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\input texinfo @c -*-texinfo-*-
@c %**start of header
@setfilename tasks.info
@settitle GNU Task List
@c This date is automagically updated when you save this file:
@set lastupdate September 22, 1998
@c %**end of header

@setchapternewpage off

@titlepage
@title GNU Task List
@author Free Software Foundation
@author last updated @value{lastupdate}
@end titlepage

@ifinfo
@node Top, Intro, (dir), (dir)
@top GNU Task List

This file is updated automatically from @file{tasks.texi}, which was
last updated on @value{lastupdate}.
@end ifinfo

@menu
* Intro::
* Highest Priority::
* Documentation::
* Unix-Related Projects::
* Kernel Projects::
* Extensions::
* X Windows Projects::
* Encryption Projects::
* Other Projects::
* Compilers::
* Games and Recreations::
@end menu

@node Intro
@chapter About the GNU Task List

If you did not obtain this file directly from the GNU project and
recently, please check for a newer version.  You can ftp the task list
from any GNU FTP host in directory @file{/pub/gnu/tasks/}.  The task
list is available there in several different formats: @file{tasks.text},
@file{tasks.texi}, @file{tasks.info}, and @file{tasks.dvi}.  The GNU
HURD task list is also there in file @file{tasks.hurd}.
@c to fix an overfill, join the paragraphs -len
The task list is also available on the GNU World Wide Web server:
@uref{http://www.gnu.org/prep/tasks_toc.html}.

If you start working steadily on a project, please let @email{gvc@@gnu.org}
know.  We might have information that could help you; we'd also like to
send you the GNU coding standards.

Because of the natural tendency for most volunteers to write programming
tools or programming languages, we have a comparative shortage of
applications useful for non-programmer users.  Therefore, we ask you to
consider writing such a program.

Typically, a new program that does a completely new job advances
the GNU project, and the free software community, more than an
improvement to an existing program.

Typically, new features or new programs advance the free software
community more, in the long run, than porting existing programs.  One
reason is that portable new features and programs benefit people on many
platforms, not just one.  At the same time, there tend to be many
volunteers for porting---so your help will be more valuable in other
areas, where volunteers are more scarce.

Typically, it is more useful to extend a program in functionality than
to improve performance.  Users who use the new functionality will
appreciate it very much, if they use it; but even when they benefit from
a performance improvement, they may not consider it very important.

@node Highest Priority
@chapter Highest Priority

This task list mentions a large number of tasks that would be more or
less useful.  With luck, at least one of them will inspire you to start
writing.  It's better for you to work on any task that inspires you than
not write free software at all.

But if you would like to work on what we need most, here is a list of
high priority projects.

@itemize @bullet
@item
If you are good at writing documentation, please do that.

@item
If you are very good at C programming and interested in kernels, you can
help develop the GNU HURD, the kernel for the GNU system.  Please have a
look at @uref{http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd/hurd.html}, and
then get a copy of the latest HURD task list from:

@itemize @bullet

@item
@uref{http://www.gnu.org/prep/tasks.hurd.html}, via the World Wide
Web.

@item
@uref{ftp://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/tasks/tasks.hurd}, via anonymous FTP.

@item
@email{gnu@@gnu.org} via e-mail.

@end itemize

@item
If you are a Scheme fan, you can help develop Guile.  Please have a look
at the URL @uref{http://www.gnu.org/software/guile/guile.html}
and then contact the Guile developers at @email{guile@@gnu.org}.

@item
Help develop XmHTML.

@item
Help develop software to emulate Windows NT on top of GNU systems.
For example, you could help work on Willows Twin.

@item
Implement the Kermit data transfer protocol.  (See below.)

@ignore This is being done (Harmony)
@item
Develop a free compatible replacement for Qt, a GUI toolkit library.  Qt
is not free software, because users are prohibited from distributing
modified versions.  Thus, Qt cannot be included in a free operating
system (adding it would make the system as a whole non-free).

But some developers are writing free applications that use Qt and cannot
run without it.  These programs, although free software, are useless for
free operating systems because there is no way to make them run.

