After reading all emails and having many discussions about the default desktop topic, I've wrote up the following draft proposal (at the end of my long email) and propose to enact it.
Note, let's keep have the following important questions to keep in mind: * What is a fair treatment all involved parties that do great work? * What is the best for openSUSE? What will help openSUSE grow?
There are many decisions that a Linux distribution does for its users, e.g. packages installed by default and version of packages, and also which of these decisions can be changed by the user or where the distribution limits the user or makes it difficult for the user to decide. openSUSE's installation tries to ask the user as little as possible and uses good heuristics e.g. on how to partition a system. It also comes with an automatic configuration which sets up the system in a default way. Nevertheless a couple of questions are asked during installation - and some of these are considered difficult questions for a user.
The decision about e.g. default editor (emacs, vi, joe,...) or default filesystem are decisions that the distribution does on behalf of the user - even while most users have a preference here. Users expect from a distribution to adjust their system, e.g. change the default editor, in an easy way.
The success of a distribution depends on both how it serves the needs of its current users but also on how it addresses new Linux users.
While there is friendly competition between different desktops, the real competition is between Open Source desktop environment and closed source ones - and therefore the question of default desktop should be considered on what's best for new Linux users.
Many think that openSUSE should decide for new users on a default desktop - and on the other hand make it easy for users to choose a different one or install additional ones.
A decision on the desktop question has to look not only on which desktop is the default but also what this means for this desktop and the other desktops. The Desktop Policy gives such a framework.
Making one default the desktop will not change the way that Novell sponsors the openSUSE community project. There have been comments that making a decision for a default will help both the GNOME and KDE development teams to give users a better desktop experience. I'm inviting those to stand up to their comments and really help out - openSUSE as a community distribution will only get a desktop that is as good as the development community will make it.
0. The following text uses GNOME and KDE in alphabetical order. These rules apply to development of openSUSE only, not for any other Novell products.
1. Both GNOME and KDE are first class desktops in openSUSE: neither is technically superior to the other. openSUSE should be known as the distribution with the best GNOME desktop and the best KDE desktop!
2. We make it easy to choose between these two desktops during installation, install both of them - or install others as well.
3. On the relevant screen during installation the most popular desktop is preselected, the desktops are listed in alphabetical order.
4. This screen will explain that both GNOME and KDE are first class desktops and the default is based on popularity.
5. Let's sit together at the openSUSE conference and decide what both GNOME and KDE beeing first-class desktops signifies and how all desktop development teams can work together.