List of GNU packages

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This list of GNU packages lists notable software packages developed for or maintained by the Free Software Foundation as part of the GNU Project. GNU is a Unix-like computer operating system composed entirely of free software. Many of these software packages are used together with the Linux kernel to build complete computer operating systems.

What it means to be a GNU package[edit]

Summarising the situation in 2013, Richard Stallman identified nine aspects which generally apply to being a GNU package,[1] but he noted that exceptions and flexibility are possible when there are good reasons:[2]

  1. The package should say that it is a GNU package.
  2. It should be distributed via, or another site offering access to everyone.
  3. The package's homepage should be on the GNU website.
  4. The developers must pay attention to making their software work well with other GNU packages.
  5. Documentation should be in Texinfo format, or in a format easily convertible to Texinfo.
  6. Should use GNU Guile for its extension language, but exceptions are explicitly possible in this regard.
  7. Should not recommend any non-free program, nor refer the user to any non-free documentation or non-free software.
  8. Use GNU terminology, such as GNU/Linux for the operating system and "free software" rather than "open source".
  9. The maintainer should be contactable, at least infrequently, to discuss problems in the software or fixing compatibility issues.

Base system[edit]

There is no official "base system" of the GNU operating system. GNU was designed to be a replacement for Unix operating systems of the 1980s and used the POSIX standards as a guide, but either definition would give a much larger "base system". The following list is instead a small set of GNU packages which seem closer to being "core" packages than being in any of the further down sections. Inclusions (such as plotutils) and exclusions (such as the C standard library) are of course debatable.

Name Description Provides Version [Note 1]
bash GNU's UNIX compatible shell bash 4.2 (February 13, 2011; 4 years ago (2011-02-13)) [±][3]
coreutils base commands fileutils: chgrp, chown, chmod, cp, dd, df, dir, du, ln, ls, mkdir, mkfifo, mknod, mv, rm, etc.

textutils: cat, cksum, head, tail, md5sum, nl, od, pr, tsort, join, wc, tac, paste, etc.
shellutils: basename, chroot, date, dirname, echo, env, groups, hostname, nice, nohup, printf, sleep, etc.

8.23 (July 18, 2014; 7 months ago (2014-07-18)) [±][4]
cpio archiving program cpio 2.11 (March 10, 2010; 5 years ago (2010-03-10)) [±][5]
diffutils contains utilities to compare files diff, cmp, diff3, sdiff 3.2 (September 2, 2011)
findutils contains search utilities find, locate, xargs 4.4.2, (June 6, 2009)
finger user information n/a 1.37, (October 28, 1992)
grep search for strings in files grep 2.10, (November 16, 2011)
groff document processing system (groff) groff 1.22.2 (February 7, 2013; 2 years ago (2013-02-07)[6]) [±]
GRUB GRand Unified Bootloader grub 2.00 (GRUB2) (June 27, 2012; 2 years ago (2012-06-27)) [±]
gzip compression program (gzip) gzip 1.6 (9 June 2013; 20 months ago (2013-06-09)) [±][7]
hurd [Note 2] microkernel-based set of servers that perform the same function as a UNIX kernel n/a 0.5, (September 27, 2013)
inetutils useful utils for networking ftp, telnet, rsh, rlogin, tftp 1.9, (December 31, 2011)
linux-libre kernel that is maintained from modified versions of the Linux kernel to remove any software that does not include its source code, has its source code obfuscated or released under proprietary licenses n/a 3.12.6, (December 20, 2013)
plotutils useful utils for plotting to different devices graph, libplot, libplotter 2.6, (September 27, 2009)
readline useful library for reading command lines readline 6.2 (February 14, 2011; 4 years ago (2011-02-14)) [±][8]
screen a terminal multiplexer screen 4.2.1 (April 27, 2014; 10 months ago (2014-04-27)) [±]
sysutils[Note 3] system utilities to manage users, groups, passwords, shells add-shell, chage, chfn, chgroup, chgrpmem, chpasswd, chsh, chuser, cppw, expiry, gpasswd, grpck, gshadow, hwclock, isosize, last, lastlog, login, lsage, lsgroup, lsuser, mkgroup, mkuser, nologin, passwd, pwck, remove-shell, rmgroup, rmuser, setpwnam, vipw, wall, write 0.1.6[9] (2009)
tar archiver able to create and handle file archives in various formats tar various (there are various tar implementations) (various) [±]
texinfo documentation system for producing online and printed manuals n/a 5.2 (September 26, 2013; 17 months ago (2013-09-26)[6]) [±]
time program to determine the duration of execution of a particular command time 1.7, (July 11, 1996)


  1. ^ Stable versions. Note that some distros (e.g., Gentoo) use some development versions in case the stable versions are a bit old.
  2. ^ Note that because HURD is under active development, there is no stable version. Hurd is distributed through version control systems.
  3. ^ No stable version yet. Current version is alpha and is not suitable for use in production systems.

