Last weekend I took the chance of once again installing a whole load of GNUStep packages to my Debian desktop machine. That’s some sort of ritual I’ve been doing almost regularly now for quite some years, and usually, after a short moment of enthusiasm, it tends to end up all the same – being disappointed that in some ways GNUStep is just (yet?) too limited for everyday use, that it is missing some features other Free / Open Source desktop environments have been providing for years (though some of them are just eye-candy stuff), that there are just too few applications actually fully integrated into GNUStep. There are quite some things I really liked about the NeXTStep gui and so also like about GNUStep, like, for example,
- the immensely powerful file browser utility provided by GWorkspace which is, in my opinion, one of the best file management tools created so far and made to deal even with quite complex folder structures in a fast and logical way,
- GNUMail as a flexible and fast e-mail management software with all the bells and whistles one might expect (support for digital signatures or encryption using GnuPG or similar software, powerful e-mail filtering mechanisms, …),
- quite an amount of small tools and utilities already in existence for example for handling / viewing / processing images, doing audio / media playback and the like,
- the services concept virtually linking functionality provided by GNUStep applications and tools into any other GNUStep application you might come up with (like, for example, compressing or sending files via e-mail, opening folders with an image browser and so on, or
- the user interface itself, which completely differs from most of todays desktop environments largely inspired by some operating system by a certain huge software company.
Anyhow, it still seems that GNUStep is slowly struggling along, almost unnoticed even by most of todays users of GNU/Linux, *BSD or similar operating systems that by now most of the time come packed with something like KDE or Gnome – probably this is another situation where a really good technology is doomed to be of little to no importance compared to software which is way less unique, in some ways maybe way less powerful than GNUStep already is (for example, I never really managed to get my work done fast with any Explorer-styled file management tool – that’s where today I mostly use the infamous Midnight Commander or even just a plain shell…). Let’s see what the future will hold. For all those wanting to check out GNUStep without messing around with their installed systems, there also is a live cd available now filled with pretty much all the important tools this environment by now has to offer – so point your browser to http://www.linuks.mine.nu/gnustep/ and see…