Difference Between Gnome and KDE

KDE and GNOME are two desktop environments (collection of software that provides certain functionality and a look and feel for operating systems) that run on operating systems that use X Window System (mostly Unix, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X). A desktop environment is usually made up of a Window Manager (WM) which creates a certain way of presenting the windows to the user, file manager which manages all files/folders and presents them to the user in a convenient way, and some other utilities to set wallpapers, screensavers, display icons, and perform administrative tasks. Furthermore, there could be applications for word processing, disc burning, browsing and emailing tasks. Both KDE and GNOME contain many applications dedicated towards all tasks mentioned above, and they will be listed outseparately in detailbelow. Both GNOME and KDE include configuration tools so that the user is spared of many configuration headaches. All installed applications typically appear in menus automatically, and there is no need of configuration to get started. Because of all these reasons, both these desktop environments rank highly in ease of use and usability.

KDE’s main programming language is C++. The main reason for this is that the main functionality of KDE is coded using QT, which is written in C++. It takes approximately 210MBs to install the base system of KDE. Very recently the developers of KDE started calling it the KDE Software Compilation (KDE SC), but most users still call the latest version, just KDE 4. KDE’s X window manager is Kwin while its X display manager is KDM. Before the latest version, KDE used to use Konqueror as its file manager, but now it uses Dolphin. Konsole is KDE’s terminal emulator. KWrite and KOffice can be used as text editor and the office suite in KDE. KDE is licensed under GPL, LGPL, BSD and others. When it comes to browsing and emailing application, KDE offers Konqueror and KMail. KDE provides support for multimedia through its audio and video players like Dragon Player and JuK.

GNOME’s main programming language is C, because the tool kit used to write GNOME is GTK+ and it is written in C. Approximately 180 MB is required to install the base system of GNOME. GNOME uses Mutter and GDM as its X window manager and X display manager, respectively. Nautilus is GNOME’s file manager, while GNOME terminal is its terminal emulator. In GNOME, gedit and GNOME Office are the text editor and the office suite, respectively. GNOME uses GPL and LGPL licenses. Ephiphany and Evolution can be used for web browsing and emailing in GNOME. Audio and video files can be played using Totem and Banshee players.

Although KDE and GNOME are similar desktop environments, they do have their differences. After the recent rebranding,“KDE” actually refers to the whole collection of applications including the desktop environment while GNOME refers to a desktop environment alone. KDE software is based on Qt framework while GNOME is based on GTK+. KDE and GNOME have different set of default programs and packages bundled with them, for example Dolphin and Nautilus are used as file managers. Generally, users tend to believe that KDE offers more functionality compared to GNOME’s simplicity. But on the other hand, some users say that KDE is complicated and others say that GNOME lacks functionality because it is too simple. Additionally, KDE and GNOME are licensed under different set of licenses.