The desktop fight you've all been waiting for

The desktop fight you've all been waiting for

Summary: The eternal battle for the Linux desktop: Which GUI reigns supreme, GNOME or KDE?It really pisses me off when a writer comes up with an idea before I do.

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The eternal battle for the Linux desktop: Which GUI reigns supreme, GNOME or KDE?

It really pisses me off when a writer comes up with an idea before I do. It pisses me off even more when I know they wrote it better than I possibly could have written it as well.

As part of Linux Magazine's re-launch this month as a completely web-based publication, writer Ken Hess has come up with a humorous, but indeed informative approach on how to do product reviews -- have them fight each other in a "Smackdown", a la MTV Celebrity Deathmatch. Linux Magazine may not have a claymation budget, but that doesn't make the concept any less amusing.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

The fight of the century? GNOME vs. KDE , the two titans of the Linux desktop. Sure there are welter and lightweights that shouldn't be ignored, such as XFCE, Enlightenment and GNUStep/WindowMaker, but let's face it, it's the two heavyweights that rule the roost on all of the desktop Linux distributions that are getting the lion's share of attention, that being Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE.

I'm not going to ruin the results of the fight, so you'll have to go over to Linux Magazine and read Ken's piece yourself.  However, as an impartial fight judge, I do have some opinions on who seems to have the advantage.

I used to love KDE, and in many respects, I think that from a pure technology standpoint, it's got just about every desktop for Linux and Unix beat. KDE 3.5.x was a stable, mature desktop, and it ran great. This all changed when KDE switched from a Qt3.x to a Qt4.x-based development tree and the desktop software traded its polish, maturity and familiar look and feel for whiz-bang eye candy and the stability of a keg of nitroglycerin. Every KDE 4.x release to date that has come out of the major distros has been an absolute disaster. Linus himself after trying a recent build essentially gave up on it -- that alone should say something.

Still, I WANT KDE to succeed. I like the fact that it has a modular design and makes extensive use of object oriented technology, in many ways rivaling and exceeding what the Mac can do. As a development environment the Qt widget set is incredibly rich, and by being cross-platform it enables you to write applications in a single code base for Linux, Unix, Windows and Mac simultaneously with almost no code changes when recompiled for each target system -- it's how products like Opera are built.

But the folks at GNOME seem to be doing a much better job of maintaining their codebase and not taking too many risks with incremental releases. Whereas KDE 4.x is the Windows Vista to KDE 3.5.x's Windows XP SP3, GNOME 2.x is akin to Microsoft selling Windows XP for 7 years with Service Packs -- the thing just plain works. However, I have to say that GNOME's design is starting to look a bit worn in the tooth, especially when compared to KDE. Additionally, from a development standpoint, the GNOME envioronment and its resulting library pile needed to support a typical distribution's GNOME application stack is an absolute mess, especially when compared to the modularity of KDELibs.

For now, I'm a GNOME user. But like the first time I saw "Rocky", I hope that KDE isn't down for the count.

Who is winning the battle of the Linux desktop? GNOME or KDE? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Topics: Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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311 comments
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  • *yawn*

    Tried both, and they're both Windows/MacOS wannabes. I'd much rather get the real thing.

    If you wanna go for free and cheap stuff, they're fine, but if you're able to pay for Windows - Windows 7 will beat KDE any time.
    CobraA1
    • Whenever one of Ballmer's boys mentions cost...

      I love to bring this up.

      So yawn man, do you pay for all your Microsoft products? Or do you get your OS for free, NOT like we do?
      kozmcrae
      • I do not pirate.

        "So yawn man, do you pay for all your Microsoft products?"

        I have not pirated my OS on any of my computers, I paid for Visual Studio, and I did not pirate Microsoft Office (although I did get an educational discount).

        Okay smartass - maybe Windows came with some of my machines, and maybe I took advantage of some special offers - but I do fully intend on paying for Windows 7. I'm already budgeting for it.
        CobraA1
        • Shouldnt need to...

          unless you're in an enterprise situation, a desktop OS isn't something you should have to budget for, IMHO. It should cost less than the applications that run on top of it, if it is priced out at all.

