Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sun 8th Sep 2002 22:19 UTC, submitted by Chad Hardin
OpenStep, GNUstep This is the brand new version of Simply GNUstep, a Linux distribution that only includes applications based on the GNUstep 1.4.0/GUI 0.8.0 APIs or WindowMaker's NeXT UI style. The ISO is 275 MB and this time can be installed on its own partition, however its new installer can cause problems on multi-boot PCs, so the author marked this release as a Developer Release 1. The distro was re-created from scratch (doesn't use Red Hat anymore) and it is built with GCC 3.1 for i586+. Screenshots available.
Order by: Score:
Looks interesting
by Miles Robinson on Sun 8th Sep 2002 22:52 UTC

But the screenshots show applications that, at least to me, a spoiled KDE/GNOME lover, are really just plain non-user-friendly.

RE: Looks interesting
by Eugenia on Sun 8th Sep 2002 22:57 UTC

The NeXT UI was years ahead of its time when it was introduced in 1988. But until the last days of NeXT, in 1996, it didn't change that much. Today is indeed looking too greyish and boring, but it still includes some UI elements (like the floating menu) not found anywhere else. (Some of the NeXT UI elements made it to BeOS in the mid-90s, as there were a bunch of ex-NeXT employees started working for Be around that time.)
But yes, today, that UI is just old... Even MacOSX, the direct descendant of NeXT, had to update its UI and use Aqua. Also, I do not think that the Simply Gnustep project endorses themes, as the point is to have a NeXT experience as closely as possible.
It works well though. ;)

NeXT!
by Jay on Sun 8th Sep 2002 22:57 UTC

We argue about KDE and Gnome so much, this is sort of refreshing, kind of cool looking in a minimalistic way. Also looks like zero bloat. Might have to try this out!

NeXT...
by Jay on Sun 8th Sep 2002 23:00 UTC

It is very grayish <g>. I used to have a mono NeXT workstation, so it still seems attractive to me in that bare bones way. I can use it and Lycoris and go from one extreme to the other <g>.

Does Simply GNUStep need XFree86?
by someone on Sun 8th Sep 2002 23:04 UTC

I am confused by the relationship between GNUStep,
OpenStep, WindowMaker, XFree86 and so on.
WindowMaker runs over XFree86. And this Simple GNUStep
looks like WindowMaker. Does Simple GNUStep also run over
XFree86? I hope not ,since XFree86 is so slow, so bloated.

RE: Does Simply GNUStep need XFree86?
by Eugenia on Sun 8th Sep 2002 23:09 UTC

GNUstep is an API, based on the OPENSTEP API, released in the mid-90s.
WindowMaker is an X11 desktop environment based on the NeXT and OpenSTEP operating systems look and feel. However, it does not use the GNUstep API, it uses its own called WINGS (Wings Is Not GnuStep), even if the widget look pretty much the same.
Yes, Simply Gnustep is using XFree, as WindowMaker requires X11. There is no other alternative today that can support many graphics cards as Xfree can, under Linux. It is the only choice.
Creating a distro is one thing. Re-creating the Windowing system is another, and it might be an even bigger job.

So, yes, it is XFree, and WindowMaker is fast enough to work just fine with it.

WindowMaker
by Chewy509 on Sun 8th Sep 2002 23:25 UTC

WindowMaker on XFree86 is NOT slow, as it runs perfectly fine and quite snappy on a iP233MXX w/256MB Ram... The cause for slowness that most people associate with XFree86 is NOT caused by XFree86, but by the Window Manager they are using... hence why I've always used WindowMaker* (light, small and does exactly what I need)...

This is the step in the right direction IMHO... a unified and integrated linux solution... not something that does everything, but does nothing (because nothing works together) type solution...

Chewy509...

*I switched from AfterStep to WindowMaker at Redhat 5.x... but that's a while ago...

