GNU Radio

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GNU Radio
Original author(s) Eric Blossom
Developer(s) GNU Project
Tom Rondeau
Johnathan Corgan
Stable release 3.7.4 (July 14, 2014; 9 days ago (2014-07-14)[1][2]) [±]
Development status Active
Written in C++, Python
Operating system Cross-platform
Available in English
Type Radio
License GNU General Public License
Website Official website

GNU Radio is a free software development toolkit that provides signal processing blocks to implement software-defined radios and signal processing systems. It can be used with readily-available low-cost external RF hardware to create software-defined radios, or without hardware in a simulation-like environment. It is widely used in hobbyist, academic and commercial environments to support both wireless communications research and real-world radio systems.


The GNU Radio software provides the framework and tools to build and run software radio or just general signal processing applications. The GNU Radio applications themselves are generally known as 'flowgraphs', which are series of signal processing blocks which are connected together to indicate data flow.

These flowgraphs can be written in either C++ or the Python programming language. The GNU Radio infrastructure is written entirely in C++, and many of the user tools are written in Python.

GNU Radio is a signal processing package, which is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). All of the code is copyright of the Free Software Foundation.

As with all software-defined radio systems, reconfigurability is the key feature. Instead of purchasing multiple expensive radios, a single generic radio is purchased which feeds signal processing software.


Started in 2001, GNU Radio is an official GNU Project. Philanthropist John Gilmore initiated and has sustained GNU Radio with the funding of $320,000 (US) to Eric Blossom for code creation and project management duties.

GNU Radio began as a fork of the Pspectra code that was developed by the SpectrumWare project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2004 a complete rewrite of the GNU Radio was completed, so today GNU Radio doesn't contain any of the original Pspectra code. Also of note is that the Pspectra codebase has been used as the foundation of the commercial Vanu Software Radio.

GNU Radio has been used in low cost Passive radar systems.[3][4]

In September 2010, Eric Blossom stepped down as project manager and was replaced by Tom Rondeau.[5] Tom is a graduate of Virginia Tech and is an expert in cognitive radio and a longtime contributor to GNU Radio.

GNU Radio Companion[edit]

The GNU Radio Companion is a graphical UI to develop GNU Radio applications. This is the frontend to the GNU Radio libraries for signal processing. GRC has been developed by Josh Blum during his studies at the Johns Hopkins University (2006-2007), then distributed as free software for the October 2009 Hackfest. It has been used at several other universities making the project a success.[6] GRC was finally bundled with gnuradio for the 3.2 release.


PyBOMBS (Python Build Overlay Managed Bundle System), the GNU Radio installation tool, is also used to build it.

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External links[edit]