10 Ways KDE Is a Better Linux Desktop Than GNOME

Bertel King 28-03-2018

With so many popular Linux operating systems invested in the GNOME ecosystem (such as Ubuntu and Fedora), it’s easy to overlook KDE.


But there are many reasons to give this desktop environment a try. If you do, you might walk away with a new favorite way to use Linux.

1. An Interface That’s What You Want It to Be

GNOME shell, KDE - better linux desktop

The KDE Plasma desktop behaves like plasma, as in it molds into whatever shape you like. The default layout feels familiar if you’re coming from Windows, but the resemblance is only skin deep. You can move or delete every component on the bottom panel. You can create more panels, place them on any side of the screen, or do without them entirely.

There is an abundance of widgets that serve as your building blocks. Turn the default task manager into a dock. Swap out the digital clock for an analog one. And even then, you’re just getting started.

Want big window borders? Want no window borders? Want to roll windows up into the titlebar like you did in the pre-Mac OS X days? Want to alt-tab through windows like cards? Want your close button on the left instead of the right? More than any other desktop, Plasma is what you want it to be KDE Explained: A Look at Linux's Most Configurable Desktop Interface What does Linux look like? Sometimes, Unity; other times, GNOME. Oftentimes, though, Linux runs KDE. If you're not using the erstwhile K Desktop Environment on your Linux PC, now is the time to change! Read More .


2. The Same Is True for Apps

apps - better linux desktop

KDE apps are no less customizable. At first, they follow the traditional desktop software paradigm. You have a titlebar, a menubar, and toolbars filled with icons and options. Thing is, KDE lets you change all of that.

Want your apps to have a traditional menubar underneath the title? That’s the default. But if you view that text as a waste of space, you can tuck that menu inside a button in the titlebar. Or you can have a macOS or Ubuntu Unity-style global menu at the top of the screen.

Want to type in an empty text window with no toolbars of any kind? You’re free to get rid of everything. Alternatively, you can keep toolbars but change all of the icons. This way the options you need most are the ones within easy reach.


KDE software settings aren’t limited to appearance. Many apps keep options that developers on other desktops often feel aren’t worth supporting. This can make settings confusing to navigate, but there’s a greater chance you can make an app do what you want.

3. KDE Software Is Powerful

KDE software - better linux desktop

KDE Plasma feels like a powerful desktop. The Dolphin file manager isn’t lacking in speed, features, or options. The Gwenview image viewer displays thumbnails in a hurry and can perform edits. The system as a whole doesn’t feel bogged down by simple tasks. While many GNOME apps are burning resources trying to re-do the basics, Plasma feels ready to take on the harder tasks.

digiKam is arguably the best photo manager the Linux desktop has to offer. The same can be said for Kdenlive and video editors. Want to create digital artwork? You might want to consider Krita. KDE has one of the few open source office suites attempting to rival LibreOffice: Calligra. KDE Connect is the best way to sync your smartphone with your Linux PC Using KDE Connect to Sync your Android Device with Your Linux Computer Have you ever wished your Android devices and your Linux computers worked together more seamlessly? KDE Connect is something you should check out because it alleviates the headaches of the multi-device experience. Read More .


Then there’s Krunner, an immensely fast way to search for files and launch apps.

For years now, KDE has suffered from the lack of a competent web browser. Now that Falkon (formerly QupZilla) has become an official KDE project, this is changing.

4. KDE Is Surprisingly Fast

Among Linux ecosystems, it’s fair to think of both GNOME and KDE as heavy. They’re complete desktop environments with plenty of moving parts compared to lighter alternatives Should You Use a Window Manager as Your Desktop Environment? The Linux desktop is hugely configurable, from themes to a whole new environment. And if you want a lightweight desktop experience, you can even use a window manager as your desktop environment. Read More . But when it comes to which is faster, looks can be deceptive.

Despite its glossy themes and widgets galore, KDE feels to me like a snappier experience. Under GNOME, whether it’s due to extensions, search indexing, or some other shenanigans, I’m not surprised to find the entire system occasionally slowing down. On the Plasma desktop, I’ve had apps crash, but they don’t slow down the entire computer while they’re at it.


I’m not saying KDE is objectively faster. There are simply too many aspects to consider, ranging from the hardware you’re using to the way your distro packages each desktop environment. But my impression has changed since I first switched to Linux during KDE’s 4.0 days. GNOME may look like a lighter system, but to me, it no longer feels that way.