This is leading to a serious problem, and a free replacement for Qt is
the only solution.  Hence the high degree of urgency of this project.
@end ignore

@item
Develop a free replacement for a semi-free program such as Xv or POV.
These semi-free programs are less restricted than typical proprietary
programs, but too restricted to be part of any free operating system.

@item
Develop a substitute, which runs on GNU systems, for some very popular
or very important application that many non-programmers use on Windows,
and which has no comparable free equivalent now.
@end itemize

@node Documentation
@chapter Documentation

We very urgently need documentation for many existing parts of the
system.

Note that there are proprietary manuals for many of these topics, but
proprietary manuals do not count, because we are not free to copy and
modify them along with the software they document.  For this reason,
we do not recommend any non-free manuals.

@itemize @bullet
@item
A C reference manual.  (RMS made a try at one, which you could start
with).

@item
Reference manuals for C++, Pascal, Fortran 77, and Java.

@item
A manual for Ghostscript.

@item
A manual for TCSH.

@item
A good free reference manual for Perl.  The free Perl on-line reference
documentation is good, for what it is--a list of functions and a
description of each--but that is not the same as a reference manual.
(Compare, for example, the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual with the
collection of documentation strings of Emacs Lisp functions.)

@item
A good free Perl language tutorial introduction.  The existing Perl
introductions are published with restrictions on copying and
modification, so that they cannot be part of a GNU system.

@item
A manual for PIC (the graphics formatting language).

@item
A book on how GCC works and why various machine descriptions
are written as they are.

@item
A manual for programming X-window applications.

@item
Manuals for various X window managers.

@item
Reference cards for those manuals that don't have them: C
Compiler, Make, Texinfo, Termcap, and maybe the C Library.

@item
Many utilities need documentation, including @code{grep} and others.
@end itemize

@node Unix-Related Projects
@chapter Unix-Related Projects

@itemize @bullet
@ignore
@item
Modify the GNU @code{dc} program to use the math routines of GNU
@code{bc}.
@end ignore

@item
A @code{grap} preprocessor program for @code{troff}.

@item
Less urgent: make a replacement for the ``writer's workbench'' program
@code{style}, or something to do the same kind of job.  Compatibility
with Unix is not especially important for this programs.
@end itemize

@node Kernel Projects
@chapter Kernel-Related Projects

@itemize @bullet
@item
An over-the-ethernet debugger stub that will allow the kernel to be
debugged from GDB running on another machine.

This stub needs its own self-contained implementation of all protocols
to be used, since the GNU system will use user processes to implement
all but the lowest levels, and the stub won't be able to use those
processes.  If a simple self-contained implementation of IP and TCP is
impractical, it might be necessary to design a new, simple protocol
based directly on ethernet.  It's not crucial to support high speed or
communicating across gateways.

It might be possible to use the Mach ethernet driver code, but it would
need some changes.

@item
A shared memory X11 server to run under MACH is very desirable.  The
machine specific parts should be kept well separated.

@item
An implementation of CIFS, the ``Common Internet File System,'' for the
HURD.  This protocol is an offshoot of SMB.
@end itemize

@node Extensions
@chapter Extensions to Existing GNU Software

@itemize @bullet
@item
Enhance GCC.  See files @file{PROJECTS} and @file{PROBLEMS} in the GCC
distribution.

@item
Interface GDB to Guile, so that users can write debugging commands in
Scheme.  This would also make it possible to write, in Scheme, a
graphical interface that uses GTK and is tightly integrated into GDB.

@item
Extend Octave to support programs that were written
to run on Khoros.

@item
Rewrite Automake in Scheme, so it can run in Guile.  Right now it is
written in Perl.  There are also other programs, not terribly long,
which we would also like to have rewritten in Scheme.

@item
Finish the partially-implemented C interpreter project.

@item
Help with the development of GNUstep, a GNU implementation of the
OpenStep specification.

@item
Add features to GNU Make to record the precise rule with which each file
was last recompiled; then recompile any file if its rule in the makefile
has changed.

@item
Add a few features to GNU @code{diff}, such as handling large input
files without reading entire files into core.

@item
An @code{nroff} macro package to simplify @code{texi2roff}.

