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GNOME vs. KDE, which is better & why? Also what Linux distro do you use?

By UncleRob ·
I'm new to linux and I've been downloading quite a few different distributions to determine which version to settle down with. I've noticed that not only are the numerous linux distributions different from each other feature wise, I've also noticed that some of them default to either a KDE or GNOME desktop environment. My question is why the difference exists, is one better than the other, is one better suited to a workplace environment and one better suited to a home user environment, why can't one desktop environment (KDE or GNOME) handle both needs - this isn't a complaint, it's a genuine question from an interested Linux newbie.

Currently I've installed Ubuntu v5.04 which runs GNOME v2.1 (or 2.6? both values have shown up in different places) and I've tried SuSE v9.1 which runs KDE v3.2. Both of these distributions are Live EVAL CD's which means they run directly off the cd. They both set themselves with automatic network connections so they have internet access as soon as the load up (typically @ 2min. bootup times), they both have an office suite and both do an OK job at detecting the hardware. I've noticed that SuSE does a better job of allowing the user to configure desktop settings (screen resolutions, desktop backgrounds, screensavers, etc.) just by right clicking on the desktop while Ubuntu only allows you to change the desktop background by rightclicking on the desktop, all other desktop settings have to be searched for through the system\preferences menu. Ubuntu has a better terminal server client compared to SuSE's, both work well, Ubuntu's is just easier to use (I don't have to throw in vnc or rdp prefix before the workstation or server name). I've tried Mepis v3.3 (live cd) because I've read some good reviews on it but it seems to be pickier hardware wise, Ubuntu & SuSE ran well on pc's that Mepis would lock up on during the bootup process (even using test boot modes) and Mepis loads some junk on the taskbar that I've tried to get rid of but can't (cpu & resource meter along with weather indicator - if anyone knows how to remove those items please post it as I'd like to try it)

Another interesting live cd linux distribution that I've tried is Beatrix v2005.1 and it seems to run on everything that I've thrown at it (from really old digital 3000 series desktops running 166mhz cpu's, to kind of old but still worthy p3 500's to newer desktops running p4 2.8ghz pc - it also comes as a live cd with an hd install option and comes with an office suite and browser/email apps built in, it lacks some multimedia ability but I think is done on purpose by it's creators.

I plan on test driving RedHat v9 desktop ("shrike"), Novell's linux offering, along with Gentoo and a few others that catch my eye (Anyone know where I can download a free version of turbolinux's desktop distro?) Xandros sounds interesting but I'm not too keen on the bittorrent download and don't want to pay money for a cd to be shipped to me for something I'm not guaranteed to use.

I've also tried Lycoris v3, DSL v0.9.2 as well as College linux v2.5 and none of these IMHO are worth wasting your time on just in case you're a linux newbie and wondered about them, save your time and a few blank cd's.

Once I pick a distribution, I want to setup several linux boxes, connect them to my existing windows network and see if I can get them running as normal office workstations. Anyone know how I can access windows network shares from a linux box, I've tried it on Ubuntu and SuSE, I can browse network folders but once I try to access a specific share, ex. smb://workstation_name I'm prompted for a username and password, I provide my network login credentials but it returns an error so it looks like I'm missing something, if it requires a domain name infront of the user name or if it wants it in a specific format, it's not telling me how it wants the login info entered so I'm at a loss.

I'm still in the beginning stages of becoming a linux user, I'm nowhere near being an expert, more of an informed "newbie". Still lots to learn and there's alot of info available on the net but if you have a few words or comments to spare on the contents of this hugely verbose post, please do share.

thx.... unclerob,wpg

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by stress junkie In reply to GNOME vs. KDE, which is b ...

As as newbie you probably wouldn't like what I do but lets get to that last. I saw a couple of comments and questions in your post that I thought I might clarify.

You wrote "... is one better than the other ..."
No, one is not better than the other. One is not better suited to work and the other better suited for home or any other combination that you can think of. These projects are independent of each other. The reason for the differences is very simple: different developers arrive at different styles.

You wrote "... why can't one desktop environment (KDE or GNOME) handle both needs ..."
They can. They do. If you install both GNOME and KDE then you can run GNOME based applications while using KDE and use can run KDE based applications while using GNOME. For instance you can run the GNOME desktop and still use Kmail and Kontact and any other KDE based application. You can run the KDE environment and still use GNOME Evolution and gnome-terminal and any other GNOME based application.

Applications designed for use in either environment use environment specific tools. KDE is QT based, which is an engine for creating X objects, DCOP for sending command line arguments to KDE applications, and MCOP for other interprocess communications. GNOME uses GTK+ for creating X objects. I haven't learned as much about the guts of GNOME as I have KDE.

The nice thing is that all of these parts can work simultaneously. They don't step on each other.

