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What's so wrong about just plain Gnome really? Ok perhaps Gnome+Thunar could rock better, possibly... But what does XFCE have to with it all? I do not see Gnome and Xfce as the same thing at all. Don't get me wrong, I do love XFCE and that's what I use on my EeePC cuz it's lightweight and all. But that's the whole point! It's lightweight! That's why we need it as it is. If you replace it with Gnome then what's left of XFCE?? How can it become #1 If it's gone already? I don't get it.
IMHO, we do need both as different entities. Gnome on the powerful desktop (with Thunar, if you wish), and XFCE on lower specs devices.
Or, as I have done in the past, use Xfce as a direct replacement for GNOME on a fast system. My reason is thus: Modern GNOME on an old or slow system is nearly unbearable. Xfce on such a system is useable and therefore popular. On new, fast hardware, GNOME is decent and should remain the default DE. Xfce on that new hardware is absolutely blazingly fast and should be an option at install. This means increased productivity and less fatigue should the user choose to go with it, while maintaining support for GNOME and KDE apps.
I, too, think Xfce is just fine where it is, there's no need for GNOME to go away at all. I would prefer Xfce to stay third place and keep its lightweight but powerful soul, while benefitting from the wonderful apps that make up the GNOME environment.