@item
An implementation of XML (see @uref{http://www.w3.org/XML/}).

@item
A queueing system for the mailer Smail that groups pending work by
destination rather than by original message.  This makes it possible
to schedule retries coherently for each destination.  Talk to
@email{tron@@veritas.com} about this.

Smail also needs a new chief maintainer.

@item
Enhanced cross-reference browsing tools.  (We now have something at
about the level of @code{cxref}.)  We also could use something like
@code{ctrace}.  (Some people are now working on this project.)
@end itemize

@node X Windows Projects
@chapter X Windows Projects

@itemize @bullet
@item
An emulator for Macintosh graphics calls on top of X Windows.

@item
A music playing and editing system.  This should work with LilyPond, a
GNU program for music typesetting.

@item
An ephemeris program to replace xephem (which is, alas, too restricted
to qualify as free software).

@item
A program to edit dance notation (such as labanotation) and display
dancers moving on the screen.

@item
Make sure the Vibrant toolkit works with LessTif instead of Motif.

@item
A program to display and edit Hypercard stacks.

@item
A program for graphic morphing of scanned photographs.
@end itemize

@node Encryption Projects
@chapter Encryption Projects

These projects need to be written outside the US by people who are not
US citizens, to avoid problems with US export control law.

@itemize @bullet
@item
A free library for public-key encryption.

This library should use the Diffie-Helman algorithm for public key
encryption, not the RSA algorithm, because the Diffie-Helman patent in
the US expired in 1997.  This library can probably be developed from
the code for the GNU Privacy Guard (now in development).

@item
A free secure telnet program more or less like ssh/sshd.  Since this
requires a public key encryption algorithm, it should be based
on the library above.

This program should follow the draft standard for ssh.  As always, it
cannot implement the RSA algorithm, but must instead support the
alternatives that will be patent-free in late 1997.  It cannot support
IDEA, but can use triple-DES and/or Blowfish or other non-patented
alternatives.

@item
Free software for doing secure commercial transactions on the web.
This too needs public key encryption.
@end itemize

A free replacement for PGP is no longer listed here because the GNU
Privacy Guard will do that job.

@node Other Projects
@chapter Other Projects

If you think of others that should be added, please
send them to @email{gnu@@gnu.org}.

@itemize @bullet

@item
A program to reformat HTML source to make it easier to read as HTML.

@item
A simple PC BIOS.  On most new PCs, the BIOS is stored in writable
memory (misleadingly known as ``flash ROM'').  In order to have a wholly
free system on these PCs, we need a free BIOS.

This task is made simpler by the fact that this BIOS need only support
enough features to enable a boot-loader such as LILO or GRUB to finish
loading the kernel.  Neither Linux nor Mach actually uses the BIOS once
it starts up.  Also, it is not absolutely necessary to do all the many
diagnostics that an ordinary BIOS does (though it would be useful to do
some of them).  However, there may be a need to configure certain data
in the computer in a way that is specific to each model of computer.

@item
A free program that can transfer files on a serial line
using the same protocol that Kermit uses.

@item
An imitation of Page Maker or Ventura Publisher.

@item
An imitation of @code{dbase2} or @code{dbase3} (How dbased!)

@item
A general ledger program, including support for accounts payable, 
account receivables, payroll, inventory control, order processing, etc.

@item
A teleconferencing program which does the job of CU-SeeMe (which is,
alas, not free software).

@item
A free replacement for Glimpse, which is not free software.

@item
A program to typeset C code for printing, to make it easier to read on
paper.  For ideas on what to do, see the book,

@display
Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs,
Ronald M. Baecker and Aaron Marcus,
Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-10745-7
@end display

But you don't have to do exactly what they propose.

@ignore
@c This is now being worked on -- rms, 22 June 1998
@item
A program to convert Microsoft Word documents to text/enriched, TeX,
LaTeX, Texinfo, or some other format that free software can edit.
@end ignore

@ignore
@c People are helping the developer of siff release it as free software.

