13. Software Development
- Q: How Do I Compile
- Q: How Do I Port XXX
- Q: Can I Use Code
or a Compiler Compiled for a 486 on a 386?
- Q: What Does gcc -O6
- Q: What Do I Do About
Errors Trying to Compile the Kernel?
- Q: How Do I Make a Shared
- Q: Why Are My Programs
- Q: How To Prevent Errors when
Linking Programs with Math Functions
- Q: How To Program XYZ
- Q: How To Upgrade/Recompile
- Q: What Is a .gz
File? And a .tgz? And .bz2? And... ?
- Q: Where Are linux/*.h
- Q: Configuring Emacs'
Q: How Do I
A: Most Linux software is written in C and compiled
with the GNU C compiler. GCC is a part of every Linux distribution.
The latest compiler version, documentation, and patches are on
Programs that are written in C++ must be compiled with the
GNU G++ compiler, which is also included in Linux distributions
and available from the same place as GCC.
To build version 2.0.x kernels, you will need GCC version
2.7.2.x, approximately. Trying to build an early Linux kernel
with a different compiler, like GCC 2.8.x, EGCS, or PGCC, may
cause problems because of GCC related code dependencies. Kernel
versions 2.2, 2.4, and the 2.5 development kernels should compile
correctly with more recent compilers.
Information on the EGCS compiler is at http://www.gnu.org/software/gcc/gcc.html.
Note that at this time, the kernel developers are not answering
bug requests for earlier kernels, but instead are concentrating
on developing 2.5.x version kernels and maintaining 2.2.x and
2.4.x version kernels.
[J.H.M. Dassen, Axel Boldt]
Q: How Do I Port XXX
A: In general, *nix programs need very little porting.
Simply follow the installation instructions. If you don't know
and don't know how to find out the answers to some of the questions
asked during the installation procedure, you can guess, but this
tends to produce buggy programs. In this case, you're probably
better off asking someone else to do the port.
If you have a BSD-ish program, you should try using -I/usr/include/bsd
and -lbsd on the appropriate parts of the compilation
I Use Code or a Compiler Compiled for a 486 on a 386?
A: Yes, unless it's the kernel.
The -m486 option to GCC,
which is used to compile binaries for x486 machines, merely changes
certain optimizations. This makes for slightly larger binaries
that run somewhat faster on a 486. They still work fine on a
386, though, with a small performance hit.
However, from version 1.3.35 the kernel uses 486 or Pentium-specific
instructions if configured for a 486 or Pentium, thus making
it unusable on a 386.
GCC can be configured for
a 386 or 486; the only difference is that configuring it for
a 386 makes -m386 the default and configuring for a 486
makes -m486 the default. In either case, these can be
overridden on a per-compilation basis or by editing /usr/lib/gcc-lib/i*-linux/
There is an alpha version of GCC
that knows how to do optimization well for the 586, but it is
quite unreliable, especially at high optimization settings. The
Pentium GCC can be found on ftp://tsx-11.mit.edu/pub/linux/ALPHA/pentium-gcc/.
The ordinary 486 GCC supposedly produces better code for the
Pentium using the -m386, or at least slightly smaller.
A: Currently, the same as -O2 (GCC
2.5) or -O3 (GCC 2.6,
2.7). Any number greater than that does the same thing. The Makefiles
of newer kernels use -O2, and you should probably do the
Do I Do About Errors Trying to Compile the Kernel?
A: See the previous question regarding the header files.
Remember that when you apply a patch to the kernel, you must
use the -p0 or -p1 option: otherwise, the patch
may be misapplied. See the patch manual page for details.
ld: unrecognized option -qmagic means that you should
get a newer linker, from ftp://tsx-11.mit.edu/pub/linux/packages/GCC/,
in the file binutils-184.108.40.206.1.bin.tar.gz.
Q: How Do I Make
a Shared Library?
A: For ELF,
$ gcc -fPIC -c *.c
$ gcc -shared -Wl,-soname,libfoo.so.1 -o libfoo.so.1.0 *.o
For a.out, get tools-n.nn.tar.gz
from tsx-11.mit.edu/pub/linux/packages/GCC/src/. It
comes with documentation that will tell you what to do. Note
that a.out shared libraries are a very tricky business.
