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04 April 2011, 12:09

After more than 30 years: Portable C Compiler reaches version 1.0

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PCC Logo The developers of free BSD systems will be especially pleased that the Portable C Compiler (pcc) has apparently become sufficiently stable for a version 1.0 release. The pcc can by now compile most C applications under Linux, but it can't compile the Linux kernel itself. OpenBSD developers will be particularly interested because they can potentially use the pcc, which is released under the BSD licence, to replace the GNU C Compiler (gcc), which is licensed under the GPL. Many software developers consider the BSD licence to be more liberal than the GPL, especially when developing commercial products, because it doesn't contain a copyleft clause.

The Portable C Compiler was one of the first compilers for the C programming language, developed in the early 1970s. Although it had never reached version 1.0, it formed the basis of most C compilers in the early 1980s before being replaced by the gcc. After years of stagnation, the development of the pcc has seen a revival since 2007, when a developer team lead by Anders Magnusson began to rewrite the compiler to make it comply with the C99 standard. Magnusson estimates that more than half of the front end code and more than 80 per cent of the back end were rewritten in the process. The project was funded through contributions from such sources as the BSD fund.

In addition to the BSD licence, the compiler's advantages reportedly include portability, ease of use and fast response times. Future plans include a nearly-complete F77 compiler and a C++ front end that is mid-way through development. The compiler primarily supports Intel's i386 and AMD64 processor architectures; while other architectures are also supported, they apparently offer a less extensive range of features.


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