KDE vs Gnome
lee_b at digitalunleashed.com
Thu Jul 21 09:19:37 UTC 2005
On Thursday 21 July 2005 02:17, Bernie Betlach wrote:
> !) What is the bottom line difference between Gnome and KDE?
Let me start by saying that I prefer the Free Software philosophy of GNOME,
and I wish I *could* get serious work done with it. I also love the steps it
took regarding international text support and accessibility.
With that said...
For me, the main difference is that KDE is much more thought out, and it shows
in daily use.
It's based on C++, which gives easy object-orientation of code (ie, it's
easier for programmers to do cool stuff that inspires them), and so they tend
to do exactly that. Also, and similarly, the Object-Orientation along with
what seems to be a stricter and more demanding centralised development
process means that more code is shared between applications, and the
applications try harder to work together. Even though the older, C-based
approach also allows object-orientation (in a nasty and unobvious way) I
think that GNOME choosing that approach has crippled their development
somewhat, and led to them falling ever-further behind, while KDE continues to
show more innovation.
Secondly, the GNOME folks took a major change of direction at GNOME 2.x, which
meant that they dropped a lot of good features that weren't considered
intuitive for new users. I think this was a design mistake: instead of
DROPPING those features, they should have had beginner/intermediate/advanced
modes in their applications, to allow users to tune things to their needs.
To some extent, they made a few features available through hidden options,
but that seems like more of a cop-out (perhaps due to too few developers)
rather than a serious preference.
For a basic comparison, in GNOME, you get essentially separate applications:
you have a desktop and panels, and panel applications. The panel can run
programs. A few of these panel applications integrate with major, well-known
GNOME apps like Evolution.
By contrast, in KDE, you have a tight integration of many things. Kontact,
the evolution/outlook equivalent which provides mail, news, addresses,
calendaring, news aggregation etc. is not even a separate application: it
simply loads the normal KMail mail program, KOrganizer calendar application,
etc. into one seemless, larger application. Then, you can drag emails from
your mail component to the calendar component to create appointments based on
that email, etc. This is just a hint of the underlying power in KDE.
Another is that everything is scriptable from the command line. And I really
think this is where a Unix-based OS should be going. Unix has been powerful
on the command line for years, because it gives you lots of powerful little
command-line tools, for parsing text and processing the results etc. But
these days, with GUIs, that's getting old: GUI applications on Windows and
GNOME are not connected the way command line tools are. Instead, they're
often just single applications that you use, or don't use.
KDE is different. Virtually every application provides a DCOP interface: you
can access many of their features from shell scripts. For example, if you
want to change the currently playing song in Amarok, you can do that with a
single command from the shell. Likewise, if you need a way to find out the
name of the song, you can do that just as easily. If you need to figure out
which music player is playing, and get the name of the song from whichever
one is, that's not difficult either.
As another example, I discovered a while ago that KDE can display random
wallpaper from a folder full of pictures, by just selecting a folder as the
picture, instead of a single file. But then I decided that I wanted panel
buttons to "fast forward" to the next wallpaper, or to delete the current
wallpaper and move on to a new one. Adding these entirely new features, and
making them look like an integral part of my desktop, was a matter of a
ten-line shell script, and choosing panel icons for its two modes.
It's not a new idea; Amigas had it back in '92. But in comparison to other
platforms which haven't done it, KDE is a godsend.
Next, there is sheer speed. I guess it's another result of that tight
integration and good design principles: Konqueror is by far the fastest
browser I've ever used, and that shows in how much I *do* use it. With
konqueror, I can instantly do web searches, by just clicking the konqueror
icon, and typing gg:whatever for a google search, dict:whatever for a
dictionary lookup, froo:whatever for a froogle search, etc. It's incredibly
easy to add your own, and so I also have web shortcuts like these for all of
my favorite sites. In short, I rarely "browse" except for fun: KDE gives me
what I need instantaneously.
And that is painfully telling, when I try to give GNOME etc. a chance — and I
*do* do that, from time to time! When using GNOME, I find myself giving up
on things I want to do: I want to look up some word in a dictionary, but the
browser hasn't even loaded yet. By the time it does, I've forgotten what I
was interested in, or and simply no longer interested. This is where the
difference in usability really lies for me.
I haven't even got onto the big KDE apps like KDevelop3, which really puts
Anjuta (and even the unreleased Anjuta2) to shame. Also, there are KDE 3.5
and KDE 4 to look forward to, with many more new innovations and
enhancements: possibly including one or two I suggested myself, as a plain
old KDE user.
Actually, I keep finding myself suprised that Ubuntu chose GNOME over KDE,
when they're focused on a usable distro. I can only put that down to them
not knowing KDE very well. Thankfully, some people *did* know better, and
I'm a happy Kubuntu user now :)
> 2) Can't I install both and switch back and forth?
Yes, you can.
> 3). Is it just personal preference as to which GUI you like?
Nope. Usability, applications, etc.
> 4). Can apps that run on Gnome also run on KDE and vs versa?
They "run on" what they're built to run on: KDE or GNOME (or GNUStep or
Windowmaker, etc.) But they'll run fine together, yes.
> 5). Is the desktop the only difference between Ubuntu and Kubuntu?
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