KDE vs Gnome: pros and cons, how to choose the right one

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KDE vs Gnome: pros and cons, how to choose the right one
KDE vs Gnome: pros and cons, how to choose the right one

There are many kinds of desktops and window managers in Linux. The most popular Linux desktop environments are Cinnamon, Gnome, KDE, Mate, and Xfce. In terms of functionality, they are on par with desktops on Windows or Mac OS, are mature, have a rich history of innovation and many followers.

Which one is better is largely a matter of personal preference and the capabilities of the computer hardware. Users with older machines are better off choosing XFCE or LXDE, while on newer machines you can get more effects by choosing KDE or Gnome. Experienced users recommend trying all four working shells, and then decide which one suits best.

Free distribution environment

Free distribution environment
Free distribution environment

The GNOME project started in August 1997 as a free and open source environment. Its design philosophy can be described as light and mobile to use. The KDE community was created in October 1996. The creation of the system was carried out according to the principle of functional design with advanced features.

Comparison table Gnome vs KDE.





GNOME, the GNU Network Object Model Environment: Desktop, a GUI variant that runs on top of a computer OS and consists entirely of free and open source software.

KDE is a desktop environment with an integrated set of cross-platform applications for Linux, Windows, Solaris and Mac.


Free software

Free software





GNOME Project





Minimum system requirements

800 MHz processor, 770 MB RAM

1GHz processor, 650MB RAM

Design Goals

Desktop designed from top to bottom for simplicity, accessibility, internationalization and localization.

Universal framework that allows you to perform everyday tasks without using a command line interface.


Intuitive and attractive desktop for users.

Experience freedom.





Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena

Mathias Ettrich


Compiling Apps software

Compiling KDE software

These Gnome vs KDE comparisons will help users fine-tune systems for user tasks.

Plasma Space KDE

Plasma Space KDE
Plasma Space KDE

In many ways, KDE (K Desktop Environment) is similar to Windows, so users feel at home when using it. As in Win OS, they access the menu by clicking on the left side of the panel. The software has one menu bar at the bottom of the screen, it can be changed at the user's request. With Plasma Workspaces, KDE is the most attractive of all Linux desktops.

Although KDE is sleeker in appearance and has more options than GNOME 2.x, XFCE or LXDE, it is also more resource intensive. On the other hand, it requires less system resources than Unity and less RAM than GNOME 3. Like Gnome, it has many applications used on the desktop, with names beginning with the letter K. For example, Konqueror is web browser and file manager, and KStars is a desktop extension. Just like KDE or Gnome applications can be used in other environments. OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS andMandriva are the main Linux distributions where KDE is used in its major releases. Kubuntu is the version of Ubuntu. All things considered, KDE is an excellent desktop environment that is definitely worth choosing.

Full Desktop XFCE

Full Desktop XFCE
Full Desktop XFCE

Less resource intensive than KDE or Gnome, XFCE is a great choice for older computers, it is still a complete desktop environment that offers a lot of user experience and strikes a good balance between functionality and saving system resources with a beautiful desktop. In appearance, the newly released version resembles Mac OS X with its dock-like bar at the bottom of the desktop, more functional than Gnome, KDE and Lxde.

Eight reasons to use Xfce:

  1. Lightweight construction. It takes up very little memory space and uses a CPU compared to some other desktops like KDE or Gnome. Very low CPU usage is also its hallmark.
  2. Simplicity. The desktop is simple and not overloaded with icons. The main variant has two panels and a vertical line of icons on the left side. Panel 0 is at the bottom and consists of several basic launchers, as well as the Applications icon, which provides access to them on the system. Removable drives can be hidden or shown as a group.
  3. File management. Thunar, Xfce's default file manager, is easy to use, set up and learn. Although he's not that goodlike file managers Konqueror or Dolphin, but quite capable of competing with them in terms of script processing speed.
  4. Stability. New releases are on a three-year cycle, although updates are provided as needed. The great nature of the Xfce desktop is very reassuring after the problems with KDE. It never spawns daemons that consume system resources.
  5. Elegance. Simplicity is the reason why Xfce is very stable, characterized by a responsive interface and an easy-to-navigate structure that lends an overall natural elegance and makes it a pleasure to use.
  6. Terminal emulation uses tabs to enable multiple terminals in one window, shared with other emulators. It's simple compared to Tilix, Terminator and Konsole, but does the job very well.
  7. Configurability. Configuration applications are available separately, but for easy access to the Settings Manager, it collects them all in one window.
  8. Modularity. Xfce has several separate projects that make up a single whole, but not all parts of it are installed by the distribution kit.

