Karmic Gnome V KDE. Who will win? One things for sure, theres a few things you need to know about the Koala, see the end of this article for more info!

Ladies and gentlemen! In the blue corner weighing in at 9.10 is KDE and in the red corner also weighing in at 9.10 is Gnome..”For the thousands in attendance and the millions watching around the world..lets get ready to rrrrrrrumble!”

I am going to keep this article short(ish) since there have already been many reviews of both DE’s and this is more for a side by side to either strengthen my case for moving to KDE or infact having me returning back to a DE that has always been there for me…Gnome!!!

I reviewed Kubuntu 9.10 a short while ago and it was due to me commenting on completing a migration away from Gnome that prompted another user to question my reasoning.  Of course I had my own good reasons, KDE felt smoother, looked more polished and the graphical glitches seemed to be ironed out in the version packaged with 9.10.

Having said that I started to question how realistic that impression was since I had never compared Gnome on a like for like basis.

Being a massive supporter of Xfce and a follower of Fluxbox et al, the only rig previously to have had Gnome (for any extended period of time) on it was a heavily mod’ed Ubuntu 8.04 which I had loving called DeepRed (which itself was derived from the somewhat controversial Ubuntu Satanic Edition.

So with Kubuntu 9.10 already having a permanent place on one of my rigs (and a very strong possibility of getting onto a few more), I thought I would give it the head to head treatment with the Gnome version of the same title.   Theres always been some snobbery around Linux distro’s and it seems that some people go out of their way to use a “l337” distro.   Is that really necessary?  We all know how to install Nvidia drivers regardless of the distro and if you don’t its nothing more complicated than a quick Google and a few copy and paste commands.  I like to compile my software but then theres one hell of a time saving by using Software Center for example.  This is where Ubuntu has always really shone for me, it provides quick setup time and as with any distro, the scope for those who have used Linux for a while to “fiddle”.  Having said that my main rig is Wolvix!


Both Gnome and KDE offer a pretty simple installation process, which offered no issues on either rig I used.  Ive already been into the install process for KDE and you can see that review here.

Both installs took roughly the same time, that being about 25mins a piece (thats not scientific) Hardware was recognised by both without difficulty.  The proprietary drivers had to be installed separately (obviously) but there was no flaws and the problem I experienced with Mandriva 2010 (which I documented on Twitter recently) of 1280 x 800 not being allowed (despite it claiming otherwise) was not present with Gnome and Karmic.  Please don’t try to offer me advice on that issue, I did attempt in the end to try and sort it and couldn’t. I commented that Gnome and Mandriva offered me more work than a fresh Gentoo install!  Having said that, this is about Gnome V KDE with 9.10 so I will move on.

In the first round of install/hardware compat, it was a draw between the two.


Despite not being up to the speed of my beloved Wolvix, both performed very well and considering at the present time I am also using Windows 7 for a later review, it makes you appreciate how great a Linux platform is when you can get the same performance and eye candy with a 4 year old machine running the latest distro as you can with Windows 7 on the latest top of the range specs.  I digress, the Windows 7 article is for another day.

In terms of FPS both are almost identical and without a scientific means of measuring, I am going to say that they both draw here too.

Watch out, the Koala can bite back. So which has more teeth? Gnome or KDE?


I’ll start with what I don’t like about KDE, I really don’t like the toolbar that pops out when an icon or widget has focus.  It looks a mess.  Having said that KDE is natively more pretty than Gnome and although KDE does put me in mind of a Vista past I’d rather forget, its smooth and you can’t fault it.  Looking at Gnome, Ive always loved the default panel at the top and bottom.  It makes sense for me and feels natural, bottom for the open programs/windows and top for my shortcuts.  KDE’s default panel does not feel as good so Id say Gnome has the upperhand here.

Comparing KPackageKit to Software Center is a no contest, I think Software Center is not only far more user friendly, but I love the layout and preview screens to get a good idea of what you are about to download.

Its not all good news for Gnome 2.28.1 though as Ubuntu did introduce something which Ive never experienced before (and something which was not an issue with the KDE version)  Sound gliches….there was a noticeable pop when sound was initialized in order to play and what a pop too!  Ive read many detractors write about Ubuntu sound issues and this was the first one Ive ever experienced.  The problem was simple to fix:

1. sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

2. options snd-hda-intel power_save=0 power_save_controller=N

Then simply reset your rig.  This solution worked for me and was very simple, however since Ubuntu is aimed towards the new user (and particularly the migrating Windows user) is this really what a Linux “newbie” is going to feel comfortable doing?  Of course this is not a global issue, so I assume its rig dependent.  The other issue I had with Ubuntu 9.10 is that changing the DNS server is not as straightforward as it was in 8.04.  In 8.04 it was literally a 2 second job, 9.10?  Nope!  Trying to change it through the DE was just not playing nicely and it required a quick modification to /etc/resolv.conf in order to get the little blighter using a DNS server other than the godawful (IMO) o2 one.

Ive made no secret Ive been following the Chromium project since the early builds and Im happy to say it plays nicely with both DE’s of Ubuntu 9.10.

After all said and done (and its taken me about 2 hours to get my 9.10 rig to roughly what I want) I am swayed more towards the Gnome version of Karmic. Looking at both screens side by side, I feel far more at home with a Gnome DE and that is reinforced when I remember “theres a K for everything” in KDE (I cite Kscreensaver NOT being installed as default as a good example) Providing I am not misguided into believing the popping issue is relatively on a small scale, I think Gnome DE is the better version.   I am a little disappointed that Karmic installed with a few issues with Gnome and I would hope these are ironed out shortly.

The preview on the taskbar of running programs is a feature heralded by Microsoft supporters as if its the greatest thing since the microchip.  This is available in Gnome and performs in the same way as a Windows counterpart, its not amazing, but it certainly doesn’t take anywhere near the specs that Windows 7 does (IMO) to get it running smoothly. – Just thought Id add that in if you are considering a Linux option rather than a Windows 7 purchase.


Whilst they may look cute Koalas can be quite dangerous!

….will drop from the branches onto the shoulders of bushwalkers below, and proceed to claw and bite. There has been the occasional fatality caused by a jugular being punctured but usually the victim suffers nothing more than a nasty shock and a couple of scratches. Source: Convictcreations.com

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com