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GNUstep LiveCD 2017 (aiei.ch)
156 points by mondoshawan on Aug 10, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 95 comments

Happy to see the GNUstep project still alive and kicking. WindowMaker has been the daily driver at my home desktop since 2000 when I first installed Debian and found the KDE & GNOME desktops way too heavy and unstable.

At this point, I am just too accustomed to WM to try anything different. It's a great window manager and has all the bells & whistles I ever need, yet it's blazingly fast. Though lately some KDE software has been misbehaving under my present-day Arch Linux install (small rendering issues, probably a theme configuration error), but as long as GTK + Firefox + xterm work, I am happy enough.

I've been using WindowMaker through multiple distros, at least from Red Hat (back before Fedora) through Slackware and now Ubuntu.

It's stable, low-resource without being needlessly weird, and visually appealing.

I may have to come back to it - I forget why I moved away a few years ago, but have been missing it things about it. Actually, looking at the whole of GNUstep, I'm going to have to think about trying it out - the use of a non-annoying init is a huge plus, as is ditching some of the "helpful" cruft Ubuntu layers on top of Debian.

I just have less time and energy for playing with this crap than I used to.

Do you still get plug and play for e.g. USB drives and such when using Windowmaker? (As compared to a full desktop environment such as XFCE or KDE.)

Yes. This is all handled via udev, udisks & co., XFCE, Gnome and KDE have nothing to do with it (other than having it work more or less out of the box).

Of course, since the headlined article mentions the absence of systemd, this raises the question of whether there is udev in there.

They do have it: http://www.aiei.ch/gnustep/gnustep-2.5.txt

udev existed before systemd, but was merged to it sometime in 2014. By quick Googling there are still several forks that maintain it as a separate component.

My understanding is it's in the same repository (for convenience), but is logically separate, so "forking" it mainly means copying the correct directory.

No, it's tied to systemd. That was one of the big reasons behind systemd adoption in the first place.

Eh, not really. Many Parabola users who use OpenRC instead of systemd still use systemd-udev, as opposed to eudev or one of the other non-system forks.

I don't know what they use, but there's always eudev, Gentoo's fork which works just fine, and offers pretty much everything that udev offers (except for the systemd dependency).

The headlined article explains that it is Debian 9, which does not have eudev, nor vdev (which is in Devuan), nor Suckless mdev.

Cool. Is much tweaking needed to get it to work smoothly?

If you mean auto-mounting on inserting USB devices, it is handled a bit differently depending on your distribution. E.g. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Udisks https://wiki.debian.org/AutoFs

I personally don't think it's that much of a trouble to just journalctl for the /dev/sdX of the inserted device and then sudo mount /dev/sdX /mnt/tmp manually, because I so rarely plug USB drives. For permanently attached or frequently used devices you can add them to fstab and mount by UUID to a fixed path.

Either way, you will still always need to umount manually or risk loosing data.

Honestly -- I have no idea, I only had to do it a few times, on Yocto and buildroot images, and in pretty restricted cases. It was pretty easy (basically udev has this file which matches a set of device selection rules with a set of actions, effectively saying "if I encounter a device of this type, I'm going to do these particular things"), but I googled my way through it.

I expect there are some distro-specific hoops to jump through, but I have no idea which ones -- I really don't like automounting, I keep it disabled even on KDE.

(Why? Old habits die hard, I guess?)

Two interesting things: No systemd but classic init

Well, that's one quick way to win a few people over.

Among future items: Versions based on ReactOS, Minix3, Plan 9, and GNU/kFreeBSD

Really intriguing, but how many people have you got working on this?

I feel like the anti-systemd folks are just helping systemd by portraying the only two choices as systemd and classic init. It used to be the consensus that there were real problems solved by non-classic init systems, of which there were several decent options, systemd being the most popular but also the most controversial. I think there are serious problems with systemd and I want a decent featureful init / boot-ordering system, but given the choice between classic init and systemd I'd definitely pick systemd.

As an example of the most basic improvements over classic init, here's a paper from 2001 from OpenBSD about dependency-based init with no runlevels: https://www.usenix.org/legacy/event/usenix01/freenix01/full_...

Since this is Debian-based, does "classic init" in this context mean they're using insserv? That's definitely not "classic," but it's definitely a better option IMO. If so, are they interested in helping out with maintaining insserv in Debian? It hasn't seen a maintainer upload for almost five years, and help is requested: https://bugs.debian.org/834284

I don't know who the "anti-systemd folks" you're talking to are, but I haven't seen that. I see several different projects using several different inits, including, yes, "classic init".