          I think of it like this: OS is cups, machine is the soda. Since the hardware is almost universally better designed than the OS, no matter which one you're gonna use(hardware engineers actually get in trouble for their mistakes), it doesnt matter if you're drinking the soda out of a diamond chalice or a plastic ballpark beer cup.

          Since the gold standard for operating systems just happens to be a ballpark beer cup, I see no reason to pay as if I were getting the diamond chalice. Since the ballpark beer cup comes with the beer anyways...
          Archkittens
          • It's more like

            walking into a bar and ordering a Beer. The bar tender says, that will be $2.00 for the Beer, and $2.00 for the glass. If you brought your own glass it would cost only $2.00, but you get to pay $4.00 because you stupidly left your Beer glass at home.
            mjolnar@...
          • I like this analogy!

            I apologize in advance that I'm going to brazenly steal your analogy and pawn it off as my own when arguing with my friends. ;-)
            roystonlodge
        • Conflicker

          Have they ever come up with a solution to that
          Conflicker thing yet? You know the one where
          someone else runs all the Windows PCs. I know
          that I want to run my own PC, I don't want some
          bunch of crooks running it like they do on millions of
          Windows PCs.

          seems that they don't care about that but whine
          about privacy if they think Google knows something
          about them.
          bigpicture
          • Yup.

            "Have they ever come up with a solution to that Conflicker thing yet?"

            Yup. Keep the OS patched and up to date. The patch to fix the holes that Conficker uses was released months before Conficker started filling the tech news.
            CobraA1
          • Windows is not a green OS

            Can someone please figure out how much energy this virus consumes? 1milion infected PC? how many CPU cycles is that per year? How many miliwatt per cycle multiplied by 1million per hour.

            Not to speak about all the other viruses and CPU hogging virus SCANNERS.
            THATS A LOT OF ENERGY!!!!

            Now come on, make a decent article about this.


            emenau
          • Only an idiot

            would bring up the term "green OS"
            sackbut
          • Ok, how about...

            cost efficient?
            Dave32265
          • Only a Idiot

            I am always surprised by backward thinking people. Power consumption is a real issue not just for the environment but from a global strategy. The less power we consume the more independent we are as a nation. As a result our foreign policy cannot be dictated by our demand for oil and gas. Everything is conected.
            bluebuddha1973
          • That's unfair.

            Before virtually everybody switched to LCD monitors, it was possible to calculate how much electricity Google was wasting by having a white background instead of a black background. According to http://www.blackle.com/about/ the waste came to about 750 Megawatt-hours per year.

            The widespread adoption of LCD monitors has changed all that, but it's still a good reminder that software affects how hardware is run, and hardware runs on electricity.
            roystonlodge
          • Wow Thanks!

            Finally you gave me a reason to prefer Windows and appreciate a virus.

            http://www.xtimports.com/greenstupid/greenstupid.jpg
            hiraghm@...
          • Green...

            Your ignorance is truly astounding. Green thinking is really nothing new, the original Americans (you would probably call them Indians although the proper term is First Peoples) practiced it long before our supposedly civilized forefathers brought industry and pollution to this continent.
            914four
          • Green OS?

            Well if we are going to talk about green; How much energy is wasted constantly changing from one distro to the other?
            dougbeer
          • Not nearly as much as AV scanning, defragmenting registry cleaning, tweakin

            the system, frequently reinstalling, calling tech support, asking someone to help because it's broken (again this week,) paying an (up?)grade to the next version of office, etc, etc, etc.
            InAction Man
          • Well dougie

            About as much energy as popping in one live CD for another.
            hasta la Vista, bah-bie
          • One step further...

            Or, how about the wasted energy necessary to
            post some of these absolutely useless
            responses! Wasn't the topic Gnome vs. KDE?

            Silly me!
            CaryRW@...
          • Damn Idiots

            First Peoples what the hell!? Are you trying to rewrite history!?!?!?! Do some research idiot, INDIANS are not the 'First Peoples' to america, they immigrated just like everyone else did somewhere along the line.

            We need to drop the whole native american, latino america, russian american crap and just call ourselves AMERICANS. Who the hell cares where you came from your here now.
            robt@...