GNU Task List
email@example.com, for a possibly more current copy.
This task list is not exclusive; any other useful program might be a
good project--but it might instead be something we already have, so
gnu@prep before you start writing it.
If you start working steadily on a project, please let
know. We might have information that could help you; we'd also like to
send you the GNU coding standards.
Because of the natural tendency for most volunteers to write
programming tools or programming languages, we have a comparative
shortage of applications useful for non-programmer users. Therefore,
we ask you to consider writing such a program.
In general, a new program that does a completely new job advances the
GNU project more than an improvement to an existing program.
We very urgently need documentation for some parts of the system
that already exist or will exist very soon:
Completion of the documentation for CC-mode, a new C/C++ mode for
A C reference manual. (RMS has written half of one which you could
A manual for Ghostscript.
A manual for PIC (the graphics formatting language).
A manual for Oleo.
A book on how GCC works and why various machine descriptions
are written as they are.
A manual for programming X-window applications.
Manuals for various X window managers.
Reference cards for those manuals that don't have them: C
Compiler, Make, Texinfo, Termcap and maybe the C Library.
Many utilities need documentation, including
grep and others.
We could use an emulation of Unix
spell, which would run by
An improved version of the POSIX utility
pax. There is one on
the Usenet, but it is said to be poorly written. Talk with
firstname.lastname@example.org about this project.
grap preprocessor program for
Various other libraries.
An emulation of SCCS that works using RCS.
An over-the-ethernet debugger stub that will allow the kernel to be
debugged from GDB running on another machine.
This stub needs its own self-contained implementation of all protocols
to be used, since the GNU system will use user processes to implement
all but the lowest levels, and the stub won't be able to use those
processes. If a simple self-contained implementation of IP and TCP is
impractical, it might be necessary to design a new, simple protocol
based directly on ethernet. It's not crucial to support high speed or
communicating across gateways.
It might be possible to use the Mach ethernet driver code, but it would
need some changes.
A shared memory X11 server to run under MACH is very desirable. The
machine specific parts should be kept well separated.
Enhance GCC. See files `PROJECTS' and `PROBLEMS' in the GCC
sed probably needs to be rewritten completely just to make it
Work on the partially-implemented C interpreter project.
Help with the development of GNUStep, a GNU implementation of the
Add features to GNU Make to record the precise rule with which each file
was last recompiled; then recompile any file if its rule in the makefile
Add a few features to GNU
diff, such as handling large input
files without reading entire files into core.
nroff macro package to simplify
A queueing system for the mailer Smail that groups pending work by
destination rather than by original message. This makes it possible
to schedule retries coherently for each destination. Talk to
email@example.com about this.
Smail also needs a new chief maintainer.
Enhanced cross-reference browsing tools. (We now have something at
about the level of
cxref.) We also could use something like
ctrace. (Some people are now working on this project.)
An emulator for Macintosh graphics calls on top of X Windows.
A music playing and editing system.
A program to edit dance notation (such as labanotation) and display
dancers moving on the screen.
Port the Vibrant toolkit to work on X without using Motif.
A widget for displaying circle-shaped menus ("pie menus") with X
A program to display and edit Hypercard stacks.
An interface-builder program to make it easy to design graphical
interfaces for applications. This could work with the dynamic linker
DLD and C++, loading in the same class definitions that will be used
by the application program.
A "desktop" program with drag-and-drop icons and such.
A paint program, supporting both bitmap-oriented operations and
xpaint exists, but isn't very
A program for manipulating photographs--something vaguely like Photo
Shop (though not exactly like it).
If you think of others that should be added, please
send them to
A program to convert compiled programs represented in OSF ANDF
("Architecture Neutral Distribution Format") into ANSI C.
An imitation of Page Maker or Ventura Publisher.
An imitation of
dbase3 (How dbased!)
A text-based Web browser, somewhat like Lynx (which, unfortunately,
is not free software).
A program to reformat Fortran programs in a way that is pretty.
A bulletin board system. There are a few free ones, but they don't have
all the features that people want in such systems. It would make sense
to start with an existing one and add the other features.
A general ledger program.
A program to typeset C code for printing.
For ideas on what to do, see the book,
Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs,
Ronald M. Baecker and Aaron Marcus,
Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-10745-7
(I don't quite agree with a few of the details they propose.)
Speech-generation programs (there is a program from Brown U that you
Speech-recognition programs (single-speaker, disconnected speech).
Scientific mathematical subroutines, including clones of SPSS.
Software to replace card catalogues in libraries.
Grammar and style checking programs.
An implementation of the S language (an interpreted language used for
A translator from Scheme to C.
Optical character recognition programs; especially if suitable for
scanning documents with multiple fonts and capturing font info as well
as character codes. Work is being done on this, but more help is needed.
A program to scan a line drawing and convert it to Postscript.
A program to recognize handwriting.
A pen based interface.
Software suitable for creating virtual reality user interfaces.
CAD software, such as a vague imitation of Autocad.
Software for comparing DNA sequences, and finding matches and
Volunteers are needed to write parsers/front ends for languages such as
Algol 60, Algol 68, PL/I, Cobol, or whatever, to be used with the code
generation phases of the GNU C compiler. (C++, Objective C and Fortran
are done; Ada, Pascal and Java are being worked on.
You can get the status of the Fortran front end with this command:
finger -l firstname.lastname@example.org
Video-oriented games should work with the X window system.
Empire (there is a free version but it needs upgrading)
An "empire builder" system that makes it easy to write various kinds of
Imitations of popular video games:
Space war, Asteroids, Pong, Columns.
Defending cities from missiles.
Plane shoots at lots of other planes, tanks, etc.
Wizard fights fanciful monster.
A golf game.
Program a robot by sticking building blocks together,
then watch it explore a world.
Biomorph evolution (as in Scientific American).
A program to display effects of moving at relativistic speeds.
Intriguing screen-saver programs to make interesting pictures.
Other such programs that are simply entertaining to watch.
For example, an aquarium.
We do not need
rogue, as we have