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KDE vs. GNOME: Is One Better?

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One of the hardest things for users of other platform to understand is that GNU/Linux does not have a single graphical display. Instead, there are dozens, ranging from basic window managers that control the look and positioning of windows in the X Window system, to complete desktop environments with a wide variety of utilities and specially designed applications.

However, for most users, the choice comes down to either GNOME or KDE, the two most polished and popular choices.

Which is right for you? In this two-part article, we'll make a close comparison of the two desktops, trying to get away from the holy wars that often obscured this topic. The goal is to discuss the differences as dispassionately as possible.

In Part 1, we'll discuss where the KDE and GNOME desktops come from. We'll also discuss the basic features that distinguish them from desktops on other platforms and their customization options.

In Part 2, we'll discuss the utilities, administration tools and desktop-specific applications of each.


In the mid-1990s, desktop options for GNUI/Linux and other UNIX-like systems were limited by lack of functionality, or by philosophical freedom – or both.

Full Story.


Although I've use both interfaces I have always preferred KDE over Gnome. KDE seems to be easier and more flexible to configure to my likings. Konqueror alone is another deciding factor. The "K" names at times are annoying however.

So many new linux users, Ubuntu for example, must assume that Gnome is superior to KDE or why else would the developers have used it. This, IMHO, will keep a large number of persons from experiencing how great KDE is.

Rich D.
Linux User 297743
Linuxified Oct 2000
I was a gopher before www.* was cool.

re: KDE vs GNOME

"This, IMHO, will keep a large number of persons from experiencing how great KDE is."

what the heck are you talking about? KDE users are estimated 65% of linux desktop users, gnome only takes up to 25% or something, KDE is well overrated, but it remains a matter of opinion, i never did like kde, but that's just ME!

More about style than about function

I have to admit that I grew familiar with KDE before GNOME became popular, so by the time I got much air time with GNOME, I already had a number of KDE habits. Coming from a prior DECWindows/Motif and CDE background on Digital UNIX workstations, at first, KDE was easier for me to get adjusted to.

Over the years, those adjustments were less necessary. It was the Novell SLED 10 implementation that really showed me a lot of what is possible with GNOME, even though the SLED implementation is spartan compared to many other implementations. It told me that GNOME could do the job very well.

Ubuntu, UbuntuCE, Fedora, and Mandriva are among the other distributions that have shown me that a GNOME desktop is a perfectly viable one, and I would not steer anyone away from using it, and I would gladly help anyone wishing for assistance in using the GNOME based applications or the desktop itself.

Given my background and interests, I am still partial to the window and desktop managers that feel, either like the original X with its spartan window managers, or like the old CDE with better functionality and appearance. Given that, I probably still use KDE the most, followed by XFCE, IceWM, and Fluxbox. I also use LXDE, Openbox, and JWM on some small, light distributions, and I won't hesitate to use GNOME when it is the featured desktop manager on the distribution that I am using or testing.

As Bruce Byfield suggests in his article, why not have both desktops around and use the best features from each of them, and experiment every now and then? That is what I do. I'll still have my own personal biases, and I suspect nearly every reader will have their own. What I like in the matter is that we all have the opportunity to choose, and all of the choices have quite a bit to offer.

Brian Masinick

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