5. More Parts of Your System Are Accessible

KDE system settings - better linux desktop

Changing the login screen in GNOME is not a straightforward task. When I switch to an alternate theme, I tend to accept that the lock screen also won’t quite match.

In KDE, you can change the login screen via System Settings. You can tweak the lock screen as well. While you’re at it, why not tinker with non-KDE elements like the GRUB bootloader? Not having to open a terminal or edit files in a text editor makes this easier to do in KDE than GNOME.

6. KDE Has Better App Integration

App integration is a weak spot for GNOME. If an app fully integrates with the GNOME desktop, then it likely looks out of place in other environments (except for perhaps elementary OS). Older GNOME apps that haven’t embraced its current design language The Differences Between Linux's Human Interface Guidelines Ever encountered a Linux app that looks ugly and seems unusable? It's why desktops have human interface guidelines. Windows and macOS have these guidelines. What about Linux? Read More look out of place too. The same is true of non-GNOME apps that still use the GIMP Toolkit (GTK+), such as GIMP and LibreOffice.

This is much less of an issue in KDE. Not only do modern KDE apps look fine, but so do many apps that haven’t received an update in years. GTK apps like GIMP and LibreOffice, which use traditional menubars, also fit right in on the Plasma desktop.

7. It’s Easy to Get More Stuff on KDE

KDE wallpapers - better linux desktop

In GNOME, when you want more extensions, you go to GNOME Extensions in a browser. This is similar to how things work in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

KDE has the KDE Store, but you don’t have to open a browser to get there. Integration is baked directly into your desktop. It’s not limited to extensions, either. You can also download widgets and desktop wallpapers the same way.

The Plasma desktop may seem complex at times, but it’s features like this that make it simpler than the alternatives. Unlike other desktops, you don’t have to open a browser and research where to find add-ons for your desktop.

Instead, these things are a mouse-click away.

8. KDE Isn’t as Influenced by Trends

KDE folders - better linux desktop

Computers have changed over the years. Many desktop interfaces have changed to suit touchscreens and mobile devices. If you were happy with how computers used to be, these can be frustrating times.

KDE Plasma is what you make it. The default layout feels like a traditional Windows experience. Apps still have menubars. Windows have titlebars. You can alter the interface to look like elementary OS, macOS, or a Chromebook, but that degree of change is your decision to make.

The same is true of apps. KGet is a standalone download manager. KMail is a good old-fashioned email client. If you want to use an RSS reader without needing an online account, Akregator has you covered.

If your idea of progress is gaining new features and functionality without giving up the old way of doing things, KDE can make for a comfortable home.

9. KDE Plasma Is Built on Impressive Code

The KDE Plasma desktop and apps are all written in Qt. This is a platform-agnostic language that is also heavily used on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. This makes it easy to port KDE technologies.

Plasma is also in some ways a more advanced creation than most other desktops. Not only can you easily tailor the interface to your own tastes, but developers can easily tweak Plasma to suit different form factors. Plasma Mobile, which targets smartphones, doesn’t require developers to create so much code from scratch.

This is part of the reason the Purism plans to have Plasma Mobile up and running before GNOME on its crowdfunded Librem 5 phone. (Both of these are Linux interfaces that support the PinePhone also.) KDE has also created Kirigami, the interface used in apps like Discover that can adjust to smaller screens.

10. KDE Embodies Freedom

Providing users with freedom is at the core of the KDE ethos. There have been stumbles along the way. The transition to KDE 4 several years ago did not go smoothly.

But on the whole, KDE empowers people to use their desktop how they want and to give them the tools to do so. The community also openly advocates for privacy and the values of free software in a way other projects often shy away from Ubuntu to Collect Your PC Data: What This Means for You Canonical has announced that upcoming versions of Ubuntu will collect data about the PCs they're installed on and the way they're used. Read More . As KDE notes in its vision for the future:

“In a world where our privacy is increasingly threatened, we wanted to emphasize its importance. Freedom without the right to privacy is no freedom at all.”

Most other desktop interfaces leave you waiting for someone else to implement the feature or change you want to see. In Plasma, there’s a good chance you can make this happen on your own. It’s all just a matter of finding out where the setting is buried.

