more than 50 different software packages and 110MB of hard drive space. If you plan to
build programs for the Linux kernel, you need the Kernel development packages and an
additional 180MB of storage space (not counting temporary disk space required when
building a new kernel).
You should also become familiar with a good text editor. Although GNU purists use the
emacs editing environment to write, edit, and compile programs, many other developers
do just fine with an editor such as
vi or nano for editing source and then use the
command line to run development tools.
When programming for GNOME or KDE, you might find it most convenient to use a
graphical development project manager, such as GNOME’s Glade (the GTK+ User
Interface Builder,
glade-2), Trolltech’s Qt Designer (designer), or KDE’s KDevelop (the
KDE development environment,
kdevelop). These clients enable you to prototype an applica-
tion with graphical drawing tools, which frees you to concentrate on your client’s inter-
face. You can use either to automatically generate all necessary project and source code
files for skeletal applications. See the section “Graphical Development Tools,” later in this
chapter, for more information.
The Process of Programming
Many Linux C programmers start by writing a program that solves an immediate need,
such as a simple command-line program to download or upload phone numbers or other
data to a cellular phone or handheld computer. Many beginners get started by becoming
proficient in using a Linux text editor, researching any required software routines and
reading documentation, browsing available Linux source code, learning how to run a
compiler (such as
gcc, discussed later in this chapter), and then launching into the itera-
tive process of editing, compiling, executing, and testing.
The following sections in this chapter discuss some of the required or helpful software
tools included with Ubuntu. You also see how to create, compile, and run a simple C
program. You’ll also see how to use several graphical prototyping tools (such as Glade,
Designer, or KDevelop) to shorten the process of developing a user interface for graphical
programs; these tools can free up time and effort on those tasks, allowing you to concen-
trate on the core functions of your new program.
Elements of the C/C++ Language
The C programming language has its own syntax—a specific form in which all commands
and code must be written in order to be understood and processed by the computer
system. The syntax you should understand when beginning to program in C includes the
following:
. Comments—Comments are statements that document code and describe the
program. A comment begins and ends with special characters, such as
/* and */,
that tell the compiler to ignore all content between those characters.
Elements of the C/C++ Language
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