GNUstep under Ubuntu Linux

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Revision as of 05:30, 10 February 2014; view current revision
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The most simple way to get an up-to-date installation of GNUstep on Debian or Ubuntu is to add the GNUstep weekly PPA to your distribution sources, provided by the GNUstep Developers team on Launchpad. On how to do this in detail, see the PPA page.

Compiling manually

  • Uses clang and libobjc2 for all the new features like ARC, Blocks, etc.
  • Works with a fresh install and likely with a more completed installation.
  • Works on Ubuntu 12.10 Server.
  • Works on Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop.
  • If you're trying Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop, see bottom of the page for help.

After this, you can try to install EtoileOS: see EtoileOS under Ubuntu Linux.

sudo apt-get install aptitude
# Dependencies
sudo aptitude -y install build-essential git subversion ninja cmake
# Dependencies for GNUStep Base
sudo aptitude -y install libffi-dev libxml2-dev libgnutls-dev libicu-dev 
# Dependencies for libdispatch
sudo aptitude -y install libblocksruntime-dev libkqueue-dev libpthread-workqueue-dev autoconf libtool

cd ~
git clone git://
svn co
svn co libobjc2
svn co llvm
cd llvm/tools
svn co clang

cd ~/llvm
mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
make -j8   # 8=your number of build CPUs

echo "export PATH=\$PATH:~/llvm/build/bin" >> ~/.bashrc
echo "export CC=clang"  >> ~/.bashrc
echo "export CXX=clang++" >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc
clang -v
clang++ -v

cd ~/libobjc2
mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
make -j8
sudo -E make install

cd ~/core/make
./configure --enable-debug-by-default --with-layout=gnustep --enable-objc-nonfragile-abi
make && sudo -E make install
echo ". /usr/GNUstep/System/Library/Makefiles/" >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

sudo /sbin/ldconfig

cd ~/core/base/
make -j8
sudo -E make install

cd ~/libdispatch
./configure CFLAGS="-I/usr/include/kqueue" LDFLAGS="-lkqueue -lpthread_workqueue -pthread -lm"
make -j8
sudo -E make install
sudo ldconfig

# ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You can compile the following code with:

clang `gnustep-config --objc-flags` `gnustep-config --objc-libs` -fobjc-runtime=gnustep -fblocks -fobjc-arc -lobjc  blocktest.m 

clang `gnustep-config --objc-flags` `gnustep-config --objc-libs` -fobjc-runtime=gnustep -fblocks -lobjc -ldispatch -lgnustep-base  Fraction.m helloGCD_objc.m

cat > blocktest.m << EOF
#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
    void (^hello)(void) = ^(void) {
        printf("Hello, block!\n");
    return 0;

cat > helloGCD_objc.m << EOF

#include <dispatch/dispatch.h>
#import <stdio.h>
#import "Fraction.h"

int main( int argc, const char *argv[] ) {
   dispatch_queue_t queue = dispatch_queue_create(NULL, NULL); 
   Fraction *frac = [[Fraction alloc] init];

   [frac setNumerator: 1];
   [frac setDenominator: 3];

   // print it
   dispatch_sync(queue, ^{
     printf( "The fraction is: " );
     [frac print];
     printf( "\n" );

   return 0;


cat > Fraction.h << EOF

#import <Foundation/NSObject.h>

@interface Fraction: NSObject {
   int numerator;
   int denominator;

-(void) print;
-(void) setNumerator: (int) n;
-(void) setDenominator: (int) d;
-(int) numerator;
-(int) denominator;


cat > Fraction.m << EOF
#import "Fraction.h"
#import <stdio.h>

@implementation Fraction
-(void) print {
   printf( "%i/%i", numerator, denominator );

-(void) setNumerator: (int) n {
   numerator = n;

-(void) setDenominator: (int) d {
   denominator = d;

-(int) denominator {
   return denominator;

-(int) numerator {
   return numerator;


# ------------------------------------------------------
# (i.e., if you're running Ubuntu Desktop)
# ------------------------------------------------------

sudo aptitude install -y libjpeg-dev libtiff-dev libffi-dev
sudo aptitude install -y libcairo-dev libx11-dev:i386 libxt-dev

cd ~/core/gui
make -j8
sudo -E make install

cd ~/core/back
make -j8
sudo -E make install

You can compile the following code with:

clang `gnustep-config --objc-flags` `gnustep-config --objc-libs`  -fobjc-runtime=gnustep -fblocks -lobjc -fobjc-arc -ldispatch -lgnustep-base -lgnustep-gui  guitest.m

cat > guitest.m << EOF
#import <AppKit/AppKit.h>

int main()
NSApplication *app;  // Without these 2 lines, seg fault may occur
app = [NSApplication sharedApplication];

NSAlert * alert = [[NSAlert alloc] init];
[alert setMessageText:@"Hello alert"];
[alert addButtonWithTitle:@"All done"];
[alert runModal];

  • General Note: When compiling, it is generally good to tell clang both the family and version of the runtime: -fobjc-runtime=gnustep-1.7

(The current version number can be had by looking at the latest ANNOUNCE filename in (e.g., ANNOUNCE.1.7))

Ubuntu 12.04 Help

In Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop, the installed version of CMake is 2.8.7 but you need 2.8.8 or later to compile LLVM.

patryk@telperion:~/llvm/build$ cmake ..
CMake Error at CMakeLists.txt:3 (cmake_minimum_required):
  CMake 2.8.8 or higher is required.  You are running version 2.8.7

-- Configuring incomplete, errors occurred!

The solution is to download and compile CMake yourself, using the existing CMake 2.8.7 and then replacing it.

  1. Download the latest CMake version from the CMake web site (, and uncompress iin a folder.
  2. Create a _build directory in the CMake sources folder.
  3. From the _build directory, run the following commands to build and install CMake from sources:
cpack -G DEB
sudo apt-get remove cmake cmake-data
sudo dpkg -i cmake*.deb

You probably will also need to upgrade to a newer GCC:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-toolchain-r/test
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gcc-4.8 g++-4.8
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gcc gcc /usr/bin/gcc-4.8 50
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/g++ g++ /usr/bin/g++-4.8 50

If running make -j8 in llvm failed with a "syntax error in VERSION script" error, you may be able to overcome it by doing the following steps after getting the error:

# After make -j8 returned a syntax error in VERSION script error
cd ~/llvm/build
make clean
cd ~/llvm/build/tools/lto
make -j8
cd ~/llvm/build
make -j8