Debian is the great granddaddy of Linux distributions and it remains a popular choice among Linux users. But there has been some recent controversy over whether or not the upcoming Debian Jessie should stick with GNOME as its default desktop versus moving to Xfce. This has caused some sharp debate in the Debian community as you might imagine, and the Oskuro blog has made a passionate argument in favor of GNOME.
According to Oskuro:
In short, we think defaulting to GNOME is the best option for the Debian release, and in contrast, shipping Xfce as the default desktop could mean delivering a desktop experience that has some incomplete or rough edges, and not on par with Debian quality standards for a stable release. We believe tasksel should again revert the change and be uploaded as soon as possible, in order to get people testing images with GNOME the sooner the better, with the freeze only two months away.
Some of our reasons are:
AdministrationMore at Oskuro Hat tip: Reddit
Edit 1: The Click blog agrees that GNOME should be the default, but still loves Xfce.Edit 2: The debate rages on Google+.
My own preference leans strongly toward Xfce rather than GNOME. It works very well, particularly for older computers. However, the article contains a long list of reasons (too long for me to include here so do click through to read through it) why GNOME should remain the default Debian desktop. I think it's a compelling argument though it remains to be seen if it will carry the day in Debian Jesse when it's finally released.
It's been quite a while since I last did a fresh install of Debian, but you can apparently choose the desktop you want to use during the install process. You need to go to the "Advanced Options" on the boot menu, then scroll down to "Alternative Desktop Environments." KDE, Xfce, and e17 are among the choices available in Debian.
It may be that this Xfce versus GNOME controversy is simply a tempest in a teapot. I doubt many users really care what the default desktop environment is in Debian since most Debian users probably know how to pick a different one that suits their needs.