29 Mar 2011


I published a post recently when I told how many and which systems are installed on my laptop.
If you remember (or have read it just now), my preferred system is Kubuntu. Because of KDE.

Why KDE? I don't know... I sat down once and decided to put all the pros and contras of KDE and GNOME in one list. Result was quite strange... Kubuntu had same number of  "pros" and "contras" on KDE side. While GNOME only gave me "pros" and no significant "contra". So, there is something irrational which makes me to choos KDE when I boot my laptop.

What are the actual Pros and Contras I found?


You can see my Kubuntu desktop on the screenshot.

+ Widgets instead of Conky

I found them very useful. They are not so advanced as Conky options. But they fulfil my requirements to see processor, memory and network usage in dynamic. And they are much easier to configure than Conky. Yes, there are lots of ready-to-use Conky styles available for download in the Internet. But if I need to change something minor in pre-cooked configuration, it is much easier to do in Kubuntu's (Plasma) widgets.

+ 2 lines for quick launch panel and applications on the panel

I have quite wide task bar panel at the bottom, as you can see. This allows me to pack my quick launch buttons into two lines. This saves space on the panel for task buttons. They, in turn, also can line themselves into two lines when required. It means I can clearly see name of each application on the taskbar. GNOME has different approach. I could not manage to create two lines of quick launch icons. Taking into account that GNOME in Ubuntu and Debian by default has three items (Applications, Places and System), it leaves almost zero space on that panel for taskbar. I had to use additional panel for it. As a result, two panels in GNOME take more space than one panel in KDE. Yes, I know that I can put panels to the side, and new Unity desktop has it by default. But I am too old-school. I want to see my panels at the bottom.

- Glitchy Copy function in Dolphin

Whenever I need to copy files using Dolphin, I get a problem. In very rare cases it is finished successfully. As workaround, I make my important copying in Midnight Commander.

- Chrome function "Create Desktop Shortcut" is not working properly

I like Google Chrome browser. From the version 1 till version 10 which I use now to write this post on Blogger. Chrome has brilliant function to create "Application shortcut". It effectively creates shortcut for web page which is to be launched without navigation bar and tabs. Just normal window with web page working as application. Very useful for GMail account, for example. Unfortunately, when creating application shortcut for desktop in KDE, it does not appear on desktop, as you would expect. This is because Desktop as folder has little to do with KDE's Plasma desktop. Shortcut indeed goes into ~/Desktop folder. And you can even create a launcher on Plasma using this shortcut. But it gets no icon from the application page, and process itself is something annoying. It should not work like this, you know. I found a workaround though... Chrome can place shortcuts on desktop and... into the menu. And then right-click on the menu item allows you to put shortcut to Desktop. Yes, this time it is Plasma Desktop, not just ~/Desktop. Job's done, and you can now remove menu item. Works like magic, but still additional unnecessary movements are required.


Again, my Ubuntu desktop is on the right. You can see, it is less sophisticated than my KDE desktop.

+ GNOME Baker

The best Free and Open Source disk burner software I found so far. Since my first acquittance with KDE in SLAX I found that KDE's default K3B is a glitchy stuff. I tried K3B in different Linuxes, but result is still the same. Then I tried Brasero, which is default burner in Ubuntu's GNOME. Result is slightly better, but still far from ideal. The balance between burning quality and free software was found in the GNOME Baker. Unfortunately, it depends on big chunk of GNOME, so I cannot install it in my Kubuntu. One more reason for me to keep Ubuntu on my HDD. As I said, Baker is a compromise for me. What is actually best result? It is Ahead Nero. It is one of applications I keep my WinXP for. Nero can fail to burn my CDs too, but it happens in very rare occasions. Unfortunately, Nero is neither open source, nor free software. And it costs a lot...

Panels are desktop-dependent

You can have different set of applications on each desktop in GNOME. Thus, you can have dedicated desktop for work (office applications), web (browser, Skype, IM), games. You don't need to find Skype button on taskbar somewhere between LibreOffice Writer and Chrome. For me, that is more convenient.

- Nothing

I could not think of any "contras" in GNOME, which were not previously mentioned as "pros" in KDE.

And which desktop manager do you prefer? Why?
How many systems do you have installed?


