[Reply to GNOME question]
Which version do you have? I myself am using 2.4.1, and I can tell you whether to update or not if you tell me.
About tarballs, some people seem to like thinking that they're packages, problem due to the plague that the RPM puts in everyone. lol They're actually parallel to zip files in the way that they are just compressed archives and for programs, they contain the source code. That means you extract them and compile the source code. Here's a simple tutorial on it.
tar -xjpf filename.tar.bz2 OR tar -xzpf filename.tar.gz OR tar -xpf filename.tar
./configure --path=/usr # Can also be ./Configure, depening on the
name of the configuration script in the directory. Just type both if one returns a
"file not found" error.
make # Compiles the program and make the binaries
su - # Become root in order to install the files
make install # Install the binaries and other files into the correct places
exit # Exit the root's shell
After doing that, all should be good in the world.
[Note about KDE]
I used to have KDE when I was using Mandrake and I was truly annoyed by it. All it really seemed to do was be confusing and take up a lot of space on my HDD. You say that there are more programs for it, but if there are then they surely like to put all of them in it because it is extremely bloated.
Also, GNOME has a lot of apps that are much better than the ones in KDE, and not to mention KDE is way to slow to keep up with me. On the second run with KDE during boot up, GNOME is still faster in it's first run. Not only is it slower, but it confused the hell out of me whereas GNOME is sexy and not confusing. Look at my screenshots, and tell me that's not way sexier that KDE.