GNUstep - A free implementation of the OpenStep standard
GNUstep provides an Object-Oriented application development framework
and toolset for use on a wide variety of computer platforms. GNUstep
is based on the original OpenStep specification provided by NeXT, Inc.
GNUstep is written in Objective-C, an object-oriented superset of the C
programming language, similar to SmallTalk. However there exist a
number of brigdes and interfaces to develop GNUstep programs using
other languages like JAVA or Ruby.
The GNUstep core system consists of the following parts, which are
jointly refered to as gnustep-core :
A set of scripts and makefiles that heavily ease the creation
and maintenance of software projects.
The FoundationKit libraries for non-GUI tools providing
everything from string and array classes, filemanager classes to
The ApplicationKit containing widgets, workspace classes and
means for applications to interact with the user. This is the
frontend of GNUstep’s GUI part.
This is the backend of GNUstep’s GUI part which does the actual
rendering and event handling. It acts as a layer between
gnustep-gui and the operating/drawing system. Backends exist for
X11 (one using cairo, one using libart, one using xlib drawing)
Apart from the above, there exist a number of addon libraries, like
Renaissance which allows developers to specify an application’s user
interface in xml. For database access, there is GDL2 - the GNUstep
Database Library. Please refer to the GNUstep website for more
GNUstep per default is self-contained. That means that all GNUstep
applications, tools, libraries and add-ons are installed into the
GNUstep directory hierarchy. However as of gnustep-make-2.0.0 it is
also possible to install everything in compliance with other filesystem
hierarchies. See the FilesystemLayouts directory in the source package
of gnustep-make for more information.
There are four domains which are searched for files: the System domain,
which should only contain the core system files, the Local domain which
stores all that has later been installed on the system, the Network
domain which should be used for importing data from a remote system,
and the User domain which resides in the user’s home directory (mostly
A complete description of the default GNUstep layout can be found in
TOOLS AND APPLICATIONS
In the world of GNUstep the term tool refers to command line programs
whereas applications are fully fledged GUI programs. Naturally, tools
reside in the domains’ Tools folder, applications can be found in the
domains’ Applications folder.
Applications are either launched using the openapp command or from the
In GNUstep applications globally offer functionality to other
applications through services. They can be reached through the
Services menu entry in an application’s main menu. Apart from services
offered by applications, there may be programs whose sole purpose is
the offering of services. They can be found in the domains’
The make_services tool makes sure the services are known to other
applications when a application is newly installed.
A bundle is a collection of resources making up a discrete package for
use. There are currently three types of bundles: applications,
frameworks and loadable bundles.
A loadable bundle is a kind of plug-in. There are two types of loadable
bundles, namely plug-ins and palettes. The plug-in is noramlly refered
to as a bundle, which can make it a bit confusing. A plug-in is a
bundle that can be loaded by an application to provide additional
functionality, while a palette is a plug-in for GORM, the interface
builder. A palette is used to extend GORM with custom UI objects.
Palettes have a .palette extension.
The central place of the user interface is the Workspace or Workspace
Manager which acts as an interface between the user and parts of the
system like files, processes, etc. The GWorkspace application provides
this functionality in GNUstep. See the GWorkspace website for more
What would a development environment be without the applications to
create applications? The applications provided by GNUstep for Rapid
Application Developement are:
GORM GORM is the interface modeler. With GORM you can quickly create
the graphical interface of your application.
Project Center is the program where you can develop your
program. It offers you automatic generation of GNUmakefiles ,
project maintenance and of course a code editor.
gcc(1), gdnc(1), gdomap(8), gopen(1), gpbs(1), make(1), openapp(1)
Official GNUstep website
GNUstep Wiki (lots of useful information)
GNUstep Project Page
GNUstep Documentation Library
Collaboration World, the home of GNUmail
The home of GWorkspace, JIGS, Renaissance and programming
Mailing lists and mailing list archives.
#GNUstep on FreeNode
You are invited to join the #GNUstep IRC channel on FreeNode
GNUstep was at first a collaboration of two projects that wanted to
create a single GNUstep project that complied to the OpenStep
specification provided by NeXT Computer, Inc. and SunSoft, Inc.
Development of this joint effort started around 1993-1994. For a more
detailed history description see the GNUstep Documentation Library
referenced in the SEE ALSO section.
GNUstep is developed and maintained by a large number of people. Please
see <http://www.gnustep.org/developers/whoiswho.html> for a list.
This man-page was first written by Martin Brecher <martin@mb-
itconsulting.com> in august of 2003.
In December 2007 it was expanded by Dennis Leeuw <email@example.com>
and made to comply with the gnustep-make-2.0.x releases.