and gnome tools. How often do you change your settings after the installation anyway? Once a week or month? I can live with a config tool eating more RAM and CPU for the five minutes I use it. It's more important for system settings to be reliable than to be lean and mean.