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I have to agree, it can only be decided by which one "you like" and not so much which is better. Early on I had a hard time browsing around the OS with gnome and could find everything I needed in KDE, however now that I am getting more experienced with Linux, I am finding I like Gnome better because as it was stated, to me, KDE is almost "windowsXPish" to me. This also just my opinion, which on most days is worth a free sandwich.
if you boot into graphical mode, you can change it with your login manager. in text mode, you can run go to /etc/X11/xinit (I think) and run some of those scripts.
As for KDE vs GNOME, I like GNOME's look for its simplicity but KDE's functionality. KDE's look isn't bad if you use plastik and certain things I turn off or on. KDE has a lot of options so to me, I figure it'd scare the newbie. GNOME's set up stuff is very simple and easier to use, but you have less control. If you want control, you have to run gconfig or something like that (correct me if i'm wrong since I don't remembeR) and it's like Windows' registry editor. Firefox and gaim use GTK, so that you may want to take into consideration if you want everything to look the same. I juse use them in KDE since I don't really care.
I prefer kde. Personally I think it has a more "fun" look...and I like that. It's also very customizable...I change it's look to my mood. Gnome is okay, the newer version is much better in my opinion, but it's just less appealing to me. It's simply a personal opinion. I really don't think kde is limited to "newbs" nor' do I think gnome is limited to "hardcore" users.
Whatever floats your boat I suppose..and KDE floats mine