NeXT, XFree, blah, blah
by Miles Robinson on Sun 8th Sep 2002 23:38 UTC

If I came off as saying that I didn't like the UI or anything like that, I apologize. I love the NeXT UI, and the general feel of WindowMaker. WindowMaker is my favorite environment to use that is not a desktop. It's really fast and snappy, and it gets the job done quicker than anything else (Except, arguable, Blackbox and Fluxbox, if you're using really old hardware, and I mean really old compared to my K6III-450).

The only problem I can see with this distro is general acceptance within the community due to the initial adjustment phase. But I guess I could just be making a point out of nothing, come to think of it, seeing as how there's an initial adjustment phase when using anything, but the NeXT UI esp. seems to have a longer phase. ;)

That's enough rambling, lol! I have lots of stuff to do. ;)

Great Step in the correct direction
by Matthew Gardiner on Sun 8th Sep 2002 23:58 UTC

It is good to see a group of hackers are building a distro the correct way. Who cares if you can bundle a million text editors with a distro? when the only true editior is vi ;-)

Ok, I've got your attention. Having been an old Amiga/IRIX and Solaris user, I am happy to see this is being developed. Once "there" I'll move over to it. Now, what I would like to see it more promoting of the NeXT step API so that more applications can be ported to it. At the end of the day, we can cry and moan like sheillas, or we could move on and realise the vast majority of people are <put down>, and the chances of ever getting a large portion is very low.

What we should concerntrate on is the top 15% of the computing community. Aka, the creme dela creme of users. The great thing is with this section is that they are not afraid to learn and they are satisfied as so long as the OS and desktop are integratred, and there is consistancy between apps, and from the screenshots, it appears they've hit the nail on the head.

I will ignore the vi comment, lol.

As for consistency, I agree, from the screenshots consistency is superb. ;)

I plan to move away from X11 eventually
by Chad Hardin on Mon 9th Sep 2002 00:43 UTC

Hello all,
i'm the guy who does Simply GNUstep. Pretty much do it myself right now, but anyway...
I have been planning on moving away from X11 since the beginning. it is not an easy task though, and it wont happen for the first release.

My plan is to use a system similar to OS X. I plna on using a lightweight WindowServer process which is tied to a DisplayManager process which is tied to DirectFB and finally the linux kernel video framebuffer (whew!). I plan on implemeting a REAL Display Postscript model which uses the Ghostscript sources, this should provide real WYSISYG.
The WindowServer only deals with windows; where they are located and how they clip each other.
The DisplayManager can take multiple video cards and virtualize them into one display (like Xinerama). The display manager will be linked to DirectFB and a Postscript interpretor.
There will be no "window manager" like X11, clients wil draw their own window decorations. Also, there will be a separate process for some kind of Dock.
Applications will use the GNUstep API to send postscript (think Quartz) commands to the WindowServer and the windowServer will work with the DisplayManager and forward it the postscript for rendering. This is not quite how Apple does it (I think). I'm not sure because i don't look at the official Apple docs so that my implementation will be as clean as possible.
Just wanted to let everyone know that X11 is only a temporary solution so that something can be delivered now instead of years from now.
There are good and bad sides to this:
Good: Resolutions and monitors will be able to be changed on te fly.
Bad: Video card support is limited to what the linux kernel can handle.

Have fun everybody and remember not to install this on any machine except a "test" machine. You may want to try and DL some virtual machine software and install it there. Some companies let you DL a trial version; that will give you a free and safe way to try it out (wink, wink)


Chad

Re: Chad
by FH on Mon 9th Sep 2002 01:07 UTC

Love the new version! It kills me, though since I just downloaded the old version on Tuesday.

Keep up the good work, and with your plans I wish you a lot of luck.

Ive got a couple of questions for you, if you don't mind-

First, it seems that the LinuxStep folks are going to be doing something quite similar - are you working with them at all? Or have they just taken your ball and run the other way with it (seeing as you "started" this concept last year)?

Second, you seem to be trying to come as close as possible to an Apple/NeXT style implementation as you can. My question, then is why use Linux? Why not use Darwin or Lites/Mach4?

My last question, is what can I do to help?

