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Re: The need for an official GNUstep desktop

From: Adrian Robert
Subject: Re: The need for an official GNUstep desktop
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2006 16:57:18 -0400

On Aug 27, 2006, at 3:23 PM, Gregory John Casamento wrote:


All of this discussion on the list has made my consider that GNUstep needs to resolve this confusion once and for all.   Are we a desktop or a development environment?   I believe that we can, and should, be both.   One of the steps we need to take towards doing this is the creation of another project which will be the official GNUstep desktop.

Up until now we've had 4 or 5 projects playing at being the official desktop in an effort to fill the void.

I believe that all of this is senseless duplication and that what we need is a *coordinated* effort towards making a cohesive and attractive GNUstep desktop environment.   We need to focus on what will make an exciting and easy experience for both users and developers.  Whether it is done in the same repository as GNUstep or in a separate one, that's up for debug.

Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas on the above?

We need a project that will pull together existing efforts, create an easy installation/update environment, and encourage effort towards helping out on existing apps. Because those existing apps really do a tremendous job of covering many desktop needs:

GWorkspace + appwrappers
(PDF Viewer)
(Image Viewer)
(various games, miscellaneous)
(and more: http://www.gnustep.org/experience/apps.html)

That's pretty much where GNOME was when it was first getting installed by default through the major linux distributions -- except there are more apps for GNUstep, they are more mature, and the framework is less buggy and more complete.

What would this new project look like? Adam's Startup is an excellent start ;). I just tried it today on a linux system, and it went smooth as butter. It checks for dependencies and gets the initial bootstrap system up and running. The next step, as Adam has mentioned, would be a graphical installer / updater that runs after this and allows the user to select/install apps. To support this, the apps need to provide source packages hosted at a central server.

To avoid dependency on any one distribution's package mechanism, the installer app would ideally include its own facility for querying the server for latest versions, and uninstalling/updating. Packages would need to be based on source code / GNUstep-make. This is not trivial work, but significant effort has gone into the underpinnings for this in the form of the Installer.app from Etoile. That project adapts the old NeXTstep package system to GNUstep's needs and includes features from the current Cocoa one.

The final hurdle after this is to update the user's startx or equivalent to run GWorkspace. Of course, this brings up the need to interoperate better with other window managers and non-click-to-focus, particularly as WindowMaker is not the most actively maintained project out there. Also, it goes without saying, Camaleon into GNUstep core and GUI control over it is a prerequisite for any of this..

This effort should be coordinated with Etoile, the main existing desktop project. Etoile is more ambitious and will take longer to get to end-user viability than what I'm talking about above, but there's no reason not to share efforts, particularly in the package maintenance / installer / update area.

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