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I'm choosing a new distro, and I'm trying to avoid Gnome 3 (and Unity). Debian is using Gnome 2.3, but I'm not sure for how long -- I don't want to install it and be forced to update to Gnome 3 in a couple months. How long does Debian plan to support Gnome 2?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you install the stable version of Debian, you can stay (virtually) forever with Gnome 2.3, you are in no way forced to switch to a new Debian version, and no upgrade to Gnome 3 will be done in a normal dist-upgrade.

Let me say that also with Ubuntu you are in no way forced to update your system every six month, if you feel the system you have gives you what you need.

Lastly, let me say that the planned future of Gnome is Gnome Shell, so all distributions should face this design decision. For some time a Fallback session will be supported, but this could not be forever.

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Just keep in mind that while you can stick with a certain version and never upgrade, eventually upstream will drop support for old software which includes security updates. Thus, if you want a sustainable solution I'd go with something that is likely to be maintained in the future like Xfce. – jw013 Oct 21 '11 at 20:21
I have tried XFCE but Thunar is sooo bad compared to Nautilus :( It looks (and acts) like half-product :\ – BoPe Oct 21 '11 at 20:29
@BoPe: What's wrong with it? Is it the missing features? Which features? – Tshepang Oct 21 '11 at 20:34
Well, for start - if i select all files and folders from home and try to see how much space they take - it's no, no, "properties" right-click-menu item is disabled! That's simply un-tolerable! :) – BoPe Oct 21 '11 at 21:06
Debian Wheezy (now the stable release) is on Gnome 3 – Raekye May 31 '13 at 3:11

There has been a fork of GNOME 2 called Mate. For the moment, it's only packaged for ArchLinux. Maybe if it's ported to Debian...

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Short answer: Debian will likely drop support for Gnome 2 within about 2 years (aka Feb 2015).

I arrive at this number as follows: Debian has three releases of interest here: old stable, stable, and testing. These are currently Lenny, Squeeze, and Wheezy. Debian has historically supported old stable for 1 year after a new stable release is made. While Debian religiously sticks to a "it is ready when it is ready" release policy, this has historically resulted in a new stable release every 2-3 years. It seems reasoanble to assume that the 2-3 year cycle will continue since Wheezy has been frozen for 6 months and Squeeze has been stable for 2 years. This means that Squeeze will likely no longer be supported within in 2 years. Since Wheezy uses Gnome 3, this means when support for Squeeze is dropped, support for Gnome 2 will be dropped.

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You can use Mate on most recent Debians. Follow instructions here for Wheezy/Sid (basically, add a repo and then install Mate from there).

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It is not debian that supports Gnome2. Upstream version is maintained by debian. When Gnome2 is not supported by upstream, it means its no longer available on debian. Looks like Gnome developers has chosen to support Gnome3 ditching Gnome2.

Considering the popularity of Gnome2 and reluctance to switch to completely remodeled Gnome3, Mate desktop environment came out. Since debian jessie, mate is officially included in repos. Mate is also available in wheezy-backports.

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