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Getting Started

Table Of Contents


GNOME is a free desktop environment which runs on top of X11. It is not dependent upon any given window manager, but GNOME will be much more useful if run with a window manager that is GNOME-aware. GNOME aims to provide many user-interface enhancements to the standard X11 environment:

  • Define a standard GNOME application framework for programmers. This ensures a consistent interface for users to learn, so that when they run a new GNOME app they will be able to learn it more quickly, and hopefully not have too many unexpected surprises.

  • Powerful "drag and drop" between applications.

  • A comprehensive file manager, with a virtual filesystem (VFS) underneath which exports an API to other GNOME components. Based on the VFS implemented in Midnight Commander.

  • Objects which exist on the desktop. Example - drag a URL to the desktop, and then later double-click on the object. It will fire up the web browser, if necessary, and load the requested URL.

  • Use of CORBA to export interesting APIs between GNOME components, allowing the use of these components from a wide variety of languages w/o having to write a language interface for each. This means you could write a GNOME app entirely in python, for example, which could manipulate objects on the desktop, do "drag and drop", etc.

  • Provide a powerful panel component, which can be written in any language the CORBA bindings exist for. The default panel will be a combination program launcher, icon viewer of currently running apps, and a docking area of mini-views of other apps (example - modem with modem lights indicated modem traffic).

GNOME has been selected by both the Debian distribution and Red Hat Software as their desktop environment for the future.

Additionally, RHAD Labs has been formed by Red Hat Software to concentrate on the development of GNOME, as well as other forms of free software. Currently there are 6 members of the RHAD team working full-time on GNOME and GTK+, the free widget set used by GNOME applications.

GNOME, like Linux, is primarily a product of volunteers working together via the Internet, and is and will always be freely distributable and modifiable (it is released under the GPL and LPGL licenses, also applicable to programs and libraries, respectively).

Most importantly, the core GNOME and GTK+ components do NOT depend upon any non-Open Source code, meaning anyone can develop for GNOME without the fear of hidden licensing fees. We think users and developers should not be bound by restrictive licenses that limit what they can and cannot do.

Contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, it IS possible to develop non-Open Source applications using the GNOME and GTK+ libraries, because these are covered by the LGPL license. This license allows non- Open Source and non-GPL applications to be linked against the covered libraries. So if commerical/proprietary software companies wanted to port their applications to GTK+/GNOME, this would be possible and would have no restrictions.

Finally, please read the GNOME Manifesto so you can more fully understand our motivation and goals.

Permission to use material from the GNOME website was kindly granted by Michal Fulbright.

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