13th January 2014

One Step to GNUstep

One Step to GNUstep is a ready-to-use software development environment for Objective C programmers. It can run on most reasonably powerful, modern computers. It is quick and easy to install.

It provides the language facilities you need for developing in Objective C, together with the GNUstep libraries and a collection of GNUstep-based applications and development tools.

Simply import it into a virtualisation system — such as VirtualBox, VMware Player or QEMU-KVM — and you're ready to go!


This compilation of programs is copyright © 2014 Richard Stonehouse. It comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.

This is free software and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions. For details, please see the page: Licences for This Software.

How To Get It

You will need virtualisation software; if you do not already have this installed, please see the section on Hardware and Software Requirements.

You can download One Step to GNUstep and its documentation from:


It is packaged as a set of three files containing an OVF format Virtual Appliance:



GNUstep-VM.i686-0.9.6-disk1.vmdk — huge file (approx 0.68 GB)

It may be useful to check the SHA1 digests of the downloaded .vmdk and .ovf files against the correct checksums given in the Manifest (.mf) file, especially if you get an error when importing the OVF. This is in case the files have been corrupted in downloading.

Import the OVF file into your virtualisation software and then start it up — see the instructions for:

Logging On to the System

The One Step to GNUstep VM runs as a guest system on your actual computer or host system. It uses a window on the host system as its virtual screen.

After you start your virtual machine, the first thing that appears on the screen is a boot menu:

Picture of boot menu

For now, just let it boot the normal system.

The first time you boot the system, it may take a few minutes to come up. This is because the Virtual Machine needs to configure itself to the actual hardware and virtualiser being used.

Subsequent boots should be much faster. The system displays a GNUstep-themed screen while it is initialising itself. If you wish to see the system initialisation messages, press the <Esc> key.

After the guest system has come up, it displays a login screen:

Picture of login screen

Login as:

    Developer (password GNUstep)

Alternatively, if you need to do system maintenance tasks, you can login as root (password linux), but this is not recommended as a normal operational procedure.

Using the System

When you have logged in, you will see the GWorkspace desktop with application icons for the GNUstep graphical applications:

Picture of desktop

Feel free to explore the system and experiment with these applications in any way you wish. Five of the applications may be of particular interest to software developers:

Other applications include:

There is a tutorial on ProjectCenter and Gorm at:


The GNUstep applications are backed up by the build tools, compilers and diagnostic aids for C, C++ and Objective-C that you would expect to find in a serious development environment. Technical documentation, for both Developers and Users, is also available.

Developers wishing to to do leading-edge Objective C development may be interested in one of the alternative variants of GNUstep.

Tips and Tricks for Using your Virtual Machine

Experienced VM users can probably ignore or skim this section.

Virtualisation systems provide facilities that help you co-ordinate your work across the guest and host machines. Among other things, you may be able to:

Ending Your Session

In the GWorkspace menu (click the screen background, if need be, to make this appear) choose:


The GWorkspace desktop will be replaced by a purple background. Click on this background to obtain the WindowMaker Applications menu.Picture of exit menu

In this menu, choose:


to bring up a sub-menu and, in this sub-menu, choose one of:

If you change your mind and want to return to your GNUstep session, choose:Picture of system menu

GNUstep —>
  System —>


Comments, queries, bug reports etc are welcome.

Richard Stonehouse