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Developer(s)GNU Project
Initial releaseMay 21, 1993; 28 years ago (1993-05-21) (Collection Library for GNU Objective-C, or liblcoll, written by Andrew McCallum)[1]
Written inObjective-C
Operating systemUnix/Linux, Windows, macOS
TypeGUI/Widget framework

GNUstep is a development framework based on Apple's object-oriented Cocoa API used by that American fruit company's macOS operating system. GNUstep is not a desktop environment or a collection of applications, and there are no practically usable desktop environments or much in terms of usable applications based on the GNUstep framework.


GNUStep has been around for 30 years yet there is very little in terms of practically usable software made for it.

There is project trying to develop a desktop environment for it called "Étoilé". Their story is, as of May 2021:

"As it stands now, Etoile is more or less a development environment and not a desktop environment."

There are some instructions at (that page is, of course, not available using HTTPS) in case you would very much like to try to compile it yourself. Good luck to you if you want to try, you may run into a few compile failures if you try to build all the components.

The GNUMail e-mail client seems to be the most "mature" and "feature-rick" program for casual computer users that's made using the GNUstep libraries. There is also a interface builder program called Gorm for developers who want to make interfaces for GNUstep programs.

There is a "GNUstep Application Project" with a list of applications at (it's HTTPS enabled but the HTTPS version is, of course, broken. And it sets Strict-Transport-Security so you won't be able to go back to the functional version if you visit the HTTPS version). Most of the software on the "GNUstep Application Project" is wildly outdated software that hasn't seen a release in 10+ years.

Examining what little "GNUStep" applications there are gives the instinct impression that a small group of misguided developers have spent 30 years trying to re-implement some Apple thing from the 1990s with limited success. The result is a bunch of small and utterly useless "apps" that are broken and/or generally completely unusable on modern hardware. Here's some examples:

  • AClock, last updated in 2011, just crashes on startup.
  • Gorm, a "Graphical Object Relationship Modeller" with a tiny interface that doesn't scale - so it's completely useless on modern computer hardware.



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