Playing with Debian Xfce Testing

I’ve been playing with Debian Testing in a virtual box, using Xfce.

It’s hard to talk responsiveness since that always feels a bit relative in virtual machines.

But it’s interesting using it and then comparing it with Xubuntu.

It’s definitely not as nice looking. The fonts are a tiny bit blurry and the icons look a bit flat. I’ve tried playing with the font settings, but I haven’t been able to get things to smooth out.

I’m surprised by some of the software choices, too. OpenOffice.org is the default office software suite, which seems like overkill for Xfce. Gimp also doesn’t ship with the Debian Xfce package. I realize the trend is away from using Gimp as a default anywhere, though, so I understand that choice.

Give Debian’s complicated history with Firefox, I’m surprised IceWeasel is still the default browser. I also can’t recall seeing Midori as a browser option. But Chromium definitely wasn’t a default.

Xfce Debian also doesn’t have a software updater. I was going to download one, but I’m holding off to see if it’s necessary. Once I installed sudo, it’s no big deal to update and then upgrade once a day (I’m embarrassed to publicly admit I don’t know how to do anything without sudo). If things go well with that, I might even remove the updater from my Xubuntu machine.

Xfce Debian also doesn’t include the Synaptic package manager. I install 90% of my software via the command line but Synaptic is helpful when I’m trying to figure out the right package name. For instance, before I installed the Chromium web browser (chromium-browser), I first accidentally installed a game called Chromium (chromium). But again, I’m seeing how things go before I actually take the plunge to install Synaptic.

I’m very curious about stability. A lot of people have talked about the stability of Testing and how it’s a perfectly viable OS. But Testing has been stable as Debian moved toward a stable release. Now, working on a new release that’s further away, I’m wondering if there will be any breakage issues.

So far, after less than a week of use, I can report no stability issues, though, except for a weird HAL power management daemon message that accompanies start-up. It’s innocuous, though.

I don’t get all of the Debian Xfce default choices, but in general, it’s a nice distribution. I’m going to keep an eye on stability but even if there aren’t any major breakage issues, I’m not sure I would switch away from Xubuntu. Xubuntu is bloated, but some of that bloat is what makes it look so nice.

However, playing with Debian Xfce has given me some ideas on bloat I might cut in Xubuntu. Do I really need the software sources manager, Synaptic, and the update manager? I might cut one or all of these for a while and see how things go.

Or, since performance isn’t an issue and they’re occasionally convenient, I might just let them stay.

Either way, playing with a new distro is always refreshing because it gives you ideas on how to re-imagine your current one.