In a surprising development, the Ubuntu Studio developers have decided to switch over from GNOME to Xfce. Ubuntu Studio is an official Ubuntu derivative which is developed mainly for multimedia works. Unlike Ubuntu, it comes installed with a number of applications for video, audio and image editing etc.
In an email to the Ubuntu Studio mailing list, Ubuntu Studio developer Cory K announced that from the next release – that is Ubuntu Studio 11.10 – they will not be using GNOME. Instead of GNOME, they have decided that they will use the light weight Xfce desktop environment. Unity and the GNOME Shell are cited as the result for leaving GNOME. The developers feel that neither Unity nor GNOME Shell is a good choice for their target users.
After various discussions, investigation and tinkering the Ubuntu Studio team have decided to re-base the project on XFCE. The team simple feel that Unity and GNOME-Shell do not fit our target audience or intended workflow.
From the next release, we will see Ubuntu Studio with Xfce with a custom user interface. The new user interface will be based on Avant Windows Manager while keeping Xfce as the base.
The biggest challenge for the Ubuntu Studio developers could be providing a smooth upgrade path for the Ubuntu Studio users when the next release come. Because of the change in the desktop environment, creating a smooth upgrade path from Ubuntu Studio 11.04 to Ubuntu Studio 11.10 is going to be challenging for the developers. Cory K addressed this issue and said that they will ensure a smooth upgrade.
Personally, I feel that the Ubuntu Studio deleopers made the right call. While Unity could be a great idea for normal users, for the target users of Ubuntu Studio, it seems a bit too gimmicky. Besides, the workflow change in Unity and GNOME Shell could be a little challenging to get used to.
source: Ubuntu Studio Mailing list