GNOME versus KDE in handheld devices

Posted by javi vazquez on August 30, 2006

GNOME versus KDE…

Although GNOME and KDE collaborates in many ways to promote the use of free software desktop platforms, for example improving their interoperability with, the truth is that they compete to gain market share.

This battle is not only held in PCs desktops or Linux distros. Linux is becoming an important player in handheld devices also. Sometimes these Linux based handheld devices need a richer graphical interface, so it’s time to choose between the two most popular ones: GNOME and KDE.

…Maemo versus Qtopia…

Maemo is the application development platform supported by Nokia and, so far, only used for the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. Maemo relies on Linux (Debian) and GNOME (GTK+) technologies.

Qtopia is the application development platform supported by Trolltech, the private company that leads the development of Qt libraries, foundation of KDE project.

Regarding handheld devices using Linux, GNOME versus KDE means nowadays Maemo versus Qtopia.

…Nokia 770 versus Sony Mylo

But, at the end, the success of a development platform is severelly tied to “whatever uses it”. Their future and success is not only related with technological issues, but mostly with the adoption of the products that relies on them.

So, and I am guessing, Nokia 770 versus Sony Mylo fight could be a light that guide the way ahead, GNOME and KDE future in handheld devices.


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  1. Juanjo Marin Wed, 30 Aug 2006 23:36:12 CET

    There is another enviroment based on GNU/Linux and GTK called GPE (GNU Palmtop Environment). See

    GPE is supported on a few handheld devices though the most famous is the sharp zaurus series.

    Anyway, you’re right that the battles is maemo vs. qtopia

  2. aruiz Thu, 31 Aug 2006 05:26:45 CET

    KDE is a community driven project, QTopia is a commercial product from Trolltech that is not free at all and has almost anything to do with KDE.

  3. jvazquez Thu, 31 Aug 2006 08:54:49 CET

    Hey Alberto!,

    KDE is a community driven project and QTopia is a commercial product, that’s totally true.

    However, both, KDE and QTopia, are based on Qt libraries:
    “Qtopia inherits the proven strengths of Qt, Trolltech’s industry-leading cross-platform application framework”

    From a *technological* point of view, Qtopia is based on KDE (Qt) and Maemo is based on GNOME (GTK+). So, there is a clear relation between Qtopia and KDE, equivalent to that between Maemo and GNOME.

  4. Alberto Ruiz Tue, 05 Sep 2006 10:18:09 CET

    The only common point between KDE and QTopia is the platform (QT), but the KDE project and QT have very different development model,

    KDE is not the same technology than QT is. KDE is an opensource unix oriented desktop platform developed on C++ and based on QT, QT is a dual licensed (GPL for GPL software and closed source for other licenses) cross platform development platform for GUI applications, QTopia is a handheld toolkit wich e and that share its roots with QT.

    From a *technological* point of view, Qtopia is based on QT, you won’t find a single line of code from the KDE project on QTopia.

    BTW, Maemo and GNOME shares a lot of technologies more than GTK+, we share GStreamer, DBus, python-gtk/gnome bindings, few applications etc… Maemo is an opensource development platform which is a fork from debian and GNOME to be adapted to the Nokia 770 handheld,

    Could you argue more common points between QTopia and KDE than

  5. Pep1974 Fri, 03 Nov 2006 14:57:31 CET

    It’s possible to Run QT applications in Nokia 770.
    You can see the demostration in this Video.

    I think that QT/Qtopia is the best plataform and Nokia 770 the best gadget!