  1. Great post. Since KDE 4.6, there are 4 areas that KDE beats GNOME.

    1. Kwin is must better integrated with KDE than Compiz is with GNOME, and it offers a couple of features that GNOME doesn't. For instance, you can configure 4-different virtual desktops, each with their own activities and wallpapers (and icons visible). In contrast, if you enable the Wallpaper plugin in Compiz, you lose your desktop icons!

    2. Kwin offers tiled window management, GNOME doesn't.

    3. KDE 4.6 no longer uses HAL, which speeds things up. GNOME still uses HAL.

    4. KDE activities. The desktop search function is awesome and comes built in with KDE. In GNOME, you would have to install Gnome-do or Synapse to get similar functionality.

    As a final note, I would give an additional point to KDE as 4.6 is now a solid, mature version. KDE has worked out its kinks since 4.0. GNOME, on the other hand, is about to jump off a cliff with 3.0.

  2. I got into Linux with Fedora/Gnome, so they'll always be special to me. But over the past few years, no matter what I try out, I keep coming back to KDE 4.x. I like the feel of the desktop and widgets much better than Gnome. To be fair, I still use Rhythmbox over Amarok/Clementine and Pidgin over Kopete. I can see why Gnome will work better for others, but i'm all KDE anymore. But, the choices of UIs for different productivity/style/resource consumption needs is part of why I love Linux. I generally test the new Ubuntu,Fedora, OpenSUSE, and sometimes Chakra releases. And I try my best to like PCLinuxOS more. But as of now i've got one OS installed on my box and its Arch Linux x86_64 with KDE 4.6.1

  3. @Bordee:

    "1. Kwin is must better integrated with KDE than Compiz is with GNOME"
    WTF? Wrong.

    "2. Kwin offers tiled window management, GNOME doesn't."
    GNOME 3 does.

    "3. KDE 4.6 no longer uses HAL, which speeds things up. GNOME still uses HAL."

    "In GNOME, you would have to install Gnome-do or Synapse to get similar functionality."
    Wrong. GNOME's got Tracker.

  4. Be careful judging KDE through Kubuntu behaviour because Kubuntu is very buggy.

    For me, I do prefer Debian plus KDE4 configuration.

  5. @Dustin Castler
    I like KDE, but there are still things which better work with GNOME. Most important for me is Baker, as I mentioned.

  6. @ Anonymous
    Is GNOME 3 already released?

  7. @lefty.crupps
    Kubuntu... it's historical. You can read my post dated October 2010 where I describe how African Humanity (*buntus) got their way to my HDD.
    Still no plan to replace it. Too lazy maybe ;-)

  8. @Debianero
    I only got Debian exposure with their GNOME version. Kinda prefer it to Ubuntu. Maybe a day'll come and I'll replace Kubuntu with Debian KDE. But not now.:-)

  9. @Dmitry: The official release of GNOME 3 will be on April 6th.

    Meanwhile you can download a preview/RC Live-CD from www.gnome3.org; it's based on openSUSE. The first distribution to ship GNOME 3 as its default desktop environment will be Fedora 15, sometime in May.

  10. @Anonymous
    Do you think it is fair to compare unreleased version with stable?

  11. There is Nero Linux 4, which the newest is from 2010, so it's not that out of date. Not too sure how far behind the Windows version it is though.

  12. @DarkDuck: It is, if the stable release is only a few days away. Perhaps you should have waited a little with your comparison; I mean you are comparing KDE with a GNOME version that will be obsoleted by a major version-change next Wednesday!

  13. You have to be kiddin'. This was the best you could come up with?
    "Chrome function "Create Desktop Shortcut" is not working properly". There are a lot of applications that does not work properly in KDE, but are you sure that is KDEs fault?
    I have never encounter your problems with Dolphin so, but please file a bug report.
    What turns me off regarding Gnome is that the developers know better than yourself what you need and like.

  14. @Gnome defenders - It is amazing how a commentators appear everywhere defending Gnome with such ferocity. Instead of convincing me that I want to use Gnome, it just makes me think of MS/Apple shrills instead. BTW I do use Gnome 2.x, but I'm considering KDE after trying out Fedora's version of Gnome Shell. Ofc I'll try out Gnome Shell as soon as it goes stable with a distro.

  15. The best desktop is still KDE 3.5.10, Gnome is nice and tidy, but the problem is it limits user to much. After trying to migrate to Gnome I gave up.

