However, as you examine the options, KDE frequently seems to go a step or two further than GNOME. Not only can it adjust different types of widgets within a theme, but it also includes things like animated icons to show that an application is loading, and a slide show for a screensaver. The extra effort is especially obvious on the desktop, where you can easily swap icon sets via folder view, or create hot spots along the desktop edges, or configure different mouse-clicks on the title bar of a window.
But perhaps the biggest advantage that KDE has in desktop effects. In GNOME, desktop effects require 3-D video support. Since 3-D support is a weak area in Linux, particularly if you choose not to use proprietary NVidia or ATI drivers, that means that, in GNOME, many users cannot take advantage of 3-D effects.
By contrast, KDE has its share of desktop special effects that require 3-D support. But many do not. With 2-D support, in KDE, you can still take advantage of effects such as shading inactive windows or sliding windows across the screen when you change multiple desktops. Perhaps that is why, while KDE has its share of eye-candy among its special effects, it also seems to have more practical ones than GNOME does, and to be more integrated into the desktop.
Verdict: KDE. GNOME is more than adequate, but KDE offers unusual, often thoughtful configuration options that GNOME doesn't match.
Tallying up my verdicts, I find that KDE nudges out GNOME by a single point, chiefly on the strength of its customization features. Although I switched to KDE last year, this result surprises me. Largely because of memories of omissions in the early KDE 4 series, I had the vague idea that KDE was far behind GNOME in administration tools in particular.
In fact, when you consider the features that would enhance both desktops and the advanced state of the basic configuration and customization tools, the decision is far closer than it was when, for example, I compared photo and music management or email readers.
Rather than a victory for KDE, this comparison satisfies me that both GNOME and KDE are strong in the fundamentals. Users might very well miss features in either, but, generally, both are solid interfaces for most purposes. KDE simply has a few extra refinements.
But if you really want to maximize your configuration and customization from the desktop, you should seriously consider installing both. That way, you can have the best of both desktops.
ALSO SEE: KDE vs. GNOME: Email Readers
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