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#1 2020-03-05 18:37:58

Danielsan
Member
Registered: 2017-11-22
Posts: 16

Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

Hi folks,

those are my thoughts...

I really like XFCE, is totally awesome, and is awesome that has very few devs but so talented, but unfortunately this is not enough to push XFCE toward new tops.

As for now XFCE is probably the more consistent and the more commitment DE toward end users, however this is not enough as well, I mean end users are vital but aren't effective in terms of developing. And XFCE needs developers to improve its developing pace.

One of the biggest strength of XFCE is the highly customization but the result came out with an ugly and generic default set up that no one really use. But you can see how those distributions that adopt XFCE as main DE, like Manjaro or MX, have a nice and beautiful customization and this is one of the keys of their success. However this is not enough too, because those distribution are built toward generic end users rather than devs.

Which DE has been designed (in my opinion) toward devs then? The ugliest DE (personal opinion) of the entire Linux realm, Gnome 3! I really can't stand it, however it gained tremendous traction toward devs in each salsa (Ubuntu, POP!, Fedora, Arch...), and for the same reason, since the moment I am not a devs, I find it really uncomfortable. But (incredibly) I collected a lot of opinions from devs & coders (pros and amatorials), that really find it comfortable and useful.

What achieved Gnome 3 was already available on XFCE years and years before Gnome 3 made it first apparition, but this was never advertise at all. I heard a lot of devs talking well about vanilla Gnome 3, they don't even use one extension! While this doesn't make sense for me, that should make sense to shape XFCE for a broader adoption toward developers.

I am not a coder, but I have been working in marketing and communication for a very long time, I can't help with code, but along being a patron (through Bountysource), I can share my analysis on how advertising better XFCE.

Dear XFCE devs, you always shaped XFCE toward us, but it is time for me to shape XFCE toward you. It is time to stop to underestimate the default setup. Sit around a table, talk between you, and redesign a default set up that really makes sense for a developer needs:

- desktop disabled
- workflow keyboard driven
- minimalistic environment
- workflows based on activities rather than tasks

Take inspiration from Gnome 3 without shame, as a matter of fact by default XFCE 4 has more features than Gnome 3, included: lighter and richest environment, better performance, better dual screen support, customizable windows, better tiling, and much more.

This is our description:

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.

But you should advertise as, for example, the best environment for coders with highly customization for any taste and workflow. Who care about being lightweight today? People tend to associate lightweight with lack of functionality, I suggest to push the richness of features available rather than the lightweight.

Check the Gnome definition out:

An easy and elegant way to use your computer, GNOME is designed to put you in control and get things done.

Smooth and focused on "get things done", I mean this is not a competition but learning from the others when they succeed. Indisputably if one of yours goals is to increase the devs that contributes on this amazing project you must focus on them primarily with a better communication and with a desktop ready to use for that scope without any customization.

If you do that and advertise this shift, you gain also the momentum with a spontaneous diffusion on the principal channels like podcasts, blogs, social media etc.

Please reflect on that, being lightweight was fine ten years ago when Linux was the main method to revive an old computer, but today people, especially devs, want and buy new computers and expect to find or use Linux; this is only the beginning and there is still plenty of space also for XFCE to find a new and better dimension!

Last edited by Danielsan (2020-03-05 18:43:57)

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#2 2020-03-05 20:23:23

denyer
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2018-10-20
Posts: 31
Website

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

Would hazard a guess you're in a reasonably well-off country where new hardware is accessible by most computer users.

Would agree Xfce is becoming less relevant, with other desktop environments claiming the 'lightweight' title and with things that differentiate it from Gnome, Elementary etc being removed.

GNOME is designed to put you in control

That's been an extremely questionable description of Gnome for the last decade.

http://www.christoph-wickert.de/blog/20 … f-the-day/

In the past users could just select the their favorite terminal in gnome-default-applications-properties. Some things required additional configuration: For a mail client the system needs to know the command to compose a new mail or to add attachments and for a terminal emulator an option to run something in a terminal is required. Developers could pre-configure these values with an xml file in $(prefix)/gnome-control-center/default-apps.

