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Not just Solaris. Old school DE found in other commercial unices, e.g. HP-UX. It was pretty bitchin' for it's day. That was before Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, and indeed, even Linux were even a gleam in their developers eyes....
KDE is the best of the DEs available. It provides the intrgrated approach towards the desktop. e.g. KDE has KWin which provides the destop effects integrated. Compiz as a replace for metacity or Kwin is just too bad.
GNOME is famous as it is default with Ubuntu (and Fedora) and they do most of their customizations for which feature on their release page. Later they are ported to KDE.
KDE just needs more attention and some polishing in terms of bug fixes and artwork to competete with GNOME.
It was like the standard DE on 1990's Solaris, HP-UX, AIX and many other Unix/Linux systems. About year 2000 most people started switching to the "new" GNOME, XFCE and KDE desktops. CDE continued to be used on Solaris until about 2005 though.
I use KDE 4 <point><something> and love it.
Cant understand why there's factionism... "KDE is dumb, and so are people using it", "KDE resembles windows", "KDE is maintained only because torvalds uses it".. keep hearing it all the time from gnome fans! (especially the last one! hilarious!!) Guess freedom of choice is here to stay with open source and one should quit resorting to such methods of factionism.. If the KDE you used was buggy, its mostly the distro to blame and not the desktop environment.
P.S.: BTW i tried kubuntu 9.10, and hated it for all the bugs it had... but guess what.. the problem is only with the combination of my laptop hardware and 9.10.
Used to be a KDE user. Until KDE4. I here its improved. So I might check it out again. But for the last couple years I have been content with Gnome. It is functional and stable. And with Compiz it is pretty slick looking.