The GNOME reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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GNOME

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GNOME is a computer desktop environment for UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems. It is the official desktop of the GNU Project.

Table of contents
1 Origin
2 Aims
3 Organisation
4 GNOME platforms
5 Versions
6 Architecture
7 GNOME applications
8 See also
9 External links

Origin

The GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) project was started in August 1997 by Miguel de Icaza as an attempt to provide a free software desktop for the GNU/Linux operating system.

At the time, the only serious alternative for the non-technical user was KDE. However, there were a number of problems associated with KDE: it was based on Trolltech's Qt toolkit, which had a number of licensing issues regarding alleged violations of the GNU General Public License (GPL). These issues were resolved by the release of Qt under the GPL and also the QPL, an approach known as dual-licensing. There is still considerable disagreement over the use of the full GPL for a library like Qt, and the restrictions this imposes on code linking to it, such as the KDE framework and any applications written for it.
GNOME screenshot showing: RhythmBox (music), gthumb (image manager), Abiword and the Nautilus file manager viewing the available network shares
GNOME desktop using the Bengali languageEnlarge

GNOME desktop using the Bengali language

The GNOME desktop itself is written in the C programming language. A number of language bindings are available, allowing GNOME applications to be written in a variety of languages, such as: C++, Ruby, C#, Python, Perl and many others. In place of Qt, GTK+ was chosen as the basis for GNOME development. Its license is the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). It was already used by The Gimp, a major Free software project.

Aims

According to the GNOME website:

The GNOME project provides two things: The GNOME desktop environment, an intuitive and attractive desktop for end-users, and the GNOME development platform, an extensive framework for building applications that integrate into the rest of the desktop.

The GNOME desktop puts heavy emphasis on simplicity, usability and making things Just Work.

As a consequence of this, two things are given prominence in GNOME development:

Organisation

GNOME project development, like most Free software projects, is loosely organised -- preferring to rely on the dedication of those working on it. Most discussion regarding GNOME occurs on a variety of open mailing lists (see GNOME website). The GNOME foundation was set up in August 2000 to deal with administrative tasks, press interest and to act as a contact point for companies interested in GNOME development or distribution.

GNOME platforms

Although originally a GNU/Linux desktop, GNOME now runs on most Unix-like systems (*BSD variants, AIX, IRIX, HP-UX), and in particular it has been adopted by Sun Microsystems as the standard desktop for its Solaris platform, replacing the ageing CDE. Sun Microsystems has also released a business desktop under the name Java Desktop System -- a SuSE Linux system base with a GNOME desktop. There is also a port of GNOME to Cygwin, allowing it to run on Microsoft Windows. GNOME is also available in a number of LiveCD Linux distributions, which can be booted directly from a compact disc and do not require removal or changes to a pre-existing operating system, such as Microsoft Windows.

Versions

Each of the modules making up the GNOME project (see Architecture) has its own version number and release schedule. However, individual module maintainers coordinate their efforts to create a full GNOME stable release on a roughly six-month schedule. The releases listed in the table below are classed as stable. Unstable releases for testers and developers are not listed, nor are bugfix releases for individual modules.

Version Date Description
August, 1997 GNOME development announced
1.0 March, 1999 First major GNOME release
1.0.55 October, 1999 "October" GNOME
1.2 May, 2000 "Bongo" GNOME
1.4 April, 2001 GNOME "Tranquility". Last version of 1.x series
2.0 June, 2002 Major upgrade based on GTK2
2.2 February, 2003 Multimedia and file manager improvements
2.4 September, 2003 Epiphany web browser, accessibility support
2.6 March, 2004 Switch to a spatial file manager, new file dialog

Architecture

The GNOME desktop is built from a large number of different projects. A few of the major ones are listed below:

GNOME applications

See
List of GNOME applications for a more complete list. Applications based on GNOME include:

See also

External links