Consider upgrading your libraries to ELF
shared libraries. See the ELF HOWTO, at ftp://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/docs/HOWTO/.
Q: Why Are
My Programs So Large?
A: With an ELF compiler
This about ELF? glibc?), the most common cause of large
executables is the lack of an appropriate .so library link for
one of the libraries you're using. There should be a link like
libc.so for every library like libc.so.5.2.18.
With an a.out compiler the most common cause of large
executables is the -g linker (compiler) flag. This produces
(as well as debugging information in the output file) a program
which is statically linkedone which includes a copy of the C
library instead of a dynamically linked copy.
Other things worth investigating are -O and -O2,
which enable optimization (check the GCC documentation), and
-s (or the strip command) which strip the symbol information
from the resulting binary (making debugging totally impossible).
You may wish to use -N on very small executables (less than
8K with the -N), but you shouldn't do this unless you understand
its performance implications, and definitely never with daemons.
Q: How To Prevent Errors
when Linking Programs with Math Functions
A: Older run-time libraries included the math library
in the C run-time library. It was not necessary to specify the
math library separately when compiling. If the compiler generates
a message like this when linking a program that uses math functions:
/tmp/ccDUQM4J.o: In function "main":
/tmp/ccDUQM4J.o(.text+0x19): undefined reference to "sqrt"
collect2: ld returned 1 exit status
You need use the -lm option with GCC to link with
the math libraries:
# gcc -o program program.c -lm
Make sure also to use the statement #include <math.h>
in the source file.
Q: How To Program
XYZ Under Linux
A: Read the manuals, or a good book on Unix and the
manual pages (type man man). There is a lot of GNU Info
documentation, which is often more useful as a tutorial. Run
Emacs and type F1-i, or type info info if
you don't have or don't like Emacs. Note that the Emacs libc
node may not exactly describe the latest Linux libc, or GNU glibc2.
But the GNU project and LDP are always looking for volunteers
to upgrade their library documentation.
Anyway, between the existing Texinfo documentation, and the
manual pages in sections 2 and 3, should provide enough information
to get started.
As with all free software, the best tutorial is the source
The latest release of the Linux manual pages, a collection
of useful GNU Info documentation, and various other information
related to programming Linux, can be found on metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/docs/man-pages/.
Q: How To Upgrade/Recompile
A: See the Kernel HOWTO or the README
files which come with the kernel release on ftp://ftp.cs.helsinki.fi/pub/Software/Linux/Kernel/
and mirrors. See Where
Are the Linux FTP Archives?. You may already have a version
of the kernel source code installed on your system, but if it
is part of a standard distribution it is likely to be somewhat
out of date (this is not a problem if you only want a custom
configured kernel, but it probably is if you need to upgrade.)
With newer kernels you can (and should) make all of the following
targets. Don't forget that you can specify multiple targets with
$ make clean dep install modules modules_install
Also remember to update the module dependencies.
This command can be run automatically at boot time. On Debian/GNU
Linux systems, the command is part of the /etc/init.d/modutils
script, and can be linked appropriately in the /etc/rcx.d/
directories. For more information on depmod, see the manual
Make sure you are using the most recent version of the modutils
utilities, as well as all other supporting packages. Refer to
the file Documentation/Changes in the kernel source
tree for specifics, and be sure to consult the README
file in the modutils package.
Remember that to make the new kernel boot you must run lilo
after copying the kernel into your root partition. The Makefile
in some kernels have a special zlilo target for this;
On current systems, however, you can simply copy the zImage
or bzImage file (in arch/i386/boot/ to the
/boot/ directory on the root file system, or to a floppy
using the dd command. Refer also to the question, How
do I get LILO to boot the kernel image?
Kernel version numbers with an odd minor version (ie, 1.1.x,
1.3.x) are the testing releases; stable production kernels have
even minor versions (1.0.x, 1.2.x). If you want to try the testing
kernels you should probably subscribe to the linux-kernel mailing
list. See What
Mailing Lists Are There?.
The Web site http://www.kernelnotes.org/
has lots of information and links to other sites that provide
information about Linux kernel updates.
Also refer to the answers for, Why
Doesn't My PCMCIA Card Work after Upgrading the Kernel?
and How Do I
Get LILO to Boot the Kernel Image?.
