[svlug] gnome vs. kde
Karsten M. Self
kmself at ix.netcom.com
Sun Jul 10 21:59:49 PDT 2005
on Thu, Jul 07, 2005 at 07:06:30PM -0700, Bill Hubbard (kwooda at netzero.net) wrote:
> Is it safe to ask which is better - gnome or kde - or are thems
> fightin' words?
You'd best ask yourself.
I'm in large agreement with Dan Martinez, a few additional points:
- There's nothing tying you to one system, the other, or for that
matter, either. There's a lot less hard tying of GNU/Linux
applications to any given desktop, and you can run "GNOME" apps
under pretty much any desktop environment of your choosing.
Likewise KDE. The only real hassle is that you may have to dig to
find the appropriate config tool.
- Use what works for you. Use what's apporopriate for your system (in
terms of performance, memory, CPU).
- You can even run multiple desktops simulataneously under various
mechanisms, including separate X sessions, Xnest, VNC, and other
tricks. This is more than just a parlor trick -- you can test out
problems or specific configurations this way as well.
- For myself, I prefer the WindowMaker desktop, the KDE philosophy,
and for the most part, Gtk widget sets. Unless I'm doing something
with text in which case it's terminals. My current desktop is
Windowmaker with 8 workspaces, mostly running rxvt sessions
(console, editing, mutt), Galeon, Knode (a KDE Usenet reader) and
some Xpdf sessions.
- Both KDE and GNOME attempt to provide a "total desktop environment".
This is similar to what you see on legacy MS Windows (everything's
sort of maybe kinda uniform), and has been tried many times on Unix
as well (OpenLook, NeXT, VUE, CDE, XFCE). One of the nicer current
alternatives is XFCE4, which is vastly lighter than KDE or GNOME,
and seems very appropriate for newbies (I've used it in educational
(ages 8-18) environments successfully.
All are profiled at the Window Managers for X page previously
- WRT my run-ins with GNOME devs, this is largely confined to Jeff
Waugh (release manager and GNOME board member) and the Galeon (web
browser) dev team. In both cases, I'm finding an attitude which
seems peculiarly short-circuited:
- Advanced users are not the target user group.
- Novice users are not competent to make meaningful commentary on
design and system issues.
The result is a design team which appears remarkably insulated from
user feedback. My compilation of Waugh quotes, "In his own words -
An agony in seven fits", encapsulates much of this without requiring
hours of piling through list posts...
On the Galeon side, it's the prospect of designing a newbie-friendly
web browser (allegedly) ... which only a power user would be likely
to find ... and off the base of what had previously been among the
best power-user browsers. Well put by Ben Pearre:
What makes someone decide to use Galeon? First, there's Linux.
Not a lot of lusers go out and install a fringe OS unless they
already want more control over their computers than Microsoft
permits them. Then they're likely to choose KDE, not because
it's better-maintained, less buggy and cleaner than Gnome is
(although in my experience this is true) but because KDE is the
default in many distros. Does Gnome ship as the default browser
in most KDE setups? Not bloody likely. People switching from
KDE will often do so because KDE is slow and bloated--much like
Gnome--so there's a good chance that our user decides to run
tvtwm or WindowMaker... And so on. As we all know, running
Galeon outside of Gnome has its own set of challenges...
You get the idea. The ONLY people who even know that Galeon
exists are those who invest significant time in choosing and
learning about their software. But the developers have somehow
confused Galeon with a mainstream browser, and are crippling it
to make it more palatable to a crowd who will never know it
This also gets at another general complaint regaring GNOME: it has
a strong tendency to get Foo of the Year disease. That is, it
suddenly gets a hair up its donkey and decides to go hell-bent-for-
leather for some feature, application, development, or UI
methodology. One consequence is that over time, the GNOME
environment is not particularly uniform. It's also highly prone to
aggressively promoting a particular application...then dropping it
like a rock (e.g.: Galeon, previously happened with the office
suite of AbiWord, Gnumeric, etc.). And some app dev teams
apparently decide to largely divorce themselves from full GNOME
compliance (e.g.: the GIMP). By contrast, KDE development and
goals seem to follow a far more even keel.