The only folks I hear talking about One True Init (which will also take over completely unrelated functions, poorly) are the systemd folks.

Also, it sounds like you're unaware of the distinction, but the BSDs have never had sysvinit-style runlevels. You can kinda hack them in if you like, but there's no native notion of runlevel; you get single-user or multi-user.

I think the biggest issue of SystemD was not only the controversial development process, but the dependencies of other projects like udev into SystemD's repo and packaging.

Bingo. Rarely if ever have i seen someone considered anti-systemd as being pro-sysv. What they are pro however is init diversity.

With sysv, it was relatively easy to slot in a different init as the admin wanted.

A distro i have used for some time, Gobolinux, may use the sysv init binary for example. But it forgoes the usual sysv layout for one more akin to just a rc.local.

But with systemd it is systemd, and only systemd, because systemd is so "invasive".

And the real worry is when third party developers assume systemd as the default and make it hard, or resist, supporting alternatives.

me, feel free to help. reactos and gnustep should be not too hard. i am so sorry i forgot Hurd but no sound drivers turned me so off.

Thank you so much for your contribution! I'm going to try it later, but your page and links did a great job of explaining to me what is the point of NeXTstep and why I as a (pragmatic) developer in 2017 should care at all about it.

Thank you!

Is it a quick way to lose a few people as well?

Is it going to be a net gain or net loss?

It appears to be based on Debian 9, which means that there is systemd support too, it just must be disabled by default.

(In Debian 8, systemd was made the default init system.)

Not HURD? Quite sad when considering that GNUstep is a GNU project.

Insisting that it must run only on HURD... now that's a way to lose a lot of people! :D

It is surprising that this list does not include HURD though!

> Future Plans

> Versions based on ReactOS, Minix3, Plan 9, and GNU/kFreeBSD

Any word on Étoilé? That seemed to be interesting project built using GNUstep. Doesn't seem to be any activity in the repo since Dec 2016.

http://etoileos.com/etoile/ http://etoileos.com/

the important parts were added back to gnustep.

Including libobjc2, which is a substantial improvement over the old GNU implementation. And it's MIT licensed!


Lunduke did a pretty funny "review" of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFSTnZM27Gc

Thank you. It helps me understand how it looks and works.

I used WindowMaker in the late 90s on Redhat 5.0. At the time it was the most Windows-like environment (e.g. icons could be added using the GUI instead of editing a config file) I had access to on Linux, and that similarity made it more usable to me that FLWM or whatever came with Redhat. The dock and applets were what kept me using it even after KDE and Gnome came out. Off and on I'd try it, but the progress seemed extremely slow. For those that have used NextStep, how does the GNUstep environment compare?

In actual day to day use, I've found it to be a little wonky. Wmaker has its own widget system similar to the Foundation stuff that GNUStep uses, and the two sometimes run afoul of each other (dockapps, withdrawn windows, even the menu bars). Never could get the GFiler project to quite jive with wmaker.

Most of the apps written using GNUstep work fine, though. I should note, I haven't given this liveCD a whirl just yet -- my last attempt with GNUstep was about 6-9 months ago, building from source.

I like that GnuStep is still out there. That's awesome.

Quoting a study from 1992 is kinda funny. But NextStep is a faster development environment than SunOS. Preach on, brother.

An interesting video showing some features of NeXTSTEP, on which GNUStep is based:


I've always been intrigued by GNUstep but never kept it around for long. I think I'll give this a spin. I notice it's based on Debian but uses classic init. I switched all my workflow to OpenBSD on servers and Slackware on a couple of laptops and desktops over the last year or so but before that I'd used Debian exclusively on everything for over 15 years.

This offering has definitely piqued my curiosity! At least enough to try it in a VM...

I was really interested in the NeXT machine but couldn't afford one. So when I got my hands on a surplus PC I set it up with Red Hat and WindowMaker. WM was okay as long you used programs intended for it but I never really got used to it.

Then I switched to S.u.S.E and using KDE and never looked back.

I was kind of hoping this would be built on top of XNU/Darwin.

Still cool, though.

Relatedly, someone was working on bringing Mach IPC, kernel-space libdispatch, etc. to FreeBSD. Doesn't look like it's still active, though.


