Wesley Powers on Thu, 27 Feb 1997 20:42:40 -0500 (EST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]


Last month, there was talk about looking at the list of projects
currently requested by the GNU project. I have attached the latest list
to see if there's something we're interested in.

Selecting something from this list would be primarily a programming
project, but we would also need to do testing, configuring, writing
docs, etc.

I will bring a hard copy to the meeting.

See you on Wednesday.


GNU Task List

This file is updated automatically from `tasks.texi', which was last
updated on 3 January 1997.

About the GNU Task List

Check with `gnu@prep.ai.mit.edu', for a possibly more current copy.
You can also ftp it from a GNU FTP host in directory `/pub/gnu/tasks' -
These files in different formats are available: `tasks.text',
`tasks.texi', `tasks.info', and `tasks.dvi'.  It is also available on
the GNU World Wide Web server: `http://www.gnu.ai.mit.edu'.

If you start working steadily on a project, please let `gnu@prep' 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 Emacs mode for
     C, C++ and other languages.

   * A C reference manual.  (RMS made a try at one, which you could
     start with).

   * A manual for Ghostscript.

   * A manual for TCSH.

   * 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.

Unix-Related Projects

   * We could use an emulation of Unix `spell', which would run by
     invoking `ispell'.

   * An improved version of the POSIX utility `pax'.  There is one on
     Usenet, but it is said to be poorly written.  Talk with
     `mib@gnu.ai.mit.edu' about this project.

   * A `grap' preprocessor program for `troff'.

   * Various other libraries.

   * An emulation of SCCS that works using RCS.

   * Less urgent: `diction', `explain', and `style', or something to do
     the same kind of job.  Compatibility with Unix is not especially
     important for these programs.

Kernel-Related Projects

   * 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.

   * An implementation of CIFS, the "Common Internet File System," for
     the HURD.  This protocol is an offshoot of SMB.

Extensions to Existing GNU Software

   * Enhance GCC.  See files `PROJECTS' and `PROBLEMS' in the GCC

   * Rewrite GNU `sed' completely, to make it cleaner.

   * Rewrite Automake and Deja-GNU in Scheme, so they can run in Guile.
     Right now they are written in Perl and TCL, respectively.  There
     are also other programs, not terribly long, which we would also
     like to have rewritten in Scheme.

   * Finish the partially-implemented C interpreter project.

   * Help with the development of GNUStep, a GNU implementation of the
     OpenStep specification.

   * 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 has changed.

   * Add a few features to GNU `diff', such as handling large input
     files without reading entire files into core.

   * An `nroff' macro package to simplify `texi2roff'.

   * 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 `tron@veritas.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.)

X Windows Projects

   * 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 program to display and edit Hypercard stacks.

   * A paint program, supporting both bitmap-oriented operations and
     component-oriented operations.  `xpaint' exists, but isn't very

   * A vector-based drawing program in the spirit of Adobe Illustrator
     and Corel Draw.

   * An interactive 3D modeling utility with rendering/raytracing

   * A program for graphic morphing of scanned photographs.

Other Projects

If you think of others that should be added, please send them to

   * A free program for public-key encryption.

     This program should use the Diffie-Helman algorithm for public key
     encryption, not the RSA algorithm, because the Diffie-Helman
     patent in the US will expire in 1997.  It should use triple-DES,
     not IDEA, for block encryption because IDEA is patented in many
     countries and the patents will not expire soon.  In other
     respects, it should be like PGP.

     This program needs to be written by someone who is not a US
     citizen, outside the US, to avoid problems with US export control

     Many people believe that PGP is free software, but that is not
     actually true.  The distribution terms set by the copyright
     holders do not allow everyone to use and redistribute it.

   * 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 `dbase2' or `dbase3' (How dbased!)

   * 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

   * A general ledger program, including support for accounts payable,
     account receivables, payroll, inventory control, order processing,

   * A teleconferencing program which does the job of CU-SeeMe (which
     is, alas, not free software).

   * 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 could improve).

   * Speech-recognition programs (single-speaker, disconnected speech
     is sufficient).

   * A program to play sound distributed in "Real Audio" format.

   * A program to generate "Real Audio" format from audio input.

   * Scientific mathematical subroutines.

   * Statistical tools.

   * Software to replace card catalogues in libraries.

   * Grammar and style checking programs.

   * An implementation of the S language (an interpreted language used
     for statistics).

   * 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.

   * CAD software, such as a vague imitation of Autocad.

   * Software for comparing DNA sequences, and finding matches and

Compilers for Other Batch Languages

Volunteers are needed to write parsers/front ends for languages such as
Algol 60, Algol 68, PL/I, Cobol, Fortran 90, or whatever, to be used
with the code generation phases of the GNU C compiler.  (C, C++, and
Objective-C are done; Fortran 77 is mostly done; Ada, Pascal, and Java
are being worked on.)

You can get the status of the Fortran front end with this command:

     finger -l fortran@gnu.ai.mit.edu

Games and Recreations

Video-oriented games that work with the X window system.

   * A Doom-compatible display game engine, for running the many free
     levels people have written for Doom.

   * Empire (there is a free version but it needs upgrading)

   * An "empire builder" system that makes it easy to write various
     kinds of simulation games.

   * Improve GnuGo, which is not yet very sophisticated.

   * 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 `hack'.