Dont get it...
by William Ray Barker on Mon 9th Sep 2002 01:50 UTC

OKay so you have to use Linux, and it uses it's own API simular to Cosmoe.... But do they have just a NextStep clone completely... if not it makes me feel that OpenBeOS will never happen, because didn't they try to make a Amiga clone too that never finished? So it only works in Linux... not NextStep clone completely?

RE: Dont get it...
by Eugenia on Mon 9th Sep 2002 01:54 UTC

No, it is not trying to be binary compatible to NeXTSTEP. Only somewhat source compatible, via the GNUstep.

This project is closer in "philosophy and goal" to the BlueEyedOS, rather than OpenBeOS or Cosmoe that you mentioned. The Cosmoe API has nothing to do with this project. Cosmoe doesn't even use XFree86.
Again, this is closer to what the BlueEyedOS is trying to achieve for BeOS.

Can't install it on VMWare
by Eugenia on Mon 9th Sep 2002 02:14 UTC

Chad,
I created a 1.8 GB hdd on my VMWare, and then booted it with the ISO, but the installer, while it tried to probe any hard drives, it only tries to install everything on itself (on the virtual CDROM), not the hard drive... ;)
Any ideas?

For FH
by Chad Hardin on Mon 9th Sep 2002 02:32 UTC

Love the new version! It kills me, though since I just downloaded the old version on Tuesday.
Sorry :-)

Keep up the good work, and with your plans I wish you a lot of luck.
Thanks!

Ive got a couple of questions for you, if you don't mind-

First, it seems that the LinuxStep folks are going to be doing something quite similar - are you working with them at all? Or have they just taken your ball and run the other way with it (seeing as you "started" this concept last year)?
**
Our projects came out at about the same time and are not based on each other. We agreed that we should work together when practical but our goals are too different for us to totally merge. The main difference is that the LinuxStep people are trying to make big changes to the way linux systems are "normally" built. They are compiling the sources for the base GNU stuff so that configuration of the system is not done with flat text files in the /etc directory but are instead placed in directories such as /Library/Configuration/Apache (an innacurate example but you get the idea). This is more ambitious and more like OS X but it is consuming a lot of time, they haven't released a complete "system" yet. They have made some great software concerning package mangement and such, but I already have my own package manager that is almost done.
My goal is more modest but works, I have a traditional unix filesystem layout which I "hide" from the user. I think this will work just fine, although it is not as "pure" as the Linuxstep/Apple way of doing things.




Second, you seem to be trying to come as close as possible to an Apple/NeXT style implementation as you can. My question, then is why use Linux? Why not use Darwin or Lites/Mach4?
***
I'm used to linux, I've been working with it since '95, that is the main reason I chose it. Also, linux has the drivers that are needed for a desktop system. I need all the sound, usb, firewire, etc drivers I can get a hold of. I'm open to switching to something else in the future, but right now I need something that I can get working now instead of later. I looked into HURD, it is not nearly ready. I can't work with Darwin because i do all my development on vmware, whcih doesn't support the vesa video card interface which darwin needs.


My last question, is what can I do to help?
***
For everyone who's interested! :-)
There are known problems with the distro right now, check them out.
*I need someone to explain to me or write how I can probe and use USB keyboards and mice automatically w/o user intervention.
*I need someone to explain to me how to probe the partition table of the HDs to find out exactly what is installed on them.
*I want to assign a user/group called "admin" so that a non-root user can change certain configurations. A user should not have to be "root" just to do something like install software. a special "admin" group could allow this (I think)
*I need good hardware detection
*I need a better way to handle the init system. I really like the way gentoo does it and hae the way redhat does it.
*I need to support SCSI discs (is that really i big issue? I don't know a single person who uses it on x86 except for their servers)
*The BIG ONE: OmniGroup, the people who make the Cocoa based OmniWeb web browser have stated that they will port their apps for GNUstep if someone can make their special base libraries work with GNUstep. this is a big task, but it has a big reward as well, it will bring a good web-browser into the fold.
*i'm sure there are other things, but since the Simply GNUstep source tree is soooo big (3.5GB) I haven't gotten around to putting it on CVS. This makes collaberation almost impossible. Feel free to DL the SourceTree to have a look at how a linux-distro is made though, it will be available later on today.