GNU and terrible looking web pages and logos correlate still :D

For the record, this is not a GNU web page. The logo is the real GNUstep logo, and yeah plenty of GNU logos aren't great, but bashing the work of volunteers is really mean.

Maybe you're right. Sorry. It was just my initial reaction based on that this GNU design issue has been raised to my attention before.

It's all good. GNU has traditionally lacked volunteers experienced in graphic design/marketing.

https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/ and https://www.gnu.org/software/guile/ two good looking (IMHO) GNU project websites that I know of. There may be others.

Nice to see Guile so improved lastly. Also https://www.gnu.org/software/guix/ is nice.

At least not standard three-column landing page with huge fonts, cheesy icons and "testimonials", like most of corporate opensource.

And best of all, no explainer video with ukulele and glockenspiel music

How often do you need to look at these web pages? The vast majority of the time these things get installed from package managers.

The Gnu Octave page looks pretty good. I was hoping they'd start copying that look everywhere.

Weirdly enough when trying to install wmaker on debian it seems that it does not depend on any GNUstep packages. Indeed, it seems to be using libwutil5 instead.

Wmaker is not actually affiliated with GNUstep, and in fact has its own Foundation-style widget set written in straight C called WINGs. WMakerPrefs uses this to do its work.

WindowMaker predates GNUStep and is just a window manager that has a NextStep theme. I used it on Linux in the late 1990s.

GNUStep predates WindowMaker by a couple of years, and windowmaker.org states:

Window Maker is an X11 window manager originally designed to provide integration support for the GNUstep Desktop Environment.

WindowMaker was released in 1997. GnuStep in 1998 (yes, it had been announced years earlier). While it may have been the author's intent all along to support GNUStep, the reason why it doesn't rely on any GNUStep libraries is that they didn't exist at the time.

Reminds me of early 2000 when I started with WindowMaker, moved to Fluxbox, then Enligtenment and finally kept switching between KDE and Gnome.

Laptop support?

"One could say that GNUstep is a very nice woman, but without proper make-up and with a shabby dress. Although the expert eye could see the star sparkle, the average person maybe would prefer a more normal female with choosen make-up and dress."

I'm sure everybody here will appreciate this nice nugget of gentlemanly wisdom.

(Should I add </sarcasm> here?)

Comparisons like this always make me cringe. Do we have to use women as the comparison for things like this?

As a woman in tech, this kind of comparison almost always makes me want to disengage.

As a man in tech I still had the same reaction. At best it just screams amature hour. At worst it is downright misogynistic. Frankly, to me it comes off a little of both.

The only redeeming thing here is that quote wasn't made by the GNUstep maintainers but from the comments section on the blog. However the GNUstep maintainers should have known better than to include said quote on their homepage.

As a person in the world I had the same reaction!

Don't blame you a bit. I do dismiss people like this - life is too short for dealing with them, even the ones who are clueless rather than actively hostile.

Suggestion for clueless men who think this makes you look worldly or cool: if you can easily substitute inanimate objects in your metaphor that otherwise involves the dehumanizing half the planet, do so. You might eventually become actually worldly and cool someday if you start practicing now. If, on the other hand, the esteem and praise of 14 year old boys and men who still act like them is all you care about, please, by all means, keep it up. It makes my life easier when people I don't want to be around advertise.

As man in tech, that had the pleasure of working with very good fellow technical females, I fully agree with you.

We don't need stuff that turns good professionals away from our field.

It makes me cringe too. How deaf and gross.

You're free to make your own comparisons to whatever you want. He obviously likes women. Woops.

We've banned this account for posting trollish flamebait. These threads are toxic enough without people pouring toxins in on purpose.

GNUstep is like a barn find Corvette. Sure it has rust on the frame and the paint is ugly and the upholstery ruined. However, it's low miles on the original engine. With a bit of work could be an extremely valuable show car.

I feel like cars make a better analogy.

if you dont mind i can take your comparison to replace the other...

Expresses the precisely same sentiment while objectifying, you know, an object instead of a person.

Comparisons like this always make me cringe. Do we have to use cars as the comparison for things like this?

As a person who identifies as a car in tech, this kind of comparison almost always makes me want to disengage.

Yes, I find that quote quite offensive.

This page is not from the official GNUStep project, and doesn't seem to be written by a GNUStep developer. However the quote is from a comment by web developer associated with GNUStep. That's unfortunate.

Wow, just wow.

If I was trying to offend my wife, writing a joke sexist piece, I don't think I could do better.

