The Eternal Battle: Gnome 2.26 and KDE 4


It seems this debate has been discussed over and over again, with no end in site. It often looks like the only people fighting are the Gnome guys, but its the same on both sides. I cannot tell you how many times I visit a forum and ask question, and somehow everyone starts fighting over why that person is using Gnome instead of KDE, or vice-versa. In this article, I take a look at KDE and Gnome and more specially their current releases.

The Wonder Years

I first took a look at Linux in 2004, and instantly fell in love the simplicity of Gnome over KDE 3 at the time. I loved being able to pull down Applications menu and find something really fast. Whereas in KDE, I had to hop through a few sliding menus to get what I needed. The overall presentation of KDE seemed bloated, more settings, widgets and fan-doogles that I really wanted. In all due respect to KDE users (at least for KDE 3), I personally felt that the desktop environment was trying too hard, and ended up pushing too much at me.

Back to the Future:

In the present day we see new releases (surprisingly) of Gnome, version 2.26.0, and currently KDE 4 (in beta). I said to myself after using Gnome for so long, why not be a nice guy and give the KDE folks another fair run? Using Arch Linux as my base distro I installed all the necessary packages for KDE under the Arch repository, and switched my environment from Gnome to KDE. Even with a Intel Q9550 and a Nvidia 8800 GTX graphics card, KDE 4 was slow to boot in comparison, even without Compiz Fusion running. I decided to jot down the disadvantages and advantages of KDE 4 from using it for several weeks. I also noted what I liked and disliked about Gnome.

The Eternal Battle:

Here are my personal thoughts on each Desktop Enviroment. Keep in mind these are my personal opinions and you do not have to agree with them. I did not pick a “winner” of the two, however I wished to show what I though of each of the two in the current time.



  • Lots of glitz and glamor. Depending on your window preferences, almost everything in KDE 4 is nice and shinny, fluid and smooth.
  • Interface, for many the interface of KDE is great. It resembles windows in the way the menu bar is designed, with a sleek moving menu system is once you hit the K icon.
  • Many utilities, configuration editors, and tools
  • Able to replace default window manager
  • Seems to have that “edge” that Gnome lacks
  • development is red hot on KDE 4, although in beta at the moment

  • Too much longer to load the desktop environment. Upwards of an extra 10 seconds.
  • Truncating of long file names below icons.
  • Menu editing is not as simple as in Gnome
  • I often felt overwhelmed by annoying widgets and panels that were unnecessary
  • Searching in the menu is cumbersome, its much easier to pull down one menu in gnome and see everything, instead of going through 3 to 4 menu slides to find the same in KDE
  • KDE seems to focus more on appearance than usability and stability. KDE 4 crashed several usual apps that I run all the time.
  • Panel Apps are not the best compared to Gnome.

Gnome 2.26


  • Simplistic, and laid out in a fashion to make tings easy to find
  • With Compiz Fusion, can be every bit as pretty as KDE 4
  • No overabundance of configuration editors a usual user would never use
  • Usability and simplicity over Appearance
  • Each version of Gnome focuses more on fixing bugs not making things more pretty looking, providing a better, usable desktop.
  • The simple organization of “Applications, Places, And System” makes navigating apps and places a snap, quick and easy

  • Gnome lacks focus on releasing new versions of its Desktop Environment platform.
  • You sometimes get the distinct impression gnome could accomplish more
  • There are some configuration editors like Startup Manager, that I feel should be standard on a default Gnome Install
  • Less control over the system in some areas (via graphical tools), but this can be a good thing.

Final Thoughts:

In the end the choice is up to you. Do you prefer a pretty, fairly easy to use environment, or a simple, very easy environment? It is all up to the user. Most apps that run in KDE and run in Gnome and vice-versa. Where the differences come is in how the two Desktop Environments present those apps and tools to the user, and how it handles the Linux kernel. For the most part you can’t beat the speed of Gnome, while KDE 4 is shaping up to be a formidable opponent, compared to its past offerings with KDE 1, 2 (3 was about the same from 2, minor changes).

Whatever you choose, do not let fanboys and harsh advocates of either Desktop Environment bully you around. That is the joy of Linux, CHOICE. It is your choice to use what distribution you like, which applications you want to use, and how you want to use them and your system. I would like to thank you for reading this article and for visiting The Linux Cauldon.




About professorkaos64

Posted on 20090418, in Articles, Desktop Environments and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Just what hardware are you using? From what i’ve heard KDE 4 should take that much more than KDE 3 for minimum-requirements. Possibly KDE’s desktop effects and Compiz were enabled at the same time? if it’s possible try a clean install of KDE those numbers seem too dramatic.

    Also KDE 4 has the ability to switch to the classic-menu by right clicking it that makes it alot easier to get to your applications.

  2. Ooop, otherwise good article your + and – i think are dead on.

  3. LinuxLover

    It boils down to this: Do you like lots of control and a pretty desktop? Then KDE it is. Do you like just the necessary controls and a desktop that’s not all the flattering, but can be made to be that way with a little work? Then Gnome is for you. Choice is good…

  4. As you suggest it is a shame so many people fixate on the differences when we should be celebrating the freedom we have to choose. And the choice is more than just these two although they are definitely the most popular choices.

    I do have my preference but I won’t say which as that is my choice (actually I use two Window Managers, one of the popular ones and one of the lighter weight ones on an old machine).

  5. comawhitex

    What turned me away from Gnome is that the development for them is fixed on barebones. the documentation is pitiful. I basically have to spend more time implementing and reinventing the wheel. While Qt and KDE have pretty much everything you need and great community for development.

    Gnome they don’t believe in the word innovation. They are too careful. Sure KDE4 might have gotten carried away when coming from KDE3 but they have really done a excellent job at the development process. I admit both sides have their good qualities and their bad qualities. Just like Windows vs Linux vs Mac. Everything offers something more different than the other. One is careful the other is insane “thinking of the pinky and brain cartoon” xD.

    But I just got tired of Gnome looking constantly the same. I did use Gnome until KDE4 was released. Boy I hated KDE3

    • shadowkain99

      Thanks for your thoughts man, yea KDE 2/3 was pretty blah, and I agree things are moving pretty forward and fast with KDE4, and agree about your points with gnome, but for people who prefer bug fixes to appearences, and simplicity over glitz, gnome does have its place in many hearts.


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