Default (pre-installed) template flavor - considering change from gnome to xfce

Currently the fedora-38 template is in practice the gnome one. Specifically, the installed applications are those for gnome variant of Fedora. That kinda makes sense, since GNOME is the default desktop environment in Fedora Workstation. But unfortunately some gnome applications do not fit well in qubes, example related issues:

So, we consider switching to the xfce spin. Does anybody have an opinion?

What should be the default Fedora (and possibly Debian) template flavor?

  • GNOME (the current one)
  • XFCE (templates fedora-38-xfce, debian-12-xfce etc)

0 voters

To be clear, the question is only about what template should be included on the installation image. Both flavors will remain installable via qvm-template, so if anybody prefer the other one, it will remain possible to install it.


I vote for the default that makes the less friction for end users :+1: it seems to be GNOME.


I also prefer using GNOME, but I don’t really care which is the default.

Both the Tracker and memory usage issues are strong cases to make xfce the default.

Hey! What about KDE ?:confused:

Some of the gnome applications in the 38 template use significantly more cpu than their xfce equivalents. For example the gnome text editor seems to be really cpu hungry. This can make for quite an unenjoyable default experience on older+slower machines.


No KDE flavor exists for now.

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But there’s an option to install KDE, doesn’t it makes it a flavor? Or does KDE flavor means integrating all the software of the KDE to Qubes?

You are misunderstanding the dom0 desktop environment versus the default package set inside Fedora template.


Thanks for all the votes. It seems Xfce flavor is preferred solution, so I’ll try to squeeze that into R4.2-rc2. As said previously, the other template is still going to be maintained and installable via qvm-template (or its GUI equivalent).


I didn’t realize at the time the profound UX implications this had. I think we this may bring a major UX regression:

Before (non-xfce) – Naultilus File Manager Now (XFCE) Thunar File Manager

At the very least naultilus should be installed and set as the default. Maybe that brings too many dependencies, but it’s such a night and day difference… (and users are now used to nautilus).

Looks like I’ll need to re-record some tutorials :sob:

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What’s the difference? Tbh I don’t see any drastic change looking at these screenshots.


Look at the file manager. XFCE’s looks like it’s from the 2000s, whereas Gnome’s is clean.


Yes, from this point of view the xfce looks quite old. Personally I don’t care about looks and it works just fine for me but maybe it could be unpleasant for others.

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With the reasons given for the change, it doesn’t make much sense to add nautilus to XFCE, you are reintroducing the issues that the change should fix.

I don’t disagree with XFCE being a much less aesthetically pleasing, and I would never use it myself, but I can live with having to install the GNOME template manually.

I guess enough people are using xx30 ThinkPads that this is a sacrifice worth making, GNOME isn’t designed with 10 years old laptops in mind.


Yep. I’ll probably do the same if it’s the default. But my concern here is the impact on novice users. They don’t (yet) have the skills to switch templates when installing. This means that they’ll be stuck with whatever they have.

And because file managers are used all the time their overall impression of Qubes may degrade as a result. Even though having a more pleasing / friendly version would be available (if one knows how to get it).



Weren’t there supposed to be QubesOS tutorials integrated soon? Could be part of that: an integrated interactive tutorial on how to install a template, which could also state that GNOME flavors are available this way.

Personally I think this is quite taste-dependent as well…I first stared for two minutes at the screenshots you posted to figure out what was missing in Thunar, as to me it seemed perfectly fine; but then I don’t use file managers much.


I’m noticing that this is not such a big difference for most people. So I’m starting to feel like it’s won’t have that big of an impact in the end as I imagined. I guess I blew it out of proportion.

I ended up abandoning that idea because I felt it was too hard to maintain and didn’t scale well. But I’m working on some video tutorials instead.

I shared some updates on all of this at the Qubes Summit year’s summit (5h15mins into the video:


Regarding the changes described in the original post, does (or will) this change affect Debian minimal templates? I’m not sure if minimal templates have any inherent association with GNOME versus Xfce or whether they’re so minimal that they just have neither. Even so, perhaps this means that Xfce will be better supported than GNOME going forward, which might give minimal template users a reason to favor Xfce when installing programs.

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Xfce programs leave smaller storage footprint, so as a minimal template user, I have already been living with xfce programs ( thunar instead of nautilus, etc.).