When I asked how to do all this in GNOME 3, Bastien (who helped to invent this nice mechanism in GNOME 2) after a little back and forth told me how things work in GNOME 3. They don’t…

"Because we’re not designing a desktop for people who like to choose their own terminal emulators."

This "We are not designing a desktop for people who …" has become a new meme. GNOME 3 is not designed for people

- who want to minimize windows
- who want to change the theme, icons or fonts
- who want to configure power management actions
- who want to use panel applets/extensions that can easily be added or removed
- who want to select their native language on the login screen instead of having to re-login after they have changed it in the control center
- who want to use their keyboard layout so they can actually log in
- who want to shutdown their computers from within a GNOME session

Those were all real examples.

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#3 2020-03-05 20:59:56

Danielsan
Member
Registered: 2017-11-22
Posts: 16

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

I would hazard the same for you...

And I didn't say to change the nature of being a lightweight DE, but just how you can advertise it toward developers. Today Linux stacks are a huge job reality and people want try and learn Linux and XFCE can be the platform were these people can land and also start to contribute to it.

And honestly those examples don't apply anymore...

Last edited by Danielsan (2020-03-05 21:25:21)

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#4 2020-03-06 22:57:03

denyer
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2018-10-20
Posts: 31
Website

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

Danielsan wrote:

I would hazard the same for you...

Yeah, the location next to the post is a fiendish clue.

A better argument for default settings in Xfce as a DE to favour developers might be that distros don't tend to use default settings and it won't matter much to the average end user -- Manjaro, Mint, Xubuntu, Kali etc customise a fair bit.

But given

- desktop disabled
- workflow keyboard driven
- minimalistic environment
- workflows based on activities rather than tasks

why would any developer choose Xfce rather than Gnome, which leads the industry with major distros and already has the momentum? And the GUI of which isn't going to bother them.

Are existing Xfce devs (who presumably like Xfce as is, mostly) going to go significantly against their own preferences?

Xfce has some popularity with more technical users, but that apparently doesn't translate into involvement as developers -- the problems might be more about governance of the project, or that those users who could contribute don't see a need for new features or change.

those examples don't apply anymore

Gnome still isn't designed to "put [the end-user] in control"; everything about its design philosophy is focused on the last part: "get things done" by controlling the user experience on behalf of the user. The user is only in control insofar as they've voluntarily given up control -- which is a metaphor more commonly applied to BDSM relationships than choice of desktop environments.

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#5 2020-03-06 23:53:19

Aravisian
Member
Registered: 2019-08-17
Posts: 406

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

Danielsan wrote:

Hi folks,

those are my thoughts...

One of the greatest thing about the internet is the ability to share your thoughts and ideas with others. Sadly, human nature remains, in spite of the advent of the Information Age: Human nature resists change and it resists learning things that contradict their own ideas.
This is a fallacy because expanding horizons and learning other viewpoints can lead to a much richer life experience.
Do Not Fear opposition to ideas; debate healthily and with vigor. Challenge ideas and challenge your own ideas.
Sharing your thoughts is a great thing. Never stop doing so.

Danielsan wrote:

But (incredibly) I collected a lot of opinions from devs & coders (pros and amatorials), that really find it comfortable and useful.

Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. It's just anecdotal. Many people tend to trend toward ideas and opinions that validate their own. More attention is paid to validation and things unwanted are easier to dismiss.
I have also spoken with and to many developers and the range is quite broad. Some love Gnome3, many detest it but have no choice to use it due to it providing the toolkits they need to use. Some don't care one way or the other.  But in my own anecdotal evidence, the opinions of most developers are far more critical.
As Denyer very adequately spelled out above, the Gnome Desktop has become more and more unfriendly and complicated to manoeuvre.
Features are consistently removed and even when they remain, hard to find (For example, undo and redo in Gedit). You have to get a manual these days to operate Gnome3.