@item
A free replacement for siff (sometimes called sif).  This would be a
program to find similar files in a large file system, ``similar''
meaning that the files contain a significant number of common substrings
that are of a certain size or greater.  You can find some information
about siff (which is, unfortunately, not free software) at
@uref{ftp://ftp.cs.arizona.edu/reports/1993/TR93-33.ps.Z}.
@end ignore

@ignore
@c This is being developed -- rms, 3 May 1998
@item
A free replacement for the semi-free Qt library.
@end ignore

@item
High-quality music compression software.
(Talk with @email{phr@@netcom.com} for relevant suggestions.)

@item
A program to play sound distributed in ``Real Audio'' format.

@item
A program to generate ``Real Audio'' format from audio input.

@item
Programs to handle audio in RTSP format.

@ignore  @c Software patents have made this domain off limits to free software.
@item
An MPEG III audio encoder/decoder (but it is necessary to check, first,
whether patents make this impossible).
@end ignore

@item
Speech-generation programs (there is a program from Brown U that you
could improve).

@item
Speech-recognition programs (single-speaker, disconnected speech is sufficient).

@ignore Being done
@item
A program to display text word by word, always showing just one word at
a time.  This method permits much faster reading than ordinary text
display.  If you want to work on this, contact @email{stutz@@dsl.org} to
learn more.
@end ignore

@item
More scientific mathematical subroutines.
(A clone of SPSS is being written already.)

@item
Statistical tools.

@item
A scientific data collection and processing tool,
perhaps something like Scientific Workbench and/or Khoros,

@item
Software to replace card catalogues in libraries.

@item
A project-scheduling package that accepts a list of project sub-tasks
with their interdependencies, and generates Gantt charts and Pert charts
and all the other standard project progress reports.

@item
Grammar and style checking programs.

@item
A translator from Scheme to C.

@item
A fast emulator for the i386 which works by translating
machine instructions into the machine language of the host machine.
(Support for emulation of other machines would enhance the program
but might make it much more difficult.)

@item
A map display or geographic information system.

@item
Optical character recognition programs; especially if suitable for
scanning documents with multiple fonts and capturing font info as well
as character codes.  Work is being done on this, but more help is needed.

@item
A program to scan a line drawing and convert it to Postscript.

@item
A program to recognize handwriting.

@item
A pen based interface.

@item
CAD software, such as a vague imitation of Autocad.

@item
A program to receive data from a serial-line tap to facilitate the
reverse-engineering of communication protocols.
@end itemize

@node Compilers
@chapter Compilers for Other Batch Languages

Volunteers are needed to write parsers/front ends for languages such as
Algol 60, Algol 68, PL/I, Cobol, Fortran 90, or whatever, to be
used with the code generation phases of the GNU C compiler.

@c Fortran status is here so gnu@gnu.org and the volunteer coordinators
@c don't have to answer the question -len
You can get the status of the Fortran front end with this command:

@example
finger -l fortran@@gnu.org
@end example

@node Games and Recreations
@chapter Games and Recreations

Video-oriented games that work with the X window system.

@itemize @bullet
@item
Empire (there is a free version but it needs upgrading)

@item
An ``empire builder'' system that makes it easy to write various kinds of
simulation games.

@item
Improve GnuGo, which is not yet very sophisticated.

@item
A Hierarchical Task Network package which can be used
to program play the computer's side in various strategic games.

@item
Write imitations of some popular video games:

@itemize -
@item
Space war, Asteroids, Pong, Columns.
@item
Defending cities from missiles.
@item
Plane shoots at lots of other planes, tanks, etc.
@item
Wizard fights fanciful monsters.
@item
A golf game.
@ignore Being done by jhall1@isd.net
@item
Program a robot by sticking building blocks together,
then watch it explore a world.
@end ignore
@item
Biomorph evolution (as in Scientific American and @cite{The Blind
Watchmaker}).
@item
A program to display effects of moving at relativistic speeds.
@end itemize
@end itemize

We do not need @code{rogue}, as we have @code{hack}.

@contents

@bye
Local variables:
update-date-leading-regexp: "@c This date is automagically updated when you save this file:\n@set lastupdate "
update-date-trailing-regexp: ""
eval: (load "/gd/gnuorg/update-date.el")
eval: (add-hook 'write-file-hooks 'update-date)
End: