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Using GCC Richard M Stallman and the GCC Developer Community
Published by GNU Press
ISBN:1-882114-39-6
427 pages
£ 25.14
Published: October 2003
reviewed by John Collins
   in the December 2004 issue (pdf), (html)
bookcover  

GCC stands for ``GNU Compiler Collection'' although it used to stand for ``GNU C Compiler''. The collection currently consists of compilers for C, C++, Objective-C, Java, Fortran and Ada. The compilers share common back-ends and it is possible to mix supported languages in a program compiled with compilers from the collection.

The compilers compile for and run on a wide variety of platforms and operating systems. It is quite easy to develop cross-compilers (although a working set of cross-assemblers and cross-linkers is required as well) and I personally use cross-compilers built from it almost daily.

Current language standards are adhered to, together with various extensions; however as always it is unwise to use these if your program is to be portable to systems not so blessed with GNU tools.

This book is very little more than a compilation of all the manual pages and other documentation found with the GCC source kit, so it starts off with all the options to the compiler to warn about this, optimise that and enable the other, with variations for the different languages and variations for different architectures and operating systems.

Then follow implementation dependent material such as the order of bitfields, extensions to the languages, useful utilities and problem reporting, some comments by Richard Stallman (such as the need to refer to Linux as ``GNU/Linux'') and a not very comprehensive index.

This book will have little new to offer to readers who have met the manual pages relevant to them either on Linux or, especially, all the manual pages, comments and README files in the GCC sources. It is well-written, interesting and clear as far as it goes but I would wish, for instance, that there were sections on porting GCC to new operating systems and developing cross-compilers, not to mention some discussion of the internals of the system.

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