LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

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LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby Brian49 on Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:15 pm

I've been investigating the Xfce version as a possible way of sidestepping the impending hassle of moving from Gnome 2 to Gnome 3, which I find unappealing.

Imagine my disappointment on finding that the Xfce version includes in the default installation no fewer than 134 Gnome-related packages, many of them apparently essential to system functionality. As far as I can see, this version is an alternative to the Gnome version only with regard to superficial features such as window management and menus. The same underlying Gnome 2/3 issues still arise.

The other disappointment is that this version uses the 486 variant of the Linux kernel. The 686 variant can be installed, but the 486 variant can't be uninstalled. The idea would seem to be that anyone who prefers an Xfce desktop must be running a low-powered PC.

Ah well. I guess I'll have to wait and see what the KDE version has to offer.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby rhodry on Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:54 pm

There is a big difference between Gnome3, Gnome-shell and the underlying GTK3.0.

It is the move to GTK3.0 that will affect Xfce, as it is based on gtk applications just as Gnome is. The "problem" area for many folk is in fact the interface in Gnome3 ( ie Gnome-shell or Unity in Ubuntu) not the foundation libraries of GTK. I personally cannot stand Gnome-shell or Unity.

So, Xfce will always have a large crossover to Gnome in the sense they are both based on GTK. I think the Mint developers saw an opportunity to position Xfce close to Gnome in terms of functionality without having to cross into the interface problem areas. I think this is a good move, not a negative.

If you want a "pure" Xfce desktop, there are a number of options available; the best of which, IMO, is PCLinuxOS Phinx Xfce. It is a cutdown of their Phoenix Xfce version & contains ONLY a minimal Xfce install with Xfce only apps. However, even with that option, you will still end up using GTK3.

cheers,
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby zerozero on Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:50 pm

regarding the kernel question, Brian, it's not a Mint decision, it's Debian's http://womble.decadent.org.uk/blog/upco ... -i386.html
and i believe that if you install the 686-PAE(+the headers), the 486 gets unistalled (didn't tried myself)

anyway you have an amd64 v.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby Brian49 on Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:59 am

rhodry - thanks for clarifying the Gnome issues; I understand better now.

zerozero - I'm glad to hear the kernel decision wasn't made by the Mint team. I found I couldn't remove the 486 variant, even with all the 686 packages installed. I'm not too keen on 64-bit kernels; they use too many system resources, with no compensating gain in other aspects of performance, at least on my PC.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby lmintnewb on Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:06 am

Am torn by all the relatively pointless opinions running through my gnu/nix newb head this post generates. :D Am conflicted in ways. Agree that an xfce based nix release shouldn't use tons of gnome dependencies. Though guessing using some of them does make life a lil easier for people using it.

The other thing, if you can install the kernel version you want and the one you don't wouldn't be in use anymore. Not seeing how that's all that big a deal. Also am not understanding the "cannot uninstall that 486 kernel", that's just bizarre. You've actually tried removing it's header/etc in synaptic, updated grub and it doesn't let you remove it from the OS ?
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby Brian49 on Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:09 am

lmintnewb wrote:tried removing it's header/etc in synaptic

That's right. I couldn't get as far as updating grub, because Synaptic refuses to remove the 486 packages.

I prefer not to have large chunks of software sitting on my system that aren't in active use. I take frequent snapshots of my system as backups, and the smaller those snapshots are, the less storage space they occupy and the less time it takes to generate or restore them.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby asymmetros on Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:17 pm

I cannot understand why the Xfce edition comes with gedit instead of medit or geany and eog (nome) instead of ristretto (two characteristic examples).
If you add banshee, brasero, file roller, etc... -there a ton of gnome-ish apps.
Of course, my first job was to remove all that staff and replace it mainly by xfce or desktop agnostic alternatives. Fortunately, we are talking for a rolling release: no need to repeate this step every six months.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby zerozero on Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:33 pm

those decisions are based in 2 facts (both explained in the release notes of LMDE-xfce)
- the move to debian gave xfce a performance boost
Performance boost

One of the most significant improvements is the performance boost given to this edition.

Here are a few figures comparing the memory consumption in the 32-bit live sessions of Linux Mint Xfce and Linux Mint 9 Xfce:

Mint Xfce: 114 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce: 153 MB RAM)
Mint Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox: 177 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox: 212 MB RAM)
Mint Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox + Thunderbird + VLC + Rhythmbox: 220 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox + Thunderbird + Gnome MPlayer + Exaile: 256 MB RAM)

and with this (and the changes ahead in gnome - i say) Mint could make a xfce ed. more mainstream (to fill the gap that the disappearing gnome2.x will leave - dare i ask?)
This performance boost allowed us to give Xfce a more mainstream software selection, replacing Exaile with Rhythmox, adding VLC and giving Xfce almost the same software selection as Gnome.