This should be cut ASAP. There are other ways to get this idea across without making it weird.

> the average person maybe would prefer a more normal female

So there's two categories here, "person" and "female"? What are we, Ferengi?

My favorite part is the writer self-implicating they are an "expert" in looking at women.

It just reeks of "nasty little schoolboy". You could almost wish the author will learn better when they eventually grow up, except of course we know they haven't.

As if make-up or a dress is required for a woman to look good.

That's really not the point. Women's looks just shouldn't be part of the conversation at all. It's completely irrelevant to the issue at hand and it being part of the conversation in any sense can only be offensive. That's why you're being downvoted, not by me but I completely get why people are doing it.

I respectfully disagree. I find it extremely relevant. It underlines the misogyny.

This became part of the discussion the moment GNUstep added that to their website, and a user here quoted it (without being downmodded).

The user obviously quoted it because he or she disagreed with it, and no doubt the upvoters felt the same way.

I think it's fair to add that the maintainer heard the point and (rightly) said he would change that paragraph.

>As a woman in tech, this kind of comparison almost always makes me want to disengage.

And that's why there are not many women in tech. Stop taking things personally. I don't care if you're a woman. Is that a good thing or bad thing? I'm not sure any more. Is it not OK to use people to make analogies?

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14979215 and marked it off-topic.

I'd like to clarify something here: I'm not taking this personally. I mentioned that it's off-putting and makes me not want to be in the field, and I'm part of one of the groups that we're all so concerned with getting more of in tech lately. If you care, you'll listen. If not, well, so be it. I don't care.

Normally I'd keep my mouth shut about this kind of thing, but I spoke up because I've finally run headlong into this kind of crap in the workplace, despite my 20 years of experience in the field, and I don't want to deal with it anymore. It's unprofessional and unwelcome. I've been shouted down, talked over, laughed at, yelled at, and fought with, demoralized, and stepped on. And I'm used to dealing with the usual technical fracas with intelligent folks in IT, and can go toe-to-toe with others on technical issues without taking it personally.

Up until recently, I've been lucky enough to avoid all of the crap by working with people that actually respect me for my talent. Now that I've moved out east and experienced it first hand, I don't want to experience it again. So I'm speaking up and asking you and others to stop it, and telling you it's one of the reasons my particular subgroup is being driven out.

Take it or leave it.

What are you even talking about? I've also been shouted down, talked over and the rest. What does that have to do with the analogy for which you felt the need to express disapproval and play your "woman in tech" card?

You have a strong air of superiority. You seem to think that because you are a woman that you are more important than me. I'm sure this is because you are a part of the group that "we're all so concerned with".

Well, guess what? I am not concerned about getting more of any group of people in tech. I want people in tech who want to be in tech. Simple as that. I support lowering the barriers to entry even lower than they are right now. Free software and Raspberry Pis are great. They are cheaper than Barbie dolls now. We're doing really well.

What I don't support is trying to force a particular group of people to do something that most of them don't want to do. As a woman in tech yourself you must surely see that it is possible and that there are no extra barriers to any other woman who wants to pursue the same path. Or do you think that you are special and all those other, weaker women need more help to do what they want?

The personal attack you crossed into here is completely unacceptable on HN. I've banned this account.

All: introducing personal abuse into what is already a divisive and inflammatory topic will get you banned here, so please just don't do it.

Sorry, if that's what you took from my reply, I apologize. That is not at all what I intended.

You have nothing to apologize for.

I'm sorry you ran into this on Hacker News. As a moderator of this place who spends much of his life trying to contain the poison, I can't tell you how ashamed I feel to see that here.

What do the words "man", "woman", "male", "female" really even mean these days?

We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14979330 and marked it off-topic.

Is there a Swift environment running on this yet? /s

There's steptalk which is effectively a smalltalk environment embedded inside of the Objc runtime. See also the Etoile project here: http://etoileos.com/news/archive/2006/05/28/2222/

I was going to bring up Etoile; I assume it's dead, since there doesn't seem to been any activity for a few years?

At least in the blog/news areas sure. I wouldn't doubt if there's been development on the IRC channels and the mailing lists, though.

I does seem like they were having a bit of an identity crisis around the time steptalk was put together, though.

I am still waiting for a properly packaged swift 3 for debian. Of course I could add the swift from apple as ubuntu deb pkg. but still we will get gnustep swift bindings some day...

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