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Gnulib - The GNU Portability Library

GNU software has a well-deserved reputation for running on many different types of systems. While our primary goal is to write software for the GNU system, many users and developers have been introduced to us through the systems that they were already using.

Gnulib is a central location for common GNU code, intended to be shared among GNU packages. GCC has libiberty, but this is hard to disentangle from the GCC build tree. libit proved too hard to keep up to date, and at this point is moribund.

Gnulib takes a different approach. Its components are intended to be shared at the source level, rather than being a library that gets built, installed, and linked against. Rather, the idea is to copy files from Gnulib into your own source tree. There is no distribution tarball; developers should just grab source modules from the repository.

Gnulib also includes copies of a few files purely for convenience: the GNU coding standards, the GNU maintainer information, the GPL and other licenses (in Texinfo), assorted configuration scripts, and more. The goal is to provide all the common infrastructure needed by GNU packages.

Using Gnulib

You can browse the current gnulib sources on savannah.
You can also view the modules comprising gnulib.

To use gnulib, check out the sources via anonymous cvs (see instructions on the gnulib project page if need be). Then run ./gnulib-tool --help. For help or more info, email bug-gnulib@gnu.org.


The manual is still minimal and sketchy (volunteers especially welcome).

./gnulib-tool --help also provides some information, as mentioned above.

Contributing new routines to Gnulib

Please email bug-gnulib@gnu.org with information. Here are some guidelines, however:

All source code is copylefted by the Free Software Foundation. Assignment forms may be necessary before we can access your source code.

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Please send FSF & GNU inquiries & questions to gnu@gnu.org. There are also other ways to contact the FSF.

Please send comments on these web pages in general to webmasters@www.gnu.org (and bug-gnulib@gnu.org for this page in particular), and send other questions to gnu@gnu.org.

Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Updated: $Date: 2006/01/04 19:16:07 $ $Author: eggert $