If I just take my personal original experience, I was happy to be able to test in a virtualbox machine with a desktop that I could use the system in a correct way before really jumping my local computer to NixOS, so sadly, having a DE (KDE or Gnome) was good to feel a bit more comfortable as the logic of the distribution is really different from other distributions.
I wouldn’t be able to use another distribution again… now, but the first impression, I think must be as smooth as possible, IMHO.
That said, now I have a flake with my tricks for my configurations / home-manager configurations / packages overlay, and I don’t use the iso the same way. So I don’t use the DE iso image anymore…
So, I think it is a bit crual, we should have a good DE ISO experience for beginners even though they use it only once.
I tried to help for this ZHF, but was not necessarly able to find the correct/canonical way to fix the different problems I saw, also the hydra UX is quite hard to follow, there is so much lag between a fix and a release, so I think I wasn’t as helpful as I wish . Maybe the stabilisation process should be started sooner .
Anyway. from what I read in this discussion, I think we should find a way to split the problem into multiple teams that work all the time, not only before a release: team KDE, team GNOME, team “Apps” (for vscode/slack/…) that handle the different schedules, so that each type of situation can handle the different timelines. I don’t know how to properly handle this (maybe more staging/dev branches for specific ecosystems)
Also as a newbie maintainer, I was expecting to receive some notifications from hydra when my packages were failing, I don’t think to go checking that everything is ok there. Maybe more tooling (or just doc) I would be happy to have my own r-ryantm bot just to follow my different packages.
My experience for the server part is on the contrary very good, but I feel that this situation is way simpler as there are a lot less dependencies than on the desktop world.