Project of the Month, September 2011

By Community Team


GCompris is a high-quality educational software suite comprised of numerous activities for children aged two to 10. Some of the activities are game-oriented, but are nonetheless still educational.

Below you can find a list of categories with some of the activities available in that category.

  • * Computer discovery: keyboard, mouse, different mouse gestures
  • * Algebra: table memory, enumeration, double entry table, mirrors
  • * Scientific images: the canal lock, the water cycle, the submarine
  • * Geographical simulation: place the country on the map
  • * Games: reading, chess, memory, connect four, oware, sudoku
  • * Other practice: learn to tell time, puzzles of famous paintings
  • * Vector drawing and cartoon making

Currently GCompris offers in excess of 100 activities and more are being developed. GCompris is free software, that means that you can adapt it to your own needs, improve it and — most important — share it with children everywhere. GCompris is distributed worldwide and translated into over 60 languages, which is unique for this type of software.

Why and how did you get started?

In 2000, I couldn’t find any quality educational software on the GNU/Linux platform so I started to write GCompris. From the beginning I chose to develop it under a free software model and placed my creation under the free GNU/GPL license.

Who is the software’s intended audience?

The end users are children from two to 10 but GCompris is usually selected by parents and teachers searching for educational software.

What are a couple of notable examples of how people are using your software?

I have been surprised to see GCompris being used to help disabled children, by adults in hospitals for functional re-education, and also by retired persons who are discovering the computer for the first time.

What are the system requirements for your software, and what do people need to know about getting it set up and running?

For GNU/Linux it is usually packaged by their distribution. For Windows and Mac, users just download a binary installer from SourceForge.

What gave you an indication that your project was becoming successful?

At first the mailing list, then forums talking about GCompris, then TV shows. Also the number of downloads gives a good indication.

What has been your biggest surprise?

Reaching 1,000 downloads a day was a big surprise to me.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Having continued input from the community over the years is a challenge. Thankfully, some projects (like the listening experiments lead by’s regular posters) have helped in many aspects, like the development of the preset-based encodings and fine-tuning.

Why do you think your project has been so well received?

They are few competitors in this area in the free software world. In the proprietary world there are a lot of small software [options] but they tend to be obsolete very fast and are not available in many languages.

What advice would you give to a project that’s just starting out?

Be prepared for a long run because writing good software takes a lot of time. For day-to-day choices, keep focused on your idea. Try to keep everything simple to use because it will also be easier to maintain objects, build upon it to add bells and whistles over there. As an example, we provide an MP3 encoder library and other people in other projects write GUIs and even decoders.

Where do you see your project going?

I have a lot of ideas but not so much time. Once I have completed the maintenance task and support, I don’t have much time to create new things.

What’s on your project wish list?

My plan is to add some activities in the language-learning area. While GCompris can be used to some degree to practice a foreign language, there is no activity dedicated to that.

What are you most proud of?

Starting the project in the first place was a very good idea. Continuing to improve it over all these years is, to me, my biggest accomplishment.

If you could change something about the project, what would it be?

Sometimes I think I should have selected a different development platform instead of GTK. A project like GCompris could be a web application but when I looked at it more closely I realized that has also its own issues. So, after some testing I decided to not pursue that idea.

How do you coordinate the project?

I never make assignments, contributors are free to come and provide patches. On the mailing list, I sometimes request help on some topics.

How many hours a month do you and/or your team devote to the project?

It depends on my motivation. I sometimes go into low-profile mode in which I spend only a couple of hours a week. But when I am working on new features, I can spend more than 40 hours a week on GCompris.

What is your development environment like?

I have several computers, however my main operating system is Ubuntu. I cross compile GCompris for Windows on Linux, but I have a VirtualBox with Windows to test it. I also have a MacBook to maintain and package the MacOSX version.

What is your release schedule like?

We do many releases with small improvements. Currently the release cycle is about two versions per year.

How can others contribute?

We maintain a list here to offer ideas to potential contributors, but anyone can come up with their own ideas.

For the first time this year, GCompris participated in
Google Summer of Code. We got 2 students: Srishti Sethi did some
activities to help children discover the Braille code and Karthik
Subramanian created some activities in the music area.

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More projects of the month

Project name: GCompris

Date founded: 2000

Project page:

Project Leader

Bruno Coudoin

Bruno Coudoin

Occupation:Software engineer in Industrial Testing in the Aeronautic area

Location:Toulouse, France

Education:Master’s degree in Computing

Why did you place the project on

In 2000, it was an obvious choice. It provided a good infrastructure to host free software.

How has helped your project succeed? makes it easy for anyone to search for free software. GCompris is well indexed by

What is the number one benefit of using

GCompris is large software package of more than 150MB. With 1,000 download a day, it makes 150GB per day. That’s a lot and I am pleased to see taking care of it.

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