The GNOME Desktop Environment

The GNOME desktop environment was conceived in 1999 as an alternative to KDE, with its roots in the GPL and LGPL. Like KDE, GNOME had the goal of providing modern, easy-to-use applications that work with each other and with existing X applications.

We’re going to give you a tour of GNOME the way it commonly looks, but you should be aware that it’s a general-purpose framework with really unlimited flexibility. For example, we show the current window manager, Sawfish, but you can install a different window manager with a completely different behavior and appearance. The GNOME libraries, as well as the X libraries, underlie all the components, and have appeared in command-line and even server-based applications as well as the graphical desktop. In addition, the GNOME project has developed some powerful applications in typical areas of office work, such as spreadsheets and address books. Any X application can run under GNOME (although it has to be written with the GNOME framework to use the most powerful desktop features, such as the virtual filesystem and themes). In particular, a lot of KDE applications work very nicely on GNOME, and vice versa.

Of course, for our purposes, the interesting parts are the core desktop and its associated applications. In the next sections, we’ll go over the GNOME look and feel, talk a little bit about the customization options it offers to you, and then give a quick tour of major applications, such as Evolution and Gnumeric. ...

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