Later,

Chad

When you first boot installer switch to a virtual terminal and run fdisk /dev/hda (or whatever your HD is)

note that fdisk complains that there is no partition table? the installer doesn't handle this correctly (sorry)
simply enter the "w" command and fdisk will install a partition table


switch back to the virtual terminal that the installer is running on and continue, it should work fine.

Chad

Uhh?
by Miles Robinson on Mon 9th Sep 2002 03:03 UTC

"Bad: Video card support is limited to what the linux kernel can handle."

Does that mean that my Nvidia card wouldn't really work? If it will, how well (TNT2)?

RE: Can't install it on VMWare
by Eugenia on Mon 9th Sep 2002 03:03 UTC

Ok, forget it, I managed it, by using fdisk and deleting all the partitions on the virtual disk. It apparently requires an unpartitioned hdd in order to install.
I installed the VMWare tools as well, so I am up and running with SimplyGnustep on my virtual machine. ;)

So the install only works with Linux I get that part then it says you can install on seperate partition... then do you still need the first partiton or is the linux partition just for the install simular to installing AtheOS and you need a fat partition just to install AtheOS on it's own partition?

RE: So if I install it I dont need Linux?
by Eugenia on Mon 9th Sep 2002 03:49 UTC

You do not need any Linux partitions. You only need an IDE drive, that is unpartitioned. Then, you boot with the ISO and during the installtion, it will auto-recognize that unpartitioned space. And then it will get installed there. Then, it will automatically install GRUB on /dev/hda, so make sure that there are no other hard drives on that machine you are testing on.
Or, use VMWare so you won't get afraid that Grub will overwrite your MBR.

Hero
by bzImage on Mon 9th Sep 2002 05:58 UTC

Chad, you're my hero. Keep up the good work.

This should be nice
by jbolden1517 on Mon 9th Sep 2002 07:03 UTC

I'm regular WindowMaker user and loved the Next when I used it around '88-90. Love to see a good looking Unix desktop that looks like a Unix desktop and not a MSWindows clone. So good luck with this.

I'd recommend though that you put together an RPM for as much of the environment as possible so that people with other distributions can try out your desktop / application suite without needing to install the distribution.

A few comments:
As far as SCSI support you may be able to wait but I'd consider it neccesary. SCSI is a much better standard than IDE. There are periods of time when the price spread between SCSI and IDE is only about 2x for the same amount of space (like in the late 90's); at those prices it pays to go SCSI and knowledgeable users (the kind likely to use Linux much less a non mainstream distribution) may very well go SCSI. Today isn't one of those times when the spread is small so not many people are going SCSI on a desktop (people into high speed video excluded but they can't use Linux yet anyway...). I wouldn't worry too much though about needing to make SCSI install super user friendly people who own SCSI boards generally know their board, its often indicated during BIOS boot since the SCSI board needs to boot before the drives are usable.

As for the admin group I'm a bit confused as to the issue. Why not just have /usr in group admin with group write (or even create a /applications). Have software install configuration to /usr/etc (the older standard) and I think everything should work fine. BTW lots of linux distributions are using a "wheel" group now so the idea of a 1/2 root is even passing into linux.

be came from this
by aleksandr on Mon 9th Sep 2002 09:52 UTC

The NeXT interface was pretty good for its time. The API still is - a variation of Cocoa, which is itself a variation of the original NeXT API, would be the most powerful one on the market.

The interface, however, has been supeceded. Most notably, it still uses a sidebar-menubar. BeOS does roughly the same thing, except it makes liberal use of context menus instead of a side menu; making it much easier for regular users and power users alike.

Making this simple change in GNUStep wouldn't diminish the original NeXT focus, but would just be making the realization that there's no point in copying the OS of a company that's been dead for years.

Re: For FH
by Chris on Mon 9th Sep 2002 12:32 UTC

"I need someone to explain to me how to probe the partition table of the HDs to find out exactly what is installed on them. ".

