updating Whonix from jessie to stretch / Migration to Gnome-Shell / port to GNOME-ish applications

Qubes - Host OS
Whonix - Guest

Gnome 3 for Qubes - ok, but for guest need fast DE.

Gnome 3 will soon become even slower, and XFCE will fast, because it is an ideology of this DE.

So why waste time and energy on Gnome 3?

@Lana Appreciate your enthusiasm :slight_smile: Unfortunately, it’s not purely a question of speed. If it was, there would be no need for discussion. There are several criteria that need to be met:

  • DE needs to provide some consistency with Qubes’ overall direction - which we can influence but can’t decide completely. I think there is some flexibility here. As long as we stay with GTK and include some common core apps, I think this criteria can be considered met.
  • (@Ego) DE should be contained in official Debian repos.
  • DE needs to be “usable”. That is open to interpretation but IMO that means DE needs to allow for people to work without investing inordinate time learning all the ins and outs. (Think: Linus Torvalds). Meaning don’t bewilder uninterested people / novices with tons of options or provide functionality that is unintuitive: “simple things like creating desktop icons are a pain.” -@HulaHoop. Less (or hidden) options also help from a security / privacy standpoint.
  • DE needs to be lightweight enough to use in non-graphics-accelerated VMs.
  • DE should be aesthetically pleasing enough to not turn off newcomers. (ie not look like it’s still in the 90’s).
  • Open question: How big of a user-base does a DE need to have to be worth considering for Whonix? Obviously, we’re committed to Debian stable. What other GTK-based DE’s are out there?

Where does this leave us presently?

  • KDE5: Qubes Core Team is vehemently, rabidly opposed to KDE5. Non-starter.
  • Gnome3: It feels heavy and laggy but not sure if that’s because it really is resource-hungry or if it just needs some tweaks to visual settings. (@HulaHoop please try signing in with Gnome Classic and see if your primate opinion changes.) The second tray panel makes no sense but I would have to guess that those could be merged with the upper-right panel. Not quite sure why there is both a top and bottom bar.
  • XFCE is light and fast. But I agree with @HulaHoop that usability suffers. Plus it just feels like dialogs, text, icons are misaligned enough to look homegrown. Like they just couldn’t find someone with artistic sense.

SMPlayer better than VLC and Totem.

Okular = Gwenview + Sumatra + LO

Calligra - a dead project
Libre Office - always a huge number of bugs
Krita - only for artists

Kubuntu (KDE 5)
x - last months
y - rank
x 12–6–3–1
y 40 49 50 65

Not so long ago Kubuntu was in the top twenty.

Ubuntu GNOME
x - last months
y - rank
x 12–6–3–1
y 52 66 59 80

66 - 16.04 LTS Release + migrated users from KDE

Good day,

May I recommend adding something to the list @entr0py? The DE should be in the official repository as well as far as I’m concerned.

Adding to that, shouldn’t we consider LXDE as well? Similar lightness to XFCE, but far more user friendly, at least from my point-of-view.

Have a nice day,


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@Ego LXDE is superseded by LXQt which is based on Qt and KDE Frameworks 5.

I don’t understand why. Can you please link to these views?

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Good day,

I think he refered to the opinions expressed here: Get rid of KDE, use Xfce as the default Dom0 WM/DE · Issue #2119 · QubesOS/qubes-issues · GitHub

Most of the things mentioned in there however don’t seem to apply to LXDE/LXQT, as both the interface and performance differ greatly.

Have a nice day,


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Qubes btw won’t care which DE will be used by Non-Qubes-Whonix. Haven’t heard that. And since no one here was too exited about GNOME, we don’t have to ever use it. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) So for Non-Qubes-Whonix I’ll be looking into configuration of gnome vs xfce.

Qubes does care about the default applications selection however. Not for Non-Qubes-Whonix, only for Qubes-Whonix, but I got to keep the maintenance overhead low so I cannot make it too different supported sets of default applications.

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Sounds good.

Are these the only choices for Non-Qubes-Whonix?

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Looks better? What about Gnome Flashback instead?

And likely available in Debian stretch. Perhaps it’s Debian -- Details of package gnome-session-flashback in stretch.

LXQT - I lost hope for this project, the development of this project, just like a snail crawling, just forget it

Patrick, I can not understand why need to use large and slow Qubes as Host OS, if we can create our own lightweight and ultrafast Host OS based on Debian Mini? Whonix-Installer.

I think interface of the Windows 10 is the best for today.

Can be anything suitable.

That is out of scope for this thread.

Good day,

Asside from the fact that that is extremly hard to do (virtualization is very hardware specific), it would be extremly hard for a project like Whonix to create a secure implementation of said virtualization like Qubes has done. Adding to that a “Whonix only OS” would require a custom desktop enviroment, to accommodate the multiple VMs based concept.

Regardless of the fact that that is very subjective and debatable, that wouldn’t be legal either due to copyright laws.

Have a nice day,


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Meta-ticket: suggest/remove default applications in official templates · Issue #1781 · QubesOS/qubes-issues · GitHub