Fast and modern LXDE

Fast and modern LXDE
Fast and modern LXDE

LXQt is the next modern desktop of the popular lightweight Linux environment. It is used to power on low end Ubuntu computers. This is a classic desktop with minimal system requirements based on Qt. The use of LXQt is made possible by the unification of the initiativeQt LXDE and the famous Razor-qt projects. LXQt - lightweight, modular, incredibly fast and user-friendly environment, has become more in demand than KDE, Gnome and Xfce

The LXQt development team has come up with a beautiful and easy-to-use desktop environment that replaces the heavier and more complex DEs. Many of the kernel changes are adapted from the previous Razor-qt (0.5.2) and the initial LXDE port of Qt. A complete overhaul of the PCManFM file manager, improvements to system settings, new modular components, and continued progress in supporting both Qt5 and the Wayland mapping protocol have made the shell more feature-packed than KDE, Gnome, and Xfce.

Lubuntu Daily PPA takes on the required packages for LXQt, including a meta package for easy installation. The DE can be installed along with the normal version of LXDE. It is better to try DE in a virtual machine to understand the principles of functionality and opportunities for work. Full Qt dependencies will be installed in LXQt, so a very good internet connection is required for verification.

GNOME operation priorities

GNOME Operation Priorities
GNOME Operation Priorities

Built from free and open source software, GNOME has focused on freedom, accessibility, internationalization, localization, developer friendliness, organization and support from the beginning. It is supported by a large community of developers who provide a six-month release schedule for a new product.

In the default configuration, GNOME uses a top bar withaction button, clock, system status control and user menu. Overview provides quick access and switching between open windows and applications. It aims to use as few system resources as possible and offers an easy-to-use interface that is friendly to novice Linux users. Although it offers advanced settings to customize your environment, experienced users find its interface somewhat restrictive.

In default settings, GNOME places a toolbar at the top and a pop-up bar with large app icons on the left side of the screen that appears when the mouse pointer is over its location.

Original color scheme: dark grey, orange and purple. GNOME hides customization options in multiple layers of interface lists in the System Preferences control panel to optimize the basic user experience.

Versatility of Cinnamon Medium

The versatility of the Cinnamon environment
The versatility of the Cinnamon environment

Linux Mint Cinnamon (Cinnamon) is a version of the desktop shell used by thousands of users, which is available for download and has significant improvements in services, its new features are more optimal than those of Gnome, KDE, Lxde and Xfce. Clement Lefebvre has released a new Cinnamon desktop environment feature pack:

  1. Mozjs support 38.
  2. Support for new Wacom devices.
  3. Daemon Multi-process configuration, creates conditions when each plugin works in its ownown process.
  4. Closing a session is instant, just like Linux Gnome or KDE.
  5. Separate processes for Nemo and desktop management.
  6. Easier date formats.
  7. Desktop actions implemented in the launcher, increasing mouse support in Firefox and Nemo.
  8. New configuration options for splash screen.
  9. More information is displayed in application and desktop environment dialogs, similar to Ubuntu KDE and Gnome environments.
  10. Improvements in support and customization of mouse acceleration and sensitivity.
  11. Added new features and tools to effectively communicate with the LightDM session manager.

