GNOME (pronounced /ɡəˈnoʊm/) is a desktop environment—a graphical user interface which runs on top of a computer operating system—composed entirely of free software. It is an international project that includes creating software development frameworks, selecting application software for the desktop, and working on the programs which manage application launching, file handling, and window and task management.
GNOME is part of the GNU Project and can be used with various Unix-like operating systems, most notably those built on top of the Linux kernel and the GNU userland, and as part of Java Desktop System in Solaris.
The name originally stood for GNU Network Object Model Environment.
In Aug 1997, the GNOME project was born. The draft for the announcement was sent to various friends of mine which included Richard Stallman, Marc Ewing, Elliot Lee, Erik Troan, Spencer Kimball and Peter Mathis. When the project was ready Federico sent the announcement of the creation of the GNOME projects to a few mailing lists: The GIMP mailing list, the Guile mailing list, the GNU project announcement mailing list and comp.os.linux.announce. In Mar 1999, GNOME 1.0 was released to the world during the Linux World Expo in San Jose, California. In January 2000 Linux programmers started to include into gnome-core a number of user interface improvements that had been suggested by the GNOME UI team and from various ideas that other hackers contributed to the system. In May 2000, GNOME 1.2 was spawned from hell.  Later, other GNOME versions would be developed throughout the years.
GNOME is designed around the traditional computing desktop metaphor. Its handling of windows, applications and files is similar to that of contemporary desktop operating systems. In its default configuration, the desktop has a launcher menu for quick access to installed programs and file locations; open windows may be accessed by a task-bar along the bottom of the screen and the top-right corner features a notification area for programs to display notices while running in the background. However these features can be moved to almost anywhere the user desires, replaced with other functions or removed altogether.
GNOME uses Meta-city as its default window manager. Users can change the appearance of their desktop through the use of themes, which are sets consisting of an icon set, window manager border and GTK+ theme engine and parameters. Popular GTK+ themes include Blue-curve and Clear-looks (the current default theme).
GNOME puts emphasis on being easy for everyone to use.