I'm going to stop here so that this information doesn't get lost in a huge post. I will end by telling you my configuration.

I use the ICE Window Manager. This is just another possible solution that performs the same function as GNOME and KDE. I like the ICE system because it starts a lot faster and is easy to configure via text files in the $HOME/.icewm directory. I use applications that are based on KDE tools, applications that are based on GNOME tools, and applications that are based on the general purpose X interface standards. THEY ALL WORK!!!!

That's the really good news that I have for you. You can choose any window manager that runs on top of XFree86 or window system. All of the window managers will work. All of the applications will work with any window manager.

Lastly, I recommend that you install the Xfce window manager just for the xftree application. This application is the most like Microsnot Windows Explorer of any file manager that I've seen on Linux. I love it.

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when you

by Jaqui In reply to GNOME vs. KDE, which is b ...

try a hard drive install from 3 cdroms ( or more depending on distro )
make sure you get to select individual packages.

my preffered desktop isn't kde or gnome it is enlightenment.
no bars, a widget in a corner and absolutely everything accessed through mouse clicks.

the only time you hit exclusivity in linux is hardware devices.
you can't run two drivers for same hardware at same time.
( good thing too )

with support for multiple logins into the xserver you can have multiple gui systems running at the same time.
( different user accounts for each )

mandrake/mandriva defaults to kde, but they include xfce, icewm, icewmlight, enlightenment, gnome, blackbox... they have a dozen gui systems included even in the dowload edition.

as much as people say they are no good, they do offer a fairly good selection, and everything is open source with them.
( thier own software is all open source as well )
very user friendly, and no longer bleedng edge.

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Window Managers, Distros, et all

by jmgarvin In reply to GNOME vs. KDE, which is b ...

1) It doesn't really matter what window manager you use. I like Gnome and FVWM, but they all have the same basic functionality
2) The distros I like with live cd are Knoppix, Gentoo, and Ubuntu...but to each their own
3) RH9 is dated. Try Fedora Core 3. For distros try: Fedora Core 3, Ubuntu, Knoppix, Gentoo, Suse, or Debian. If you are pretty hardcorps, try Slackware.
4) College Linux is ok, but too limited in scope. It is good for getting into the kernel.
5) Good for you! Samba is what you need. There are TONS of great samba tutorials on the web.
6) Welcome to a whole new world!!!

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samba login

by jdclyde In reply to GNOME vs. KDE, which is b ...

have you created an account in both the linux AND samba? samba (at least for login) needs an account setup and a password.

Good luck with the toys!

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HEY!!! Thank You All for the Great Info - Got Another question...

by UncleRob In reply to GNOME vs. KDE, which is b ...

Yes, I'm quite the inquisitive one, it gets annoying I'm sure, thanks for your patience.

Do any of you know or have experience installing linux on an existing pc running winxp using a vm environment like virtual pc 2004? Is this even possible? I was just having brainfart and it occurred to me that it might be cool to have both running simultaneously on the same pc. I have a decent p4 pc with plenty of drive space, memory, etc. Let me know what you think.

Again, thanks alot for your replies on my original post - this Linux world is definitely alot bigger than I had first imagined! Aside from a BartPE cd (which really doesn't count), you can't run windows live from a cd and have a suite of office, internet & email apps installed and ready to use. Linux is pretty cool.

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by jmgarvin In reply to HEY!!! Thank You All for ...

Sure it costs, but it is WAY worth it! I love VMWare and all it has done to...uh...for me!

There are free VMWare clones, but I prefer the feature set that VMWare offers. You can demo it ( and see if you like it.

It is a little pricey at $200 a pop, but IMHO it is worth every penny.

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by Choppit In reply to VMWare

VMWare is a great tool for loads of reasons. In my case physical space was an issue, so having virtual machines allows me to play without restrictions. My only constraint now is memory and disk space, particularly when I'm running multiple virtual hosts.

You mention free VM clones, I'd be interested to take a look at these. Any chance you could post some names/links?

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one limitation

by Jaqui In reply to VMWare

that is designed into vmware:

no hardware access ( network card specifically )

you have to also use a bridge with it to get online with the vm.

this is meant to allow hosting windows in a linux box, and see what damage a virus does with no risk of spreading, or real system infection.

fortunately, most install ditros ( if not all ) come with an ethernet bridge package, so you can vmware linux and still get online.

only concern is the performance hit..wirtual machine to os to bridge ... opportunities abound for chokepoints in processor access, specially with windows host and firewall / antivirus running. you will be able to use it, but mayu not get the full benefits with a vm hosted os.

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by Choppit In reply to one limitation

VMWare Workstation 4/5 handles hardware access, USB, drives, audio, NIC etc including bridging VLAN to LAN

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