Jun 19, 2007

My Take: why KDE is better than GNOME

November 16th, 2006

I tried both Ubuntu and Kubuntu. I have both installed, but have come to prefer Kubuntu so much that I only boot Ubuntu to perform rescue operations on my Kubuntu partition. (As a newbie, I did a lot of those the first month, lol.) Arguing that one desktop environment is better than the other is generally flame-bait and leads to pointless arguing over differing philosophies, so instead of some high, philosophical argument, I thought I’d just share my personal experiences, and explain why I like KDE.

I use KDE for a few reasons.
  • I find KDE is more responsive: e.g. my mouse NEVER FREEZES! (Except when the whole computer freezes…. ) That’s what had me hooked. It felt snappier running from the live CD than Ubuntu did running off my hard disk. For instance, I get a noticeable delay (a quarter or half second) between when the Gnome “Applications” menu drops down and when it gets populated with icons.
  • I like the default “look” (shiny and blue) for Kubuntu much more than the default “look” for Ubuntu (flat and brown). I know some people don’t care about eye candy, but it really does matter to me. Little things, like how the close button in KDE windows fades to red when you hover over it, just makes KDE a more pleasent asthetic experience. If you use a computer for hours on end like I do, it helps if you’re staring at something beautiful. (Although I found customizing the theme and window decorations much easier in Gnome than in KDE.)
  • I’m a customizing freak. I change everything. KDE has more options to change. A lot more options. I’m a very capable person, and Gnome sacrifices capability just to make things “simple”. For instance, compare Gnome’s and KDE’s handling of removable mass storage devices. On Gnome, I only found one option: “Mount devices automatically” or not. On KDE, you get an XP style pop-up with customizable options based on the type of content (CD, flash drive), and you can define commands to run automatically when certain types of media are inserted (e.g. “Play Audio CD’s with Kaffeine”), and what options to present when different media is inserted.
Lastly and most importantly, I like KDE software better than their Gnome counterparts. Konqueror is superior to Nautilus, for instance, and I think Amarok is cooler than the default Gnome music player (Rhythmbox). Also KDE has killer apps, like Yakuake, a console that drops down at the touch of F12, and Katapult, which lets you launch programs by typing Alt+Space and the first few letters of the program’s name.

These are just my opinions of course. Both Gnome and KDE are good desktops and should both be developed further, because competition will help encourage them both to improve. I can easily see a future where I use Gnome at work and KDE at home.

Postscript 6-19-07:
As I've delved deeper into the inner workings of Linux, I'm impressed by the technology inside KDE, particularly DCOP.  (Although I'm looking forward to when all applications adopt the new DBUS standard.)  I've also been impressed by the level of integration among applications and consistency.  I'm really looking forward to KDE4, which has lots of exciting libraries to make life easier for developers.

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