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well, you might as well ask: what's the difference between an apple and an orange? they're both round, they're both fruit, and they both grow on trees, but beyond that it gets harder to say.
as far as gnome and kde, they're both desktop environments, they're both GUIs, and they both grow on FTP trees (i think they do at least), but beyond that it gets harder to say. preference for either is usually subjective, i think, although maybe there are resources issues that i'm not totally familiar with that would lead someone to prefer one over the other (e.g., gnome perhaps using less memory, kde perhaps starting fewer services, etc.)
I really have no preference. I have both of them on my machine, i was just curious what the differences were. Are different programs loaded with each of them or do each of them have the same programs running? I'm on KDE right now and it seems really cool...why does gnome take up less memory?
I might get flamed for this, but I think KDE comes with a lot more features. Thats attractive to some, and unattractive to others. People that like KDE call it more convenient than Gnome, while Gnome-lovers call it bloated. It really all is an issue of personal preference, although the speed/performance capabilities of your computer could be a alsofactor if you are using older hardware.
As for me, I run a 1Ghz Athlon with 256MB of RAM, and (before yesterday) 20 GB of hard disk space. I had two OS's crammed onto that hard drive and KDE ran smooth for me so I used it rather than Gnome. (I bought a 160 GB hard drive a couple days ago and have yet to reinstall Linux yet)
I like to use gnome on distros that are bigger (redhat, mandrake) because it is less bloated, and i love nautilus. On slack I think kde is good. KDE has a lot of apps for it, basically anything that starts with k. Many of these will run on gnome though. I think KDE trys to be more newbie friendly and has more eye candy while gnome isn't so focused on being newbie friendly but that's just my opinion. On features, go into kde control center and look at it and then go into gnome preferences. And 160gig harddrive, wow. I couldn't ever use that much space.
Well, lets modify my original post to say KDE comes with more features built in standard. Tools for nearly all of the same things are easily available for Gnome.
As far as the features go, open up the Control Center in KDE. It should be off the KDE gear icon on the main panel. Look through that and then compare it to its Gnome counterpart.
Another difference between the two of them are the toolkits that they make use of. KDE and applications written for it mainly make use of Qt while Gnome uses GTK. The most easily noticed difference in this case is that sometimes the buttons and menus will look different.
Some KDE apps don't work well with Gnome components (ie panels) while the same is true with Gnome apps for KDE components. This disjointed-ness has become a little better as standards for Linux desktops have emerged.
Another thing to consider when weighing the two options is this: most distros focus on EITHER KDE or Gnome. For instance, Red Hat is more geared towards Gnome than KDE. SuSE is more geared towards KDE. This may make me, a SuSE user, believe KDE to be superior while this isn't necessarily the case.
So once again, all it really comes down to is personal preference. I'd really encourage you (and myself) to give Gnome more of a try. It definitely is a good product and it wouldn't hurt anything to play around in it a little more...
Darin, yeah, 160 GB is huge. I originally thought I would buy a 60 or 80 GB one, but this one was on sale and came with an ATA card for free (it is supposedly a $50 value according to the box).
My thought was, a dollar a gig is a good deal, and this was only $100 (US), plus came w/ the card, so it would have been a good deal for $170-200. I couldn't resist Especially when the cheapest 80 GB I found was about $130...