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GNOME vs KDE: which is right for you?

Linux’s path to mainstream acceptance owes a lot to KDE and GNOME. While both have contributed enormously towards the ultimate Linux dream, they’re also heated competitors. Who will win the war? Read on and pick your side wisely…

KDEDesktop

This article originally appeared in issue 90 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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There was a time when UNIX desktops were developed by big corporations. It took not just one but many large firms to come together to build a desktop for the UNIX OS. The end result was CDE (Common Desktop Environment), developed jointly by Sun Microsystems, HP, IBM and UNIX Systems Laboratories. To its credit, it was a popular desktop environment used in almost all UNIX systems, but it was (and still is) not even close to being a decent desktop for most users. CDE was announced in June 1993. Windows was already available and CDE looked quite primitive by comparison. In 1996, the KDE project was started, followed a year later by GNOME, and the world of UNIX desktops changed for ever. It was quite surprising back then because neither KDE nor GNOME was a commercial project. Both started as open source, and both shared the same goal: to make Linux the best desktop operating system. But the philosophy was different. The KDE project wasn’t concerned with open source idealism – which is why GNOME was born, to create a desktop environment with fully GPLed software. This philosophical disagreement led to two completely different and innovative desktop environments for Linux.

Typical GNOME desktop
Typical KDE desktop

For your convenience the article has been broken down into a number of sub-sections which weighs up the various pros and cons for GNOME and KDE in various situation for both users and developers. Turn the page to get started…

Want to make sure your applications play nicely on both KDE and GNOME DE’s? Check out our quick guide here

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