Well, it’s an eternal debate. For Linux there are two desktops that I consider full-featured. Yes, there are others, but I don’t consider them contenders at this time. Both KDE and GNOME are mature enough to go head to head against the MacOS or Windows. They both have plenty of good applications available, nice graphical displays, and come with all the major linux distributions. But there are zealots on both sides that consider their choice the only good choice. It’s very similar to Macintosh users.
I have always been a staunch GNOME fan. I love GNOME and Ximian. A month ago when I transitioned to SuSE on all my computers, I decided to really try out KDE. Visually, I’ve always had issues with KDE because it seems like their icons looked pixelated (a la GNOME 1). But this time, I decided to use KDE for everything for a few weeks. I was pleasantly surprised.
KDE is a very nice desktop. Everaldo‘s Crystal SVG theme is superb and apparently SuSE hired him to do all their icons. They are beautiful. I found the KDE controls to be very easy to use. Fonts were anti-aliased. There were literally a plethora of good applications available. The KDE has very good sound support, I think. And there were some nice drive mounting features. I’m back on GNOME now.
I found that as far as application types, I was hard-pressed to come up with any program category that GNOME had and KDE didn’t, and vice versa. My biggest problem with KDE was what I would consider the biggest philosophical divide between the two desktops. More and more, GNOME is making usability a major push. Applications are fairly simple. There are options, but so many that an average user would lose their mind. KDE on the other hand seems to go the route of ultimate configurability. It looked to me like their was an option for everything. Even the right click menu gave me three options for extracting files from an archive from two different programs. To me that is a level of complexity that I do not want to deal with. I do complex things on every computer I use, and I don’t need the interface to cause more complexity.
On the other hand I am much more open to programs from both. People that are only willing to use KDE programs or only GNOME programs are missing out. By selecting one desktop, you are only defining which ‘shell’ to use. You can still run programs from either desktop within it. Hopefully, we’ll see more and more collaboration between the two. Freedesktop.org‘s purpose is this- to make them more interoperable. Already, great things have been accomplished. Hopefully, we’ll see the two not merge, since they appeal to different people, but co-exist happily.