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GNOME vs. KDE: The Final Smackdown

Two Linux desktops step into the ring. But in the end, there can be only one...

Ken: Hello ladies and gentleman, and welcome to the Linux Magazine Arena in beautiful downtown San Francisco! We’re here for tonight’s main event; GNOME vs. KDE; The Final Smackdown! I’d also like to welcome my co-commentator for tonight’s battle royale;Red Debuntu Volkersworth.

Red: Thanks, Ken. The energy in this place is truly amazing! These two industry giants intend to settle the score once and for all, and only one can hold the title of Universal Linux Window Manager. Judging by the sound of the crowd, I’d say the two are about to enter the ring. Who’s the favorite in tonight’s challenge?

Ken: Vegas odds have it as an even match going into the fight, although there’s been some talk that KDE’s 4th incarnation might give it the punching power to finally take GNOME out once and for all.

Red: Well, we’ll see. GNOME’s newest entry isn’t too shabby either, Ken. But let’s face it; This battle for desktop dominance has been raging for 10 years now. This is going to be one brutal brawl.

Ken: Yes, I think everyone is waiting to find out if either of them will walk away from this thing intact. So let’s go to the ring.

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, and fanboys of all nations! Welcome to tonight’s main event; The Linux Desktop Final Smackdown! In the corner to my right, wearing blue, and weighing in at just under 300 megabytes… The Kollosus… The Konquistidor… The Konqueror… KDE! And in the far corner, wearing a foot symbol… Weighing in at 310 megabytes… The pride of the GNU Project… The Gnerminator… The Gnihilator… GNOME!

ROUND ONE: THE SMACKDOWN

Ken: And there’s the bell. Man! These guys are wasting no time! GNOME charges into the center of the ring and stings KDE with a volley of jabs touting its latest version improvements in 2.2.6 as more advanced than those in KDE’s 4.2.2.

Red: GNOME definitely has a lot of firepower here, Ken. Look at how it’s using its Comprehensive Disc Burning software Brasero, its simpler file sharing via WebDAV, HTTP and Bluetooth, its media player improvements, and its integrated volume control with PulseAudio to really stick it to KDE.

Ken: Absolutely. Maybe this won’t be the fight everyone was expecting after all. GNOME is clearly in a groove now, with this powerful and surprising opening gambit. KDE seems a little off balance and has yet to respond. I almost feel sorry for KDE in the wake
of –

Red: GNOME is down!!!

Ken: What just happened?!?

Red: KDE pointed out that GNOME, at its current version, 2.2.6, is still in version 2.x after almost seven years! Oh! What a stunning blow and realization for the GNOME desktop and user community!

Ken: The referee’s count has reached five, six …

Red: This won’t end that quickly, Ken, GNOME is climbing back to its feet…

Ken: You’re right Red, that knockdown definitely surprised GNOME a bit, but it’s jumping right back into the fray! GNOME is back up and punching wildly with news of its support for multiple monitors, fingerprint authentication and its improved Epiphany web browser!

Red: Yes, and look at that! A viscious one-two punch combination from GNOME comparing Nautilus, it’s all-business file manager, to KDE’s bloated and less stable Dolphin file manager.

Ken: Dolphin? What the heck happened to Konqueror; The do everything file manager?

Red: In a major letdown to users, the KDE team decided to replace Konqueror with Dolphin; in an attempt to use something less bloated than Konqueror.

Ken: That’s like trading butter for that yellow-colored movie popcorn grease. Lots of fat and no taste.

Red: I’d have to agree. But look! KDE is using its new found version 4 speed improvements to stay just out of GNOME’s reach!

Ken: And the blows from KDE’s new Plasma desktop interface and Oxygen artwork are really starting to wear on GNOME’s tired 2.0 interface design, Red.

Red: Clearly… And there’s the bell ending round one!

Ken: Unbelievable! The Ref has to pull these two apart! Red, have you ever seen an opener like this?

Red: …Not since Python put the squeeze on C# a few years ago at that developer conference over in San Jose…

END OF ROUND ONE

Ken: Wow, that was an exciting first round! Let’s go to the scorecard.

Red: At the end of Round One, we have GNOME scoring with those version to version improvements, while KDE’s improvements were mostly bugfixes and not real enhancements. That said, the first knockdown goes to KDE with that notification of GNOME’s version stagnation.

Ken: I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. What difference does the version number make?

Red: As far as functionality goes, nothing. But the GNOME look hasn’t changed since the introduction of version 2.0 back in 2002, while KDE has undergone major transformations with each successive major version step. The point clearly goes to KDE.

Ken: Yes, I can see where you’re coming from. On the other hand, I have the default file manager decision belonging to GNOME because of Nautilus. Changing KDE’s default file manager to Dolphin was a major mistake.

Red: I had it scored that way as well. And the final point for KDE this round is the look, feel and speed of its new Plasma shell interface. Its quick startup and snappy responsiveness feel much lighter than GNOME’s.

Ken: OK! So at the end of Round One, my scorecard has the contenders dead even with two points each. Thanks Red, and now let’s head back to the ring for Round Two.

ROUND ONE GNOME KDE
Version Improvements
x
Version
x
File Manager
x
Desktop Interface
x

Next: ROUND TWO: THE BEATDOWN

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