A: Alternatively, on Debian GNU/Linux systems, get
a kernel source package from the Debian archive or from a Debian
GNU/Linux CD. Then, follow the directions in the README
file that is located in the kernel-package subdirectory.
Q: What Is a .gz
File? And a .tgz? And .bz2? And... ?
A: .gz (and .z) files are compressed
using GNU gzip. You need to use gunzip (which is
a symlink to the gzip command that comes with most Linux
installations) to unpack the file.
.taz, .tar.Z, and .tz are tar
files (made with tar) and compressed using compress.
The standard *nix compress is proprietary software, but
free equivalents like ncompress exist.
.tgz (or .tpz) is a tar file compressed
.bz2 is a file compressed by the more recently introduced
(and efficient) bzip2.
.lsm is a Linux Software Map entry, in the
form of a short text file. Details about the LSM project and
the LSM itself are available in the subdirectory on ftp://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/docs/.
.deb is a Debian Binary Package - the binary package
format used by the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. It is manipulated
using dpkg and dpkg-deb (available on Debian systems
and from: http://ftp.debian.org/pool/main/d/dpkg/.
If you use anonymous FTP, connect to: ftp://ftp.debian.org/debian/pool/main/d/dpkg/).
.rpm is a Red Hat RPM package, which is used in the
Red Hat and similar distributions.
.sit is a compressed Macintosh archive made with
StuffIt, a commercial program. Aladdin Systems Inc., the manufacturer
of StuffIt, has a free expander utility that will uncompress
these archives. You can download it at http://www.aladdinsys.com/expander/.
The file command can often tell you what a file is.
If you find that gzip complains when you try to uncompress
a file, you probably downloaded it in ASCII mode by mistake.
You must download most things in binary mode: get, to
download the file.
Q: Where Are linux/*.h
A: The files /usr/include/linux/ and /usr/include/asm/
are often soft links to the directories where the kernel headers
are. They are usually under /usr/src/kernel*/.
If you don't have the kernel sources, download them. Refer
to the answer for How
To Upgrade/Recompile a Kernel.
Then, use rm to remove any garbage, and ln to
create the links:
$ rm -rf /usr/include/linux /usr/include/asm
$ ln -sf /usr/src/linux/include/linux /usr/include/linux
$ ln -sf /usr/src/linux/include/asm-<architecture> /usr/include/asm
The assembly language files reside in architecture-specific
directories, so you need to link /usr/src/include/asm
to /usr/src/linux/include/asm-i386 on PC compatible
systems, to /usr/src/linux/include/asm-sparc on Sun
Sparc systems, to /usr/src/linux/include/asm-ppc on
PPC systems, and so on.
You'll also find that you may need to do "make config"
as in a newly-unpacked kernel source tree, to create linux/autoconf.h.
Emacs' Default Settings
A: Create a file in your home directory named .emacs
with the Emacs Lisp commands that you want to run every time
Emacs starts up. You won't see the file in the directory listing.
(The leading '.' tells ls not to display it, unless you
use the -a command line switch with ls.)
Any kind of Emacs Lisp statement will work in the .emacs
file, including entire defuns. Emacs uses lisp variables
and statements extensively, and many of the editing functions
are written in Emacs Lisp. For example, to enable word wrapping
whenever you edit a file that ends with .txt, add the
following statement. This is from the Emacs Texinfo help document
( F1-i, then m Emacs Return):
'(lambda () (auto-fill-mode1)))
This adds a statement that calls a hook function
whenever a text editing mode is entered for that buffer. The
value of text-mode-hook, which is a variable, to auto-fill-mode,
which is a function.
If you want to turn off the menu bar at the top of each Emacs
frame, add this statement:
And if you want to include an Emacs Lisp program that someone
has written, like msb.el (an enhanced, pop-up buffer
menu), make sure the lisp file is in a directory where Emacs
can find it (usually it will be named Site-lisp), and add these
statements in the .emacs file:
Most tasks have several possible solutions in Emacs Lisp.
Any task that can be programmed in Emacs Lisp is valid in the
.emacs file. For more information, consult the Texinfo
documentation. There is also a FAQ list for Emacs (refer to:
What other FAQ's are there for Linux? ).