All that said: I generally like the look and feel of GNOME apps
(over KDE, or even GNUStep (the WindowMaker / NeXTstep environment).
Getting Foo of the Year thrown at me gets tiring as well after a
One nice thing about my current desktop (WindowMaker) is that of the
nearly three decades I've been using computers, it's the longest
time I've used a single graphical UI, and it's maintained its
consistency with very few changes in the six years I've used it.
Of course, you could make similar statements about other stable
desktops, including twm, fvwm, the *boxes (flux/open/...), and
> Perhaps it is safer to ask what the pros and cons are between the
> desktops? Maybe a link to such a comparison/debate would be quicker? ;-)
Somewhat covered both here and at project pages. Might be something
for me to write up at some point....
The list itself is pretty long:
9wm, aewm, afterstep, amaterus, amiwm, asclassic, blackbox, ctwm, cwwm,
enlightenment, evilwm, fluxbox, flwm, fvwm, icewm, ion, kwin, larswm,
lwm, matchbox, metacity, nawm, olvwm, olwm, openbox, oroborus, plwm,
pwm, qvwm, ratpoison, sapphire, sawfish, twm, uwm, vtwm, w9wm, waimea,
wininfo, wm2, wmaker, and xfwm4.
Then there's the desktop environments:
KDE, GNOME, XFCE4
...and the text-mode window manager: TWIN.
...and the window manager pickers: selectwm and wmanager.
No WM-picker-picker. Yet.
Karsten's basic WM classification:
One of the interesting things to note is the number of minimalist WMs --
window managers that reduce the chrome, details, fuss, and very often,
mouse-interaction, of the GUI interface.
Other general classes are emulation WMs, those that look like another
Outside of GNOME and KDE, popular WMs include the boxes
(black/flux/open), WindowMaker, fvwn, and the tabbed WMs (ion, pwm).
WMs designed/intended for a specific desktop.
- kwin: KDE's window manager.
- metacity: GNOME's window manager.
- uwm: Ultimate Window Manager - part of the UDE desktop
- xfwm4: XFCE4 window manager
- Emulate environment: WMs which ape the look of another environment
- 9wm: The Plan9 OS window manager
- w9wm Enhanced 9wm.
- larswm: Lars Window Manager (based on 9wm).
- wmaker: WindowMaker. Part of GNUstep environment.
- qvwm: Win95-like Window Manager.
- aewm: Minimalist WM for X.
- ctwm: Claude's Tab window manager (based on twm)
- evilwm: Minimalist WM for X.
- flwm: Fast, light window manager (based on wm2).
- lwm: Lightweight window manager. No icon, no buttons, no nothing.
- oroborus: Lightweight themeable windowmanager for X
- sapphire: Minimal but configurable X WM.
- twm: Tab window manager. Very basic 1980s WM.
- vtwm: Virtual tab window manager. Based on twm.
- wm2: Small, UNconfigurable window manager.
- Programmatically extensible:
- fvwm: The f* virtual window manager. Highly extensible.
- icewm: Extensible, themable WM. Win95, OS/2, Motif, other themes.
- sawfish: Extensible via Lisp-like language.
- "Box", tiled / tabbed extensible WMs
Thes are generally fast, light, and graphically minimalist.
The '*box' WMs are small, light, fast, stable WMs, with a very clean
graphical look. Most are based on C++. Openbox is highly
- blackbox: small, fast, C++
- fluxbox: small, fast, C++, based on blackbox
- openbox: small, fast, ground-up rewrite, extensible.
- ion: Keyboard-friendly WM with tiled windows. Obsoleted by ion2.
- ion2: Keyboard-friendly WM with tiled windows.
- pwm: Lightweight WM with frames.
- waimea: Customizable WM based on blackbox.
- ratpoison: Simple WM, fully keyboard driven. Lose your mouse.
- amaterus: a Gtk WM.
- enlightenment: High-end, bling, window manager / environment.
- nawm: Non-windowmanager. Language to extend other WMs.
- matchbox: Designed for handheld / PalmOS type devices. Small
screen, minimal widgets.
Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com> http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
You don't look so good. You don't smell so good, either.
- Princess Bride
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