With KDE 4 and Gnome 3 bringing drastic changes to their environments, and with the emergence of Fluxbox and LXDE on the lightweight scene, Xfce represents a nice alternative for PC desktop users who are looking for a light yet full-featured desktop solution. Its relevance is becoming more significant and this is another reason for us to support it in both 32-bit and 64-bit and to give it a mainstream software selection.

We also added mintMenu to this edition as an alternative menu. Be aware that it uses an additional 30MB RAM. You can add it easily by right-clicking on the panel and selecting “Add new Items”->”XfApplet”->”mintMenu”.

now, we may not agree (specially if we are looking for a 100% pure xfce ed. but strategically this makes sense
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby Brian49 on Wed Oct 05, 2011 5:48 pm

I wasn't particularly looking for "pure Xfce", I just wasn't expecting it to be so heavily reliant on Gnome.

It's important to note that this isn't just about the choice of applications; LMDE Xfce relies on system packages such as gnome-session and gvfs.

If the idea is to turn Xfce into more of a performance desktop, that makes it all the more unfortunate that a 486 kernel is used by default.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby rhodry on Wed Oct 05, 2011 7:04 pm

If the idea is to turn Xfce into more of a performance desktop,


I am sure that was/is the intent - personally I agree that Xfce should be positioned as the Gnome2 replacement. I think by v4.10 it will be leaving behind its "pure" performance roots ( a la fluxbox, openbox, etc). Real people doing real work on real computers can use it whilst Gnome Shell/Unity can become whatever iPad/phone abomination they like!! :)

that makes it all the more unfortunate that a 486 kernel is used by default


I have to agree with that. I was very surprised to see that choice. I don't have a single machine left that does not at least have multi-threading cpu and I have done over 100 installs of LMDE for folk I support and only 4 of them were satisfied by the 486 kernel. :?

The application choice part is just one man's thoughts vs another man's fantasies?! :) No one developer ever satisfies every user with this call. Thankfully, with the rolling release (and Clonezilla) this is a one-time uninstall/install job.

cheers,
rhodry.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby lmintnewb on Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:29 am

Am going to leave the decision making to Mint HQ, they know software, I more or less know how to use software ... occasionally anyway. :D

Still finding it odd that an OS refuses to remove a kernel if someone chooses to. Almost tempted to install it and see for myself what the deal is with it, as that really doesn't make sense. Don't have the the time to spend trying to figure out a mystery tech issue for an OS I don't have, nor have any interest in using myself. Maybe try booting the 686 kernel and do a sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade, check synaptic under custom filters>upstream upgradeable for firmware upgrades. Then try uninstalling the 486 kernel version ?

Only thing that makes sense is that the overall OS is dependent on packages or components assoc with that 486 kernel and they're in use somehow when you're trying to uninstall them. With synaptic preventing it for that reason ? Hmmmm, wonder what this button does ? .... OH CHIT ! D:

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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby Chris M on Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:27 pm

zerozero wrote:regarding the kernel question, Brian, it's not a Mint decision, it's Debian's http://womble.decadent.org.uk/blog/upco ... -i386.html
and i believe that if you install the 686-PAE(+the headers), the 486 gets unistalled (didn't tried myself)

anyway you have an amd64 v.


The Dev team had no choice but to default install the 486. I think the first testing re-spins included 686, but testers bounced it due to hardware limitations. Clem explained this in a blog and in ISO Images Progress.

For what it's worth, I think Debian screwed the pooch on the PAE call. Anyone who wants to take advantage of 4 gigs of memory should be using 64-bit Linux anyway, and this will become more true as time passes.

But I can confirm zz's comment on the ability to uninstall the 486 kernel. I just installed the new 32-bit XFCE, and was able to uninstall 486. Installing 686 did not uninstall 486 - I did it manually through synaptic.

Addition Edit: By the way, the very first thing I did was to update the kernel to 686. I updated, rebooted into 686, changed my repositories to Testing, and then did a sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade. After updating, I removed 486 without issue.
Last edited by Chris M on Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby Brian49 on Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:34 am

Chris M - thanks for the advice. Evidently I missed a trick when trying to remove the 486 kernel. Anyway, I'm now trying out the 64-bit version of LMDE Xfce. In general it's going well so far, although there's a whole lot of minor aggravations to be ironed out. It's certainly lighter on system resources than I had feared.
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Re: LMDE Xfce: two disappointing aspects

Postby Chris M on Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:38 pm

Brian49 wrote:Chris M - thanks for the advice. Evidently I missed a trick when trying to remove the 486 kernel. Anyway, I'm now trying out the 64-bit version of LMDE Xfce. In general it's going well so far, although there's a whole lot of minor aggravations to be ironed out. It's certainly lighter on system resources than I had feared.


I'm glad it's working out for you. If you've got the memory, I think it's a better way to go. And it's definitely lighter on resources that I thought also.

On my laptop, I installed the 686-PAE. I have 4 gigs of RAM, but integrated graphics. But since it's pretty light on resources, I very tempted to go 64-bit. Good luck.
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