Danielsan wrote:

Dear XFCE devs, you always shaped XFCE toward us, but it is time for me to shape XFCE toward you.

I can see teh marketing experience, here.

Danielsan wrote:

It is time to stop to underestimate the default setup. Sit around a table, talk between you, and redesign a default set up that really makes sense for a developer needs:
(snip)
Take inspiration from Gnome 3 without shame, as a matter of fact by default XFCE 4 has more features than Gnome 3, included: lighter and richest environment, better performance, better dual screen support, customizable windows, better tiling, and much more.

It is interesting, because you contradict yourself a bit, here. Your complaint is about the default set up on XFCE, yet, you ask that default be made more minimalistic. It already is; and that is its strength. The way the default is, it galvanizes the user- it adds a bit of healthy pressure, for them to Learn how to Tweak it. It the default was perfect out of the box, the user would probably not feel compelled to take some time to learn how to use it to its fuller potential.
Where it sits is between the Power user and the Light user. It's minimal without being In Your Face but Customizable, appealing to both crowds.
The only thing I can assume from your words and general Direction are that you think XFCE should be more like Gnome because you believe it would appeal to more developers. Yet, the user base of XFCE, as you state, is largely not a group of developers which really are few in number on ANY desktop environment. Many devs prefer KDE or Enlightenment or Fluxbox, too. There are no Statisitics here to reference and nothing to support the idea that Devs Prefer Gnome, at all.
And if XFCE is to become more Gnome-like, in a vaguely specified manner- Why not just use Gnome? A lightweight D.E. is generally not what Devs shoot for anyway (Though I would consider myself a successful exception).

Danielsan wrote:

Check the Gnome definition out:

An easy and elegant way to use your computer, GNOME is designed to put you in control and get things done.

Smooth and focused on "get things done", I mean this is not a competition but learning from the others when they succeed. Indisputably if one of yours goals is to increase the devs that contributes on this amazing project you must focus on them primarily with a better communication and with a desktop ready to use for that scope without any customization.

There is so much wrong with these statements, it's hard to know where to begin.
While very leading, the evidence is slight of hand.
Denyer has already confronted the concept as to whether Gnome is designed to be user-friendly in any way whatsoeever (<Cough> Gnome-Control is Gnomes Vision). Gnome has a Very Well Documented History that contradicts Anecdote.
That a D.E. should be ready to work without any customization: THAT is XFCE as it is. In fact, you complained about it. As XFCE is now, you pop the disk in, install it and you can get Right To Work. The customization pretty much only happens when independent cusses like me want to set things up Their Own Way. But if you want a Lightweight Workhorse ready right out the gate without caring about eye-candy then XFCE is top notch.

Danielsan wrote:

Please reflect on that, being lightweight was fine ten years ago when Linux was the main method to revive an old computer, but today people, especially devs, want and buy new computers and expect to find or use Linux; this is only the beginning and there is still plenty of space also for XFCE to find a new and better dimension!

I have been using XFCE on brand new computers. Yes, it can help an older machine, but many users use it on newer machines. It is not as though XFCE is only used on older machines- not even close.
You almost seem to imply here that XFCE should NOT be lightweight and should be more like Gnome. In which case: Why not use Gnome?
Why should XFCE developers drop their current targets in favor of mimicking what already exists (In fact, Why ARE they doing that NOW!)
That it could speculatively be more attractive to developers is unsubstantiated in your post. Even if what you say is actualyl accurate, then is it work turning XFCE into a heavier D.E. Gnome-Clone when Gnome already exists and the User Base of XFCE is not primarily composed of developers, in order to attract a few developers and lose many Users?
I would think not. The math on that doesn't add up in a positive way.

