Gambas, the BASIC IDE for Linux : Review!

Programming is an activity every geek needs (or wants) to indulge in. If you start early, it is always beneficial. That’s why BASIC was created, which was far simpler than its contemporaries, and could be taught to anyone, including kids. And whenever someone says BASIC, the word the comes to our mind is Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0. It was a software, I say far ahead of its time. Microsoft’s contribution to the coding world is undeniable!

Visual Basic needs no introduction. Visual Basic (VB) is an integrated development environment (IDE) from Microsoft for the BASIC language. Visual Basic is relatively easy to learn and use. The classic language, that introduces children to programming was made popular by VB only. But as Linux wasn’t as popular when VB was popular. So, hard luck for the Linux users. But the thing didn’t matter much. Linux was only for geeky professionals then and who’d introduce it to kids? But with the arrival of Ubuntu, things changed. The Linux for Human Beings was really simple and could be used by kids. And being free, it is now the most preferred OS for computer labs. And whatever happened to BASIC? It was Gambas.

Too much history, now its time to get straight to the point. Gambas is  an IDE for BASIC programming that not just resembles Visual BASIC but also functions like that, and I’m going to review it today.

To install Gambas, either go to Ubuntu Software Center and search for it or go to synaptic package manager and install the package gambas2-ide and other dependencies, which are automatically selected.

After that, start the program from Applications>>Programming>>Gambas2

You are greeted with a screen asking what to do. Of Course you have to create a new project, a Qt Graphical Application. Name the file and save it to a desired location. You’ll be shown the screen above.

Now let us create a hello world application.

  1. In the form drag a label (or more) and a button from the toolbar
  2. Set the label visibility to false using the properties toolbar
  3. Now double click on the button and typeLabel1.Visible=TRUE
  4. Now run the app. When you click on the button, the label becomes visible!
  5. Here’s my version of the hello world app!
Cool, ain’t it? If you are a beginner trying to get onto coding or a teacher searching for a free program to teach children, this app is just perfect. I really loved the imitation of VB, while it maintaining its own identity. With the tagline: Gambas almost means Basic, it does satisfy the geek in the young! A must download for anyone, new to the coding scenario.

Useful Links: Site  | Install Guide | Source Code .


  1. Gambas has great potential, but currently is being held back by a lack documentation with good examples. I will give you an example; In Gambas3, you have a new control called a ValueBox. It supposedly can handle currency, but there is no explanation on how to do it, or code examples showing how to do it. And the developer has admitted that the ValueBox needs to be re-designed.

    If your documentation is not ready for prime-time, then the application is not ready for prime-time.

  2. As a contributor to the Gambas project since 2003, I still believe in it. It’s a powerful tool for teaching object-oriented programming and converting legacy VB code into a more open form. For writing quick, powerful desktop apps, Gambas can’t be beat.

    But for someone new to programming today, I’d recommend learning Javascript/Jquery and then progressing into Ruby on Rails, or downloading the Android SDK to start learning Java. Neither of those is as easy as dragging and dropping controls onto a Gambas form, but they can both be done with free software (both have IDEs based on Eclipse), are both extremely well-documented and have many tutorials available, and they’re both more practical in the post-PC world than Gambas (or VB.NET, for that matter) is. Gambas only works on Linux, but Android has already overtaken Linux as a client-side OS (the under-US$100 tablets appearing now in India and China will only speed this up) and web apps can be run on anything if they’re written correctly.

    1. Thanks Mr. raindog for that comment. I was enthralled to see that one of the developers himself has commented! I love gambas and its implementation of BASIC. Drag and drop is a feature of many languages like C# and if you want, you can try out MonoDevelop for linux.

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