When you say that you need "find out exactly what is installed on them", do you mean what OS is installed on them, or do you mean what the drive geometry is?

Screenies look really nice
by Shice on Mon 9th Sep 2002 14:07 UTC

I find the WindowMaker/NeXT UI to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing ones out there. It doesn't have that excessivly guady too-3d look of OS X and XP, but it doesn't look flat and dull like Win9x (how long did it take MS to make icons for their OS that had more aesthetic appeal than a Soviet worker housing bloc?).

WMaker could use some work on the user-friendliness front (mainly for configuration stuffs), but it still seems less of a kludgy mish-mash than any of the other *nix WMs I've used (probably because it's a clone of just 1 UI, rather than 2 or 3 ;) ).

Re: I plan to move away from X11 eventually
by fooks on Mon 9th Sep 2002 16:12 UTC

Good: Resolutions and monitors will be able to be changed on te fly.

The X Resize And Rotate (short: XRANDR) will take care of this. There's no need to dump X just because of this.

Bad: Video card support is limited to what the linux kernel can handle.

This is indeed very bad. There are many resources devoted to XFree86 driver (both commercial and spare time) so you will probably not get the best performance, which will suck. You will also have very poor OpenGL/3D performance in your enviroment :/

-fooks

FTP Mirror
by James Hopton on Mon 9th Sep 2002 17:05 UTC

Is there an FTP Mirror I can download from. All of the mirrors keep topping out around 20KB/sec. Currently I used Wmaker on FreeBSD and Like it a lot. Light weight and fast.

The Interface Issue
by Rafa on Mon 9th Sep 2002 18:28 UTC

Yes. The NeXTStep interface is old. Nonetheless, i think it would be stupid to drop its simplicity. I bet eugenia would take off a pixel from each corner *LOL*... Actually, the look and feel of gnustep apps is irrevocably tied to gnustep itself. Maybe in the gnustep-back libraries. So, technically, it would all be about modifying gnustep-back, but I'm not sure of that. Anyway, the GNUstep team have the intention to add themes support to the thing sometime soon... I hope it doesn't clog the whole thing. Whatever.

Did not work on two computers
by William Ray Barker on Tue 10th Sep 2002 05:47 UTC

I didn't see hardware compatiblity anywhere yet but I tried it out on two different computers and nothing... Boot start up fine looking like a normal Linux boot but then it just sits there on both computers. Maybe doesn't like AMD K6/2 ? I dont know maybe not no VIA or SIS? thats about the only other thing I can think of.

How about FreeBSD?
by Joshua Lee on Tue 10th Sep 2002 10:12 UTC

>>Second, you seem to be trying to come as close as possible >>to an Apple/NeXT style implementation as you can. My >>question, then is why use Linux? Why not use Darwin or >>Lites/Mach4?
>I'm used to linux, I've been working with it since '95,

I first played with Linux when the kernel was 0.95. (brag,brag) :-)

>instead of later. I looked into HURD, it is not nearly >ready. I can't work with Darwin because i do all my >development on vmware, whcih doesn't support the vesa video >card interface which darwin needs.

Another operating system that shares a lot in common with NeXTStep would be one of the *BSDs. I run FreeBSD 4.7, and Jaguar's userland pretty much is FreeBSD 4.5 (earlier versions being based on FreeBSD 3.4 I think); with original members of the FreeBSD team keeping the BSD portion of OS X syncronized with FreeBSD. The original NeXT used BSD for it's Unix underbelly as well. FreeBSD also has the advantage of offering a great deal of compatability with Linux, though I think it uses its own framebuffer system if you want to escape X.

Re: How about FreeBSD?
by Chris on Wed 11th Sep 2002 03:12 UTC

You don't _need_ to install Simply GNUstep if you want to try out GNUstep alone. Either take a look at www.gnustep.org and get the source packages, or checkout CVS, or take a look at /usr/ports/devel/gnustep (though the ports are anything but up-to-date).