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#6 2020-03-09 14:40:19

Danielsan
Member
Registered: 2017-11-22
Posts: 16

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

denyer wrote:

Yeah, the location next to the post is a fiendish clue.[...]

As a matter of fact just very few distros offer a XFCE4 vanilla experience, most probably just Debian, all the other distros you mentioned heavily customize XFCE, hence what I said would have just a very minimum impact on the real distros, unless they would agreed "with my vision", hence I am speaking how about advertise XFCE4 toward new devs and new Linux adopters.

Regarding vanilla XFCE I don't think the default setting is something that XFCE4 devs use, it seems just a generic setup, but it would be awesome if XFCE4 would take time to talk about their own customization, they might also share their panel setup with 4.14.

Last edited by Danielsan (2020-03-09 14:41:07)

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#7 2020-03-09 21:32:02

Danielsan
Member
Registered: 2017-11-22
Posts: 16

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

Aravisian wrote:

Sharing your thoughts is a great thing. Never stop doing so.

Thanks sir, this is very nice of you!

Coming back to the topic, I have been using XFCE4 for the last ten years, mostly on Debian, but the panorama has changed in the last few years and there are chances to get more developers working on this amazing project if we are able to advertise it properly to them. A very basic rule is: you need a target to hit! And in my opinion we need to adjust the communication to hit curios people that want try Linux with a safe experience (no headache).

That said my point is an assumption that devs prefer a keyboard workflow. Based on this assumption we have extreme situations like tiling windows managers and softer way like Gnome Shell. KDE is widely adopted toward developers because the maximum grade of customization. By the way people aware about the Linux Desktop already made their decisions about which DE using, hence the main target should be new people interested in Linux. I think Gnome did a lot of changes to correct its initial disaster and some distribution like Fedora and POP!_os offer a very nice Gnome 3 experience, especially the latter it seems to me taking a lot of attention toward new users.

I am not saying to change anything in XFCE4 core components, I am just saying to change the communication, Distro that use already XFCE won't change anything but new spin may born because this shift. The reason to have a default setup well tailored toward a scope is because people coming from other experience may not be aware about the extremely customization of XFCE, and it might appear overwhelming for them and eventually counter productive.

XFCE must continue to be, light, fast and snappy, but offer a better experience through a well tailored default setup and enhance the communication to inspire new adopters, especially coders, it seems to me a smart way to get more contribution on this project.

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#8 2020-03-09 22:59:36

Aravisian
Member
Registered: 2019-08-17
Posts: 406

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

Danielsan wrote:

And in my opinion we need to adjust the communication to hit curios people that want try Linux with a safe experience (no headache).

By the way people aware about the Linux Desktop already made their decisions about which DE using, hence the main target should be new people interested in Linux. I think Gnome did a lot of changes to correct its initial disaster and some distribution like Fedora and POP!_os offer a very nice Gnome 3 experience, especially the latter it seems to me taking a lot of attention toward new users.

Distro that use already XFCE won't change anything but new spin may born because this shift. The reason to have a default setup well tailored toward a scope is because people coming from other experience may not be aware about the extremely customization of XFCE, and it might appear overwhelming for them and eventually counter productive.

XFCE must continue to be, light, fast and snappy, but offer a better experience through a well tailored default setup and enhance the communication to inspire new adopters, especially coders, it seems to me a smart way to get more contribution on this project.

The above is a quick highlight of your points:
The take-away is that Distros seem to have more influence than the Desktop Environment, as far as what is introduced to newer users.

I took a quick preusal of Distro-watch and then looked at many different Distro websites all promoting their wares.
Some seem to make the suggestions that you make-some don't, none take it as far as you. And this "analysis" is based on the assumption that I am understanding you correctly.
The idea is that the XFCE developers have pretty limited power as to how their D.E. is presented.

