"...Both KDE and GNOME comprise integrated desktop
environments. End users see a consistent set of interface widgets
and a set of interoperable clients for editing documents, reading
mail and news, Web surfing, and other common tasks. Both have
attempted to make the user interface intuitive. The native user
interfaces resemble enough the familiar desktop metaphor that they
are navigable at least by experienced users schooled on the Windows
desktop. Both also use the concept of themes for customization.
This allows the developer to provide the capability for the end
user to change the look from, for example, a Motif to a Windows
look and feel or to introduce new looks.
On the development side, various thumbnail comparisons cite KDE
as more developed and stable and GNOME as more customizable. KDE,
despite being developed by scores of contributors in the open
source tradition and perhaps because of its head start, is a more
integrated system of parts working together. GNOME, by contrast,
does not, for example, have its own window manager but works with
several different ones produced in the open-source community.
KDE is written in C++ and GNOME in C, but both have language
bindings, respectively, to C and C++ as well as to a number of
other languages. As KDE, GNOME, and Motif all have the X Window
System as their base layer, programs written with any can run
together on one system and within the opposite desktop environment
but not without conflicts introduced at the higher layers.
Interoperability is now receiving a lot of developer attention.
Developers from both camps have worked cooperatively on such GUI
details as making sure that when color settings are changed for a
GNOME program, for example, they will propagate to a KDE program.
One project is working on a standard for a so-called thumbnail
picture standard for file managers."