    * I didn't find image viewer that can match GwenView/KDE3 -- Geeqie is close but lacks the bookmarks feature
    * for no clear reason you cannot define keyboard shortcut ctrl+tab -- in _every_ Gnome program

    On the other hand Gnome has Gimp and better disk burner (I use Brasero).

    So, no major issues maybe, but no also no major advantages. Migration in such conditions would be pointless.

    The worst part is however direction of development -- more and more developers ignore "user in control" principle and tries to mimic MS/Apple "we know better" -- you can see the results of it in KDE4, Gnome3, Gimp, openSUSE Yast, and so on and on. Not very bright future, if you ask me.

  16. As a KDE lover, you are using wrong distro.
    Kubuntu's implementation of KDE is just... poor.

    If you love KDE so much, you should go to openSUSE.

  17. Running current Gnome3 with Fedora15 on a Dell Lat D820, it runs smooth and is quickly accessible. Even the virtual desktop dock on the right side is what I have finally expected. It could use a little more work on the main dock with a little more 'effects'. KDE4 ran but at a snails pace, doing better once I changed to the laptop/netbook interface (which was not very intuitive). I will probably keep G3 on the laptop, but like the author I run K4 on my desktop, why? the number apps (and libraries) reaching maturity on KDE is making it a complete replacement OS, where GTK apps/libs are still 2-3 years out at the current pace to be equal.

  18. @Anonymous said "KDE4 ran but at a snails pace".

    If you have a fairly recent computer with decent resources (CPU & Memory), KDE4 should run fine. Check your graphics driver because it could slow KDE quite a bit

  19. @GI MIKE!
    Anyway Nero is not FOSS. I can try it, but for sure I will not replace GNOME Baker.

  20. @Anonymous1
    Maybe I hurried a little. But since KDE4 is stable for ages, and GNOME is only to be released sometime soon, it will be unfair for KDE to be compared with newer version of GNOME.
    What do you think? It's like a race. Every time we can have only one winner. Someone has to lose.

  21. @Anonymous2:
    There might be thousands of applications which work or do not work in KDE or GNOME. I mentioned the most annoying for me. ;-)

  22. @Steve Chan
    This is kind of Holy War. KDE vs GNOME. Windows vs Linux vs Apple. I only gave my humble input in it. ;)
    We're lucky enough since we know there is GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, E17 etc. People in Mac/Win do not realize there is an option to change the shell above the OS!

  23. @macias
    Yes, I like KDE3 too.
    There might be several more reviews of OSes based on KDE3 soon. Stay connected!

  24. @Emil Beli
    I wrote why I have Kubuntu installed... (http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2010/10/how-to-get-south-african-humanity-on.html)
    Also, I think I made an error when I tried OpenSuSE 11.4 with GNOME (http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2011/03/4-disappointments-from-opensuse-114.html). Everyone tells me I had to chose KDE. Maybe I will make another approach to OpenSuSE...

  25. @Anonymous3
    I think you got to the point. KDE looks more mature...

  26. @Anonymous4
    If you have decent hardware, everything will run smoothly. Even Windows.
    But what if you do not have it?
    I am not asking you to get to the level of K.Mandla, but 4-5-6 y.o.laptop should be able to run any decent desktop environment smoothly.
    To be honest, I think Ubuntu runs little bit faster that Kubuntu. And Debian with GNOME is even more faster. But still... Speed difference is not that significant that I want to change from KDE now.

  27. For me KDE is like Windows bling-bing.
    I abandoned MS years ago to find rest, tranquilaty and get things done with Gnome :)

    I do not mind tempering with the cli to get conf files right.

    I once tried KDE and lost track of which button I (de-)activated in the process of getting things done my way.

    BTW don't like the unity way but expecting much of Gnome3

  28. @Anonymous:
    Thanks for your comment. I think Unity and Gnome3 are most doubtful innovations in Linux world this year.

  29. +1 --> Xfce ;)

    Hi, DD! You've been officially bookmarked. Guillermo led me to you. :)



  30. @noctslackv1
    Hi Eric!
    Nice to see you here!

