By 1997, there had long been graphical Unix and Linux graphical user interface (GUI) desktops, but none of them had gathered much support. KDE, which was destined to become a major desktop, had started in 1996, but it was still facing opposition for its use of the Qt license. The GNOME Project, founded by Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena Quintero on August 15, 1997, was created to build a GUI without the use of any non-General Public License (GPL) software. Thus, a struggle began between the two Linux desktops, which continues to this day.
Since the initial release of GNOME 1.0 in 1999, there have been 33 stable releases. That first release would set the framework for all future versions. It was based on the GIMP ToolKit (GTK+). Then, and now, GNOME offered a friendly platform for developers and supported many programming languages. Its libraries are available for any application under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). GNOME’s applications are available under the GPL.
GNOME is more than just a desktop. It’s a complete family of desktop applications. These include the Evolution, email client; AbiWord, a word-processor; and Epiphany, a web browser.
For many years, KDE and GNOME would struggle over Linux desktop domination. While there were other significant early Linux GUIs — GNUStep (aka OpenStep), Xfce, and Enlightment — GNOME and KDE would dominate Linux for many years.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht