Chapter 21. Programming Tools

There’s much more to Linux than simply using the system. One of the benefits of free software is that you can modify it to suit your needs. This applies equally to the many free applications available for Linux and to the Linux kernel itself.

Linux supports an advanced programming interface, using GNU compilers and tools, such as the gcc compiler, the gdb debugger, and so on. An enormous number of other programming languages—ranging from such classics as FORTRAN and LISP to modern scripting languages such as Perl, Python, and Ruby—are also supported. Whatever your programming needs, Linux is a great choice for developing Unix applications. Because the complete source code for the libraries and Linux kernel is provided, programmers who need to delve into the system internals are able to do so.[*]

Many judge a computer system by the tools it offers its programmers. Unix systems have won the contest by many people’s standards, having developed a very rich set over the years. Leading the parade is the GNU debugger, gdb. In this chapter, we take a close look at this invaluable utility, and at a number of other auxiliary tools C programmers will find useful.

Even if you are not a programmer, you should consider using the Revision Control System (RCS ). It provides one of the most reassuring protections a computer user could ask for—backups for everything you do to a file. If you delete a file by accident, or decide that everything you did for the past week was ...

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