The Best Reasons to Use KDE Over GNOME

This much freedom can be distracting, I’ll admit. And there’s something to be said for providing software with great design, even if that comes at the cost of features and options. It takes time to tweak your desktop to feel just right, time that could be spent on other things. The features that make KDE great aren’t immediately obvious.

But the more you use KDE, the more you learn how to do, and the more you find to love 5 Awesome KDE Plasma Tweaks You Should Try Today Efficiency is key to becoming productive. The KDE Plasma desktop environment offers a nice selection of simple tweaks that will turn you into a KDE efficiency rock star. Here are five to get you started. Read More .

Explore more about: GNOME Shell, KDE, Linux Desktop Environment.

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  1. Desther
    March 6, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    I recently switched to Linux desktop after 10 years of Windows experience where i hated Microsoft more with every new release of Windows. The transition wasnt very smooth. I chose Ubuntu Gnome as i thought the default environment should be feature rich, complete and stable - and i was pretty disappointed... I didnt really liked the taste and i experienced a lot of crashes of its apps. I started to hesitate whether i made the right choice as this felt really unpolished and i like to work without distractions from OS failures or terrible design choices (that is why i left Windows after all). I wasnt really prepared to turn my back on Linux desktop yet so i started digging and discovered KDE (Kubuntu) which looked pretty fine so i installed the environment (i was amazed how easy that is on Ubuntu/Linux) and i instantly fell in love. It was just SO MUCH configurable, not just with comparison to GNOME, but overall - its like you can tweak almost anything there. Also i love KDE apps like Krusader, KDE Connect and few more. And more importantly, it is stable! I didnt experienced single crash of any application there. Please note that i have very powerful gaming rig with huge amount of RAM, fast CPU/GPU etc so lack of resources was never even remotely on the table. Now i am finally confident i can stay on Linux desktop (with Windows dual boot for ocassional gaming). Still i am not sure if i would recommend Linux desktop to non-IT professionals or anyone who fear the terminal. Despite all its efforts the Linux desktop is still for advanced users and terminal is near mandatory.

  2. Michael Biller
    December 2, 2018 at 6:57 am

    KDE has always been pretty advanced but also racked with issues. For most, the KDE desktop environment has been a beautiful, buggy mess. It did not appear things had changed much when Plasma 5 was introduced.

    Then things did change. Big time. KDE Plasma is now one of the most stable environments around. Resource consumption rivals that of lightweight environments. I use openSUSE Krypton and KDE Neon and both use less than 700 Mbytes of RAM upon booting.

    Similar numbers were recorded during tests of Maui, Netrunner, PCLinuxOS, and Manjaro KDE. That Plasma manages to keep resource consumption to such a minimum and bring the bling it does is amazing.

    My other favorite distro and desktop environment, Deepin 15.8 manages to perform the same trick. Hats off to the developers. They are on point and in the zone and it's evident in the fruits of their labor.

    Great article and I agree with every point. The year of the Linux desktop never officially arrived but for those of us using Linux, it most definitely has.

  3. Gnatogryz
    November 23, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Gnome 3's philosophy of removing features just for the sake of being different would be acceptable if it provided a performance benefit.
    But somehow, it's much slower than KDE. I am using a pretty low spec pc, so the difference is immediately noticeable.
    Memory leaks, crashes, removal of system tray, gimped multitasking, removal of desktop icons... They even removed backspace hotkey from nautilus!
    Gnome's motto should be "if it ain't broke, break it."

  4. Friar Tux
    September 23, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    Nope. I hearitly disagree, Bertel. I WAS a KDE fan until about two years ago. (Used to be, I wouldn't run a distro if it didn't have KDE.) KDE, today, is way too bloated. A lot of the K programmes are glitchy or don't work at all. And I absolutely do not like Gnome. It makes my laptop look ridiculously like a giant cell phone. My DE of choice is Cinnamon. Quite nice and very configurable.

    • bravo8whiskey
      January 3, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      I agree with this 100%. My experience with KDE years ago left a bad taste in my mouth. It's been about 8 years or so since I've given it a shot, so I just recently installed Mint 19 with KDE in a VM to give it another chance. Same buggy mess as always. The only benefit I see for KDE is eye candy. I'm more interested in a functional system.

      Gnome can't make up its mind as to what it wants to be, so that's a no-go for me as well.

      I absolutely adore Cinnamon. It just works and is highly customizable with eye candy that rivals anything KDE offers. I've been using Mint with Cinnamon as a sysadmin exclusively for the last 5 years. It's a treat.