  31. KDE is by far the best!
    Here is why:
    1)Each virtual desktop can have a different set of wallpapers and widgets.Gone can't
    2)Tabbing apps inside other apps.Simply awesome!Gnome can't
    3)Activities with its own set of virtual workspaces.Gnome can't
    4)Depth of customization.The gap becomes bigger since gnome 3 released...
    5)Built in widgets and big built in variety of kind of wallpapers as well as marvelous screen edges

    What KDE needs:
    1)Voice recognition based on the Simon Project
    2)Showing gnome apps even better than in gnome itself
    3)Optimization and intense bug fixing so to be stabler and speedier

    Thanks, Greg.
    I think most of GNOME apps require good chunk of GNOME as dependency. As a result, you can end up with Molotov's cocktail if you want to run GNOME native apps in KDE. That's why I keep GNOME. As I mentioned, I still think GNOME Baker is still the best burning tool.

  33. I dont understand the bickering between KDE/Gnome fanboys anyway. The beautiful part about Linux is that you dont have to compromise. I have openSUSE KDE(which feels kind of bloated), Ubuntu Lucid-Gnome, and I'm trying to give Natty-Unity a fair shot. I've tried LMDE and was messing around with Debian itself for a bit and kind of set that aside (I'm guessing I wont get back to that for quite awhile with Lovelock (fedora) coming in about 10 days). But anyway, the point is that you can use all of these and switch between with relative ease and a little patience. Hell you can switch between KDE and Gnome on the same distro if you were really so inclined.

  34. @Anonymous:
    I think bickering between fans of different DEs is both useful and useless. Truth is born in disputute. Even you are not neutral in this dispute since you admit that LMDE is not your cup of tea. I prefer KDE to anything else, you prefer KDE and GNOME to LMDE. We're very similar in this.

  35. KDE 4 rules! Amusingly, Gnome 3 has no visible shutdown button (you have to press the ALT key so that the shutdown button gets visible) - an absolute no-no for Linux novices.

  36. @Anonymous:
    Agree, that's a funny thing in GNOME 3. I had to query Google about it when I tried Fedora 15.
    But still... there are people who like GNOME3. That's their choice!

  37. Gnome and Unity both are crazy now.

  38. I tried Ubuntu, Fedora 17, Mint with the following DEs => Gnome 2.x, Gnome Shell, Unity, MATE, Cinnamon, XFCE, LMDE, LXDE on my personal computers which are Dell Inspiron (QuadCore + 6GB RAM), HP SlimLine desktop (Core 2 Duo with 4 GB RAM) & a old Compaq Presario (Dual Core + 1 GB RAM)

    And I am hogging on to (or maybe still deciding) between KDE 4.x and MATE. Rest all is a NO NO!

    The best thing I like about KDE, is that, its basi desktop effects requires no compiz configuration, all themes & such require installation of no separate tools, and no matter what distro you choose, the same themes, icons, whatever are 100% compatible!

    As for the applications, I've never had a problem, especially that I had to disable "Desktop Effects" on my old laptop

    Even my office laptop, Lenovo T420 comes with RHEL Workstation, where I got Gnome 2.x + KDE 4.x gives no trouble

    From distro to distro, between various versions of Gnome 2.x, Gnome 3.x, Gnome Shell & Unity .. there is rarely a common thing w.r.t customization of the interface. However, if you go for KDE, it's a standard across all. It's like, again as I said, no matter what distro you choose, you got the same steps, config files, themes etc to set it up as you like it and no separate tools required & no special googling required as well!

    If a regular user had to spend (or rather waste) time on the internet just trying to find out how to enable/disable/change this n that on a regular home desktop/laptop, what's the use of such a DE in the first place?

    I'm not a regular user, a Linux SME, actually. However, even I would not like to waste so much time on just trying to find out how to customize my damn desktop by spending hours on google!

    KDE is something that I'd like to stick to, cause spending 15 mins of common-sense helps me customize anything & everything I want. I'd rather spend my other time in some productive work rather than to find how to customize my interface. And a regular user, let's say someone in my family, who are not tech geeks, would do their other work, which is again, not searching for technical solutions how to make their desktop work! If they have to, what the hell did those organizations do creating the distribution in the first place?

    *buntu started off with the Human thing, however that got lost in the translation and I see them becoming MS or Apple for that matter. What a huge shame for so called OpenSource foundation and ethics. Yes, linux offers you choice and you can choose and change whatever whenever you like, but if you are targetting a large market of desktop users, then build something that doesn't so much tweaking & googling!

    1. Mridul, thanks for so long and details response to this fairly old post. Do you want to write a short article for the blog "what I like in KDE"?

      As for *buntu, I think they are moving from dome desktop to corporate desktop market clearly.