Enhanced privacy systems

Enhanced privacy systems
Enhanced privacy systems

Tails promoted by Edward Snowden is based on Debian, is a distribution ready to run from USB or DVD. Tails connects to TOR as soon as Xfce, Gnome, KDE and Cinnamon start up and all Internet connections are made through this network.

Kali Linux is a Debian-based distribution with a huge set of hardware security tools. It uses its own security patched kernel and supports ARM architecture.

BlackArch is a security-focused Linux distribution that originally started as an extension of Arch Linux but went its own way. This gives users access to a significant number of hacking tools, including Sploit Ctl, a script that allows you to install, update, andlook for slots for Gnome, KDE, Xfce, Lxde, Mate and Cinnamon.

Arch Assault is a new distribution, also based on Arch Linux similar to the previous one, also designed for hackers and anonymity lovers. Minimalist desktop, with Openbox window manager, accompanied by Tint2 panel, offers support for ARM architectures.

OS Fine Specialization

For users with a particular interest in science, technology or culture, there is a comprehensive software solution for Gnome, KDE and Cinnamon.

Distro Astro is based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS using the MATE desktop environment and is a complete set of applications for astronomy lovers.

SteamOS, a Debian-based distribution developed by Valve, is a media center for video games that integrates a larger image mode than a desktop system.

ArtistX is a media oriented distribution for use in LiveDVD and USB format, it installs on any computer. Uses the KDE shell and offers a collection of open source video and 2D/3D graphics software.

Ubuntu Studio - focused on professional multimedia publishing and graphics. It uses the Xfce desktop and does not come pre-installed with office software that is designed for media editing.

Scientific Linux is a binary-level clone of the Red Hat Enterprise shell developed and maintained by the physics labs CERN and Fermilab to create a dedicated operating system for scientificcalculations.

Cheeld is an OpenSUSE-based distribution that uses the KDE environment and is aimed at electronic engineers and students of this speci alty, allowing them to design and simulate electronic circuits.

Edubuntu is another derivative of Ubuntu, but this time specifically for schools and teachers. Offers a wide range of software and educational tools, a good option to install on the computers of the little ones from home.

Openelec is a small Linux distribution built from the ground up to turn your computer into a Kodi-based media center formerly known as XBMC. It delivers what it promises and only needs 90-125MB of onboard storage. Apart from the official version, it has two other packages for Raspberry Pi and Apple TV.

Online distribution selection

Installing Linux on a computer is a step that many users take for several reasons. First, it is a free operating system, unlike Microsoft. Second, there are many flavors of Linux, so it can sometimes be hard to decide which is the best.

Ubuntu and all its flavors, Mint, Debian, OpenSUSE and various desktop environments can be difficult to understand and choose. In order to help with the choice, there are online assistants. You can, for example, make an online selection on the Distrochooser website. To do this, you will need to fill out a short form, and the extension will help you choose the Linux distribution that best suits your needs.

This website is in Englishlanguage, but an online translator will help the user answer questions. All of them apply to the computer on which you plan to install the distribution. If you are using an older computer, the system will offer a lightweight Linux distribution of KDE, Gnome and Centos, including those based on Android.

If the user decides to try multiple versions, it is possible to create a LiveUSB with multiple versions in the same Pendrive. Dual booting is also easy if you want to install Linux without removing Windows from your computer.

Comparison chart

comparison table
comparison table

Although Windows is still the most used operating system in the world. In recent years, the use of Linux has increased significantly. The number of distributions available online is growing, each with unique qualities and characteristics that make it different from others. Brief comparison of desktops.



KDE Plasma





3, 20



4, 12

~ 0.8.2





Abiword Gnumeric Orage

Abiword Gnumeric

Web browser

Fire Fox

Konqueror Firefox QupZilla

Fire Fox

Fire Fox


Music player






Photo Manager






Image Viewer

Eye of the Gnome


Eye of the Gnome



Text editor






File Manager






It is difficult to collect all distributions in one place and choose the best, so this table summarizes the main differences between the main shells so that the user can choose them according to the task that needs to be performed on a personal computer.

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