  5. Rohit Chaurasiya
    March 30, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Maintain your emails positive E mails with a negative tone will fetch the recipient down. If you maintain the e-mail favorable they might feel likely to have back for your requirements or full your process.

  6. Mehrzad Bazhdanzadeh
    March 29, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Yeah KDE has all of that, but think of people who want to use Linux as just an operating system. Great you have now created somany confusing functionalities. The reason I don't like KDE. But gnome... Well it is customizable, and it is also fast, and it is minimal, where I won't be bothered with changing a lot of features which are already so good. No annoying task bars, beautiful login shell, customizable theme and add-ons for more features on the desktop. Who wouldn't also want Gnome. But TBH I love Deepin way more than both of them.

  7. Zhong
    March 29, 2018 at 3:00 am

    I install a minimal KDE workspace on my BSD machine. There's no dolphin/Konqueror file manager, all is done on the terminal. Firefox opens up any image/pdf files, video playback is handled by VLC, text editor is done in terminal using easyeditor and I haven't ran into a need of using a graphical front end of browsing files since it's much more responsible to do on a xterm (X11 default) which Konsole isn't installed.

  8. Adam
    March 28, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    I recently switched over to KDE, and I really like it. A few things I noticed coming from the Gnome 3 environment: 1) Gnome apps don't always look their best until you go into some very obscure settings. Then, they look just fine. 2) Using Geary for email, Firefox for a browser and 3 tabs open along with OnlyOffice uses 1GB of RAM "LESS" than Gnome does (on my machine, of course) 3) Dolphin File Manager opens about as slowly as Nautilus, but the trade-off is acceptable. Dolphin gives you more features out of the box than Nautilus. 4) If you edit a Root Accessible file in Kate, you don't have to open a Terminal and "gksu gedit ". You open the file in Kate, and if you try to save it you are are prompted to put in your password while using Kate to allow permission to make the change. Nice! Other permissions using the Contextual Menu for folders is much easier than Nautilus, too. I like what KDE has done, and I'm a convert. It goes great with Antergos, too.

  9. Linux_Guy
    March 28, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    If you're going to fanboy over KDE, the least you can do is be unbiased enough to post similar articles about how Gnome is better than KDE, or how Mate is better than Cinnamon, etc.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      March 28, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      Who says we won't? But if we do, we wouldn't post them all at once. I've written a series of posts explaining various Linux desktop environments (starting with GNOME), and they're each months apart.

      • Linux_Guy
        March 29, 2018 at 3:25 pm

        Never said you wouldn't. Only that doing others would help you not seem biased. I'm not saying you can't be biased personally, only that it's best to provide as unbiased as possible articles so that people can make up their own minds.

      • Michael Biller
        February 26, 2019 at 6:20 am

        I am a huge fan of KDE. I have no fault with Gnome other than its just not for me. My fondness for KDE aside, I am also a big fan of Deepin and a fan of the Xfce desktop environment. Cinnamon, too.

        I recently started checking out some distributions (new & old) that use Xfce and some like MakuluLinux Core, MX-Linux, and Modicia O.S have been mind blowing. What is being done with Xfce these days is amazing. Some of these have tweaked the Xfce environment in ways that make it seem like something totally new.

        I love your articles and maybe you could check out the distributions I mentioned and see if they are worthy of a post. The Xfce desktop environment is for sure. It is very customizable, like Plasma, and has some eye candy of its own.

        • stOneskull
          May 6, 2019 at 8:16 am

          There are some fantastic things about Xfce. I think it's the best of the lightweights (ie. Mate and LX). Even something simple like having a different wallpaper for each workspace is a nice feature. Very customizable, has many cool add-ons and is very stable.

          I've been an Xfce fan for years, mainly because of necessity, because of computers with limited resources. Now with a fancier laptop, I am in love with KDE. And it isn't even that much hungrier than Xfce really, which is kind of amazing.

  10. Ryan
    March 28, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Great article, /agree

  11. Antonio
    March 28, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I tried KDE one time when started distro hoping and did not see any real advantages at first. When Ubuntu drop Unity and there was a discussion of substitute a lot people supported KDE I tried again and was amazed by the possibilities, freedom for you to choose the best way you want your DE. Plasma is fast, low resource consumption compared to gnome and has a lot of good applications.
    I really recommend to give it a try.