Gnome

The other desktop environment for Linux is GNOME. There is something of a tradition of dichotomies in this world: the disagreement between the devotees of vi and emacs. In the area of scripting languages there is a similar split between the followers of Perl and those who use Python. On the desktop, it is KDE versus GNOME.

As noted earlier, GNOME began as a reaction against KDE and the license of the Qt toolkit. The ideological battle is long over — the Qt license as used in KDE is now acceptable to all. It is worth noting nonetheless that there is still a significant license difference in that GNOME applications can be (and are) compiled and offered on the Windows platform; the Qt license does not allow the same to be done with KDE applications, although it is possible in principle.

Traditionally, because KDE was the default on SUSE, at one time SUSE's GNOME packages tended to be less well looked after, and less well integrated into the rest of the system. There was also a tendency for them to be somewhat less up-to-date than the comparable KDE versions. Indeed, on at least one occasion the timing of a SUSE release was calculated to be exactly in time to carry a major KDE release.

As with KDE, GNOME attempts to provide an entire desktop environment in which compliant applications can cooperate in drag-and-drop, copy-and-paste, and other tasks. Again, as with KDE, this means significant costs in overhead before any programs are actually run. Discussions abound about which approach is technically better and about which environment has a better look and feel and better programs.

i- : i , The free desktop project at www.freedesktop.org focuses on interoperability

^ i-.-.,". \'CV..\*: between different desktop environments for the X Window system. The project's goal is to provide a common infrastructure that KDE, GNOME, and others can agree upon and build upon. The motivation for the founding of the project was partly the widely shared feeling that the differences between GNOME and KDE were likely to hinder the adoption of Linux as a desktop system by businesses.

SUSE now provides an up-to-date version of GNOME in order to support the latest and greatest GNOME applications. Some of the key GNOME applications are the Nautilus file manager, the Evolution mail client, the GIMP graphics package, the AbiWord word processor and Gnu-meric spreadsheet, the Inkscape vector graphics package, and (slightly tangentially as they are not strictly part of the project) the Mozilla browser and popular derivatives such as Firefox.

In many ways, from the user's point of view, there is little difference when choosing between KDE and GNOME (see Figure 8-5).

FIGURE 8-5

A new user's default GNOME desktop

FIGURE 8-5

However, some differences do exist and a couple of notable ones are as follows:

■ One difference that you will immediately notice is that, by default, KDE is a one-click interface: Clicking an icon once launches the application or action. In most cases, this is intuitive and corresponds well with the one-click nature of web links, but it is still difficult for the user coming from Windows. It can cause problems occasionally when it seems that you need to first select an item and then do something with it. In most cases, a right-click enables you to do what you want. GNOME's double-click default is perhaps easier for Windows refugees although KDE can be reconfigured to use double-clicks, as well.

■ Another key difference between GNOME and KDE is that technically GNOME does not include its own window manager; it requires a GNOME-compliant window manager. These days, that means the Metacity window manager, although in the past GNOME was normally used with the Sawfish window manager. KDE can also use other window managers, although it uses its own, kwin, by default.

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