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Cygwin port of GNUstep

I just succeeded in building GNUstep (CVS version) in Cygwin environment. So for all who may concern I've wrote a README.

Also GNUstep source needs some minor corrections. I will provide patches as soon as I remake them from plane hacks.

With best regards,
Ildar Mulyukov,
free SW designer/programmer

Date:	17-Sep-2002 (tested under windows-xp)
Author: Ildar Mulyukov <>


This document may be treated as just an appendix to GNUstep-HOWTO. You can find 
GNUstep-HOWTO link here:

This document is intended to provide a step by step instruction on how
to get the GNUstep base library into a usable state on a recent windows
operating system (XP, 2000, and probably NT) within Cygwin environment.

Cygwin is unix-like environment working on top of Win32 (Windows, Windows 
NT/2k/XP). You can find complete information about it on the website

For the moment GNUstep can be built with GUI support. (Native Win32 GUI, not X11)
The gui library is only partially ported to run under Win32 API so be warned.

Generally Cygwin port of GNUstep has a lot of issues and therefore is not 
suitable for end-users yet but only for [experienced] programmers.


Note: These comments are just my experience. You don't need these to build 
GNUstep. If you don't understand something don't worry.

Cygwin project is now in a very advanced stage. It's ready to be used by 
end-users and in commercial purposes and very convenient for programmers.

Cygwin provides "General UNIX" environment and APIs. In fact GNUstep-base is 
compiled using Unix alternatives of classes (like NSConcreteUnixTask). But it has
several particularities that must been taken into consideration. There is a very 
good documentation on Cygwin website on these questions. See e.g.
I would like to mention two of them:
1. Filesystem is case-insensitive. Now it's (luckily) supports soft-links. But
case-insensitivity hinders quite a lot.
2. Dynamic libraries mechanism is not so good. (Windows DLL). It does not 
support several features (and this makes so hard to port some software e.g. licq)
And it has those ugly __declspec(dllexport) / __declspec(dllimport) . But
(Cygwin hackers are just cool!) in later releases of binutils ld is capable
to link wrongly declared exports! This eliminates a lot of problems when dealing 
with DLLs (including objc.dll and gnustep-*.dll)


Before you start, you need Cygwin in some programming-oriented configuration 
(full configuration is OK but it's VERY big now). Installation instructions are 
on Cygwin site.

In fact Cygwin already contains every package needed for GNUstep except GCC and 
GDB. Please see below.

Building GCC and GDB

Cygwin contains it's own GCC and GDB packages that work very good in Cygwin 
environment. But they lack Objective-C language support so for us these are
completely unusable. See

So you have to build these two from sources.

Please note that generally GDB is optional! It's up to you whether to use it or 
not. If you don't use it you don't need to build it.

1. GCC. Get sources from . I suggest version 2.xx.x (last 
stable in gcc-2 branch e.g. 2.95.3) because gnustep-objc suits to version 2 of 
GCC. Get sources (including languages you need), unpack, build. Before installing
uninstall previous version of GCC via setup.exe program.
Note: GCC provided in Cygwin was patched to behave better in Windows/Cygwin
environment. Cygwin team has done some changes that were not committed to GCC
CVS tree and they lost Objective-C support. That's why you can't use even Cygwin
GCC source. But don't worry: newly built GCC works fine and I believe can do
all those "-mno-cygwin" and "-shared" things by fixing specs file.
Note2: You can make packages from programs you built with utility provided in
APPENDIX A. These packages can be installed with setup.exe

2. GDB. Sources are here: . See
Adam Fedor has made wonderful patch for current CVS GDB. It's probable that you
may use Cygwin GDB sources but I don't know really. Unpack, apply patch, make,
install. This may be non-trivial. Good luck.

Obtaining GNUstep

The main GNUstep project pages tell you how to get hold of this. You can get
the latest release of the following libraries. However, since Cygwin support
is currently evolving, I recommend that you get the latest snapshot
or code from CVS.

You need things in the following order:

GNUstep-make (release, snapshot, or cvs core module)
libffcall (
GNUstep-libobjc (release, snapshot, or cvs dev-apps module)
GNUstep-base (snapshot, or cvs core module)

For gui ... GNUstep-gui and GNUstep-back (snapshot, or cvs core module)

Building and installing libraries

FFCALL: Unpack, configure, make, make install. See GNUstep-HOWTO for details.
Note again: you can make package. See APPENDIX A

libiconv, libtiff, libjpeg, zlib, libxml2 and openssl are all in Cygwin distro. 
Don't forget to install respective *-devel packages.

Building and installing gnustep-make

As ususal. E.g. I use ../clear.cvs/gnustep/core/make/configure --prefix=/usr/GNUstep --with-thread-lib=-lkernel32 && make && make install

Building and installing libobjc

You need to install gnustep-objc as it properly exports symbols for DLLs and it's
DLL (I don't know whether it works OK in static form)

Go to gnustep-objc (or from CVS, into dev-apps/libobjc), and type

  make install

This should build and install the ObjectiveC runtime and headers for you.
Note: I strongly suggest removing gcc's own objc/*.h and libobjc.a files.

Building and installing GNUstep-base

Go to gnustep-base (or from CVS into the core/base directory), and type

  make install

This should automatically run the configure script for you, build the
base library and some tools, and install the whole lot (along with some
system resources).

Building and installing GNUstep-gui

To build the gui, you need to have libtiff installed ...

Go to gnustep-gui (or from CVS into the core/gui directory), and type

  make install

Building and installing GNUstep-back

This software is PRE-ALPHA ... it is present in CVS for people who which to
help porting the GNUstep backend to windows!

In the back directory, type

  make install


Pre-Compiled Binaries

I don't currently know about any resource. I have ones but don't have a place to 
put them.


Thanks to all the GNUstep hackers for this wonderful project.
Thanks to Richard Frith-Macdonald <> for his README.MinGW as I have 
copy-pasted structure of this document from his README.MinGW


This is script for making packages from sources.

# make a cygwin package
#   launch this script in the building dir


rm -rf $TMPDIR
mkdir $TMPDIR

touch /usr/time.stamp
make install

pushd .
cd /
find usr ! -type d -newer /usr/time.stamp > $FLIST
rm /usr/time.stamp

# Don't forget to rename it to real package name
tar cjf $TMPDIR/package.tar.bz2 `cat $FLIST`


--- *** CUT *** ---

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