top - 21:23:44 up 2 days,  6:21,  3 users,  load average: 0.29, 0.33, 0.34
Tasks: 136 total,   1 running, 135 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
Cpu(s):  5.3%us,  1.7%sy,  0.0%ni, 92.7%id,  0.0%wa,  0.3%hi,  0.0%si,  0.0%st
Mem:   1545856k total,  1311596k used,   234260k free,   172172k buffers
Swap:  3229024k total,    38256k used,  3190768k free,   556592k cached

  PID USER      PR  NI  VIRT  RES  SHR S %CPU %MEM    TIME+  COMMAND            
 7241 alex      20   0  128m  44m  27m S    3  3.0   3:05.88 amarokapp          
 5402 root      20   0  434m  78m  10m S    3  5.2  86:52.57 Xorg               
 5795 alex      20   0 24700  17m 6712 S    2  1.2  10:54.86 compiz.real        
 5695 alex      20   0 87108  30m  16m S    1  2.0   2:24.92 gnome-panel        
10925 alex      20   0 83064  19m  10m S    1  1.3   0:00.40 gnome-terminal     
10948 alex      20   0  2388 1156  860 R    1  0.1   0:00.04 top                
10821 alex      20   0  206m  62m  23m S    0  4.1   0:20.92 firefox-bin        
    1 root      20   0  1804  820  596 S    0  0.1   0:01.44 init               
    2 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 [B]kthreadd[/B]           
    3 root      RT  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.64 migration/0        
    4 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:03.32 [B]ksoftirqd[/B]/0        
    5 root      RT  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 watchdog/0         
    6 root      RT  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.18 migration/1        
    7 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.38 [B]ksoftirqd[/B]/1        
    8 root      RT  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 watchdog/1         
    9 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:01.56 events/0           
   10 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.90 events/1
top - 21:30:29 up 2 days,  6:28,  3 users,  load average: 0.00, 0.10, 0.22
Tasks: 129 total,   1 running, 128 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
Cpu(s):  4.8%us,  0.6%sy,  0.0%ni, 94.3%id,  0.2%wa,  0.0%hi,  0.0%si,  0.0%st
Mem:   1545856k total,  1297280k used,   248576k free,   172448k buffers
Swap:  3229024k total,    38256k used,  3190768k free,   559120k cached

  PID USER      PR  NI  VIRT  RES  SHR S %CPU %MEM    TIME+  COMMAND            
11332 alex      20   0  2384 1060  776 R    4  0.1   0:00.02 top                
10378 alex      20   0  119m  32m  19m S    2  2.2   0:15.48 pidgin             
    1 root      20   0  1804  820  596 S    0  0.1   0:01.44 init               
    2 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 [B]kthreadd[/B]           
    3 root      RT  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.64 migration/0        
    4 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:03.34 [B]ksoftirqd[/B]/0        
    5 root      RT  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 watchdog/0         
    6 root      RT  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.18 migration/1        
    7 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.38 [B]ksoftirqd[/B]/1        
    8 root      RT  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 watchdog/1         
    9 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:01.58 events/0           
   10 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.90 events/1           
   11 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.00 [B]khelper[/B]            
   48 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.52 [B]kblockd[/B]/0          
   49 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.06 [B]kblockd[/B]/1          
   52 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:00.46 [B]kacpid[/B]             
   53 root      15  -5     0    0    0 S    0  0.0   0:01.52 [B]kacpi_notify[/B]

I've noticed that top shows many different KDE processes running in a GNOME environment. Is this bad? Can I get GNOME to use mainly GNOME processes for these tasks?

The 'k' prefix actually doesn't refer to 'KDE', it refers to 'kernel'. Those are various kernel daemons meant for handling threads, ACPI, APIC, IRQ, etc. and cannot be killed.

commented: Thanks for the help. +3

and just for reference, gnome runs some KDE stuff to make KDE apps run nicely.

commented: Thanks for the GNOME/KDE reference. +3

Thank you, John A and jbennet!