That being the case, the only way I can see that the devs can affect a change in market- is to change XFCE in some way. You seem to be thinking along those same lines and suggested a change in how XFCE is built.
It is unknown to what extent the XFCE devs follow threads on this forum. They may read and consider the content of this thread or they may be utterly unaware of its entire existence.
Building User feedback and Support/Opposition may be a good start before approaching the developers with your ideas.
But approaching the devs directly would need to be the final step if you have built support.

That said; Can you clearly list out, line by line, the changes you suggest?
-Keyboard Workflow
-....?

What changes may affect how Keyboard Workflow is percived? From my own perspective, it seems XFCE is well suited to that, already. In fact, when I check the keyboard shortcuts in XFCE, Openbox, Fluxbox, etc. that seems much more supported than in Gnome. Maybe my perceptions are off...

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#9 2020-03-10 14:39:58

Danielsan
Member
Registered: 2017-11-22
Posts: 16

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

Hi, I highlighted a bunch of paragraphs for the sake of (my) clarity.

Aravisian wrote:

The idea is that the XFCE developers have pretty limited power as to how their D.E. is presented.

I don't think so, they have a huge power to lead the direction of their project.

That being the case, the only way I can see that the devs can affect a change in market- is to change XFCE in some way. You seem to be thinking along those same lines and suggested a change in how XFCE is built.

I am not asking for any particular change but the communication and the default setup.

It is unknown to what extent the XFCE devs follow threads on this forum. They may read and consider the content of this thread or they may be utterly unaware of its entire existence.

I hope they lurk the forum, I addressed them a couple of times through a wishlist request, and I found a bit of resistance. I can understand their reaction because with very few manpower they prefer sticking on what they already planned.  I also posted my ideas here but an image is missing and I have to upload it againg: https://forum.xfce.org/viewtopic.php?id=11901

What changes may affect how Keyboard Workflow is percived? From my own perspective, it seems XFCE is well suited to that, already. In fact, when I check the keyboard shortcuts in XFCE, Openbox, Fluxbox, etc. that seems much more supported than in Gnome. Maybe my perceptions are off...

I already said that what has been achieved by Gnome 3 was already available on XFCE years before but never advertised properly. It is only a matter on how you advertise it you can say it is "a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems" or "the snappiest, features reach, desktop environment for coders, makers and creators". You can see by yourself the difference.

What is passing today that Mate is becoming the lighter alternative to Gnome 3 while XFCE is still lighter than Mate. Mate has more manpower behind and it has already got wayland support, GTK3 and fractional scaling. Having manpower does the difference.

There still are some UI/UX areas were XFCE needs to improve and are the following ones (for me): Xfce4 needs an integrated dock, probably a porting of the Mate-Dock is the more feasible option today; it needs also to add or improve the expose effect, XFDashboard seems to me the ugly carbon copy of the Gnome shell activities my solution looks better integrated; the Windowck plugin needs to work also with a multi-monitor setup. All those plugins must be included in the XFCE4-Goodies.

Once we get these done we all the hardware to express the full potential of XFCE4.

However one thing I would really like to have on XFCE4 is an innovative behavior for the windows manager that I would call "non-overlapping-mode" that it is not exactly a tiling system but windows simply don't overlap or stack between them and resize all together like magnetic field, totally awesome!!!

Last edited by Danielsan (2020-03-10 14:46:34)

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#10 2020-03-17 17:17:40

Danielsan
Member
Registered: 2017-11-22
Posts: 16

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

Is there any devs or team members here, so we can hear their opinions? Otherwise I will open a bug request as provocation.

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#11 2020-03-17 17:49:26

ToZ
Moderator
From: Canada
Registered: 2011-06-02
Posts: 6,381

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

The best way to contact the developers is via the xfce4-dev mailing list.

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#12 2020-03-17 20:01:07

Danielsan
Member
Registered: 2017-11-22
Posts: 16

Re: Improving the adoption of XFCE toward developers

ToZ wrote:

The best way to contact the developers is via the xfce4-dev mailing list.

Thanks!

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