Software development[edit]

The software listed below is generally useful to software developers and other computer programmers.

GNU toolchain[edit]

Main article: GNU toolchain

Other libraries and frameworks[edit]

The following libraries and software frameworks are often used in combination with the basic toolchain tools above to build software. (For libraries specifically designed to implement GUI desktops, see Graphical desktop.)

Other compilers and interpreters[edit]

The following packages provide compilers and interpreters for programming languages beyond those included in the GNU Compiler Collection.

Other developer tools[edit]

User applications[edit]

The software listed below is generally useful to users not specifically engaged in software development.

Graphical desktop[edit]

The following packages provide GUI desktop environments, window managers, and associated graphics libraries.

  • GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program, a bitmap image editor (similar to Photoshop)
  • GTK+ – GIMP Toolkit, containing the GTK+, GDK, and GLib set of libraries (used by the GIMP and GNOME)
  • GNOME – GNU Network Object Model Environment, the official GNU desktop platform
  • GNUstep – implementation of the Cocoa/OpenStep libraries and development tools for graphical applications
  • Window Maker – window manager for the GNUstep environment

General system administration[edit]

  • GNU Accounting Utils – set of utilities providing statistics on users and processes (last, ac, accton, lastcomm, sa, dump-utmp, dump-acct)
  • GNU Ddrescue – data recovery tool
  • GNU Emacs – implementation of Emacs editor
  • GNU fcrypt – on-the-fly encryption
  • GNU Guix – package manager and distribution of the GNU System[clarification needed]
  • GNU libextractor – metadata extraction library and tool
  • GNU nano – text editor
  • GNU parallel – shell tool for executing jobs in parallel
  • GNU Parted – hard drive partitioning program
  • GNU Privacy GuardPGP encryption replacement
  • GNU Stow – managing the installation of software packages
  • pexec – shell tool for executing jobs in parallel


  • GnowSys – kernel for semantic computing (a distributed agent oriented knowledge base.)
  • GNU dbm (GDBM)
  • GNU Ferret – Free Entity Relationship and Reverse Engineering Tool, an SQL database designer

Scientific software[edit]


A user page at a GNU MediaGoblin 0.2.0–based website



  • 3DLDF – graphics package for producing three-dimensional technical drawings (especially for inclusion in TeX documents)
  • Dia – vector graphics program for creating diagrams
  • Gnash – player and browser plugin for the Adobe Flash file format
  • GNU LibreDWG – library for reading and writing .dwg files (used in CAD applications)
  • GNU LilyPond – music typesetting application
  • Gnu Maverik – Virtual Reality microkernel
  • Gnu Panorama – 3D framework, ray tracing


Business applications[edit]

  • GNU Health – free health and hospital information system
  • GNUmed – medical practice management software
  • GnuCash – financial accounting application
  • GNU remotecontrol[12] – a web application for managing building automation devices

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stallman, Richard (April 3, 2013). "Re: On the subject of Git, Bazaar, and the future of Emacs development". emacs-devel (Mailing list). Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Stallman, Richard (April 3, 2013). "Re: On the subject of Git, Bazaar, and the future of Emacs development". emacs-devel (Mailing list). Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Ramey, Chet (2011-02-16). "Bash-4.2 available for FTP". info-gnu (Mailing list). Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  4. ^ Brady, Pádraig (2014-07-18). "[coreutils-announce] coreutils-8.23 released [stable]". coreutils-announce (Mailing list). Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  5. ^ Poznyakoff, Sergey (2010-03-10). "cpio-2.11 released [stable]". info-gnu (Mailing list). Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  6. ^ a b Lemberg, Werner (2013-02-07). "groff 1.22.2 has been released" (Mailing list). info-gnu. Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  7. ^ Meyering, Jim (2013-06-09). "gzip-1.6 released [stable]". Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  8. ^ Ramey, Chet (2011-02-14). "Readline-6.2 available for FTP". info-gnu (Mailing list). Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  9. ^ subversion repository NEWS file of sysutils retrieved 2013-07-23
  10. ^ "GNU LibreJS". The Free Software Foundation. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  11. ^ Marston, Tim (2013-06-07). "GNU Typist 2.9.3 released" (Mailing list). info-gnu. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  12. ^ "GNU remotecontrol". FSF. 30 September 2013. 

External links[edit]