The one thing that significantly held back the wide acceptance of the excellent KDE desktop was the fact that it used the QT+ toolkit for its graphical user interface development. For many years this toolkit did not meet the requirements of the General Public License (GPL) and so could not legally be included in many distributions. Indeed, because of this the Gnome project was begun. By September 2000 when it was announced that the new version of QT+ (2.2) would be released under the GPL Gnome was already catching up to KDE in its development and many of the major Unix players had decided to adopt Gnome.
Nonetheless, KDE remains a good alternative to Gnome providing a collection of well developed applications. It should be noted though that all of these applications can run under any desktop, including Gnome (but perhaps losing some functionality such as drag-and-drop between applications). And, conversely, Gnome applications can also run under KDE. The significance of the desktop is the look and feel of the associated applications and underneath how they inter-operate. Otherwise they are simple X Window System applications and can run whether you are running the corresponding desktop application or not.
We will review some of the KDE applications as alternatives to the related Gnome application in the relevant chapters of this book.