Obtaining and Installing GCC


You wish to obtain GCC, the free GNU C/C++ compiler.


The solution depends on your operating system.


Install MinGW, Cygwin, or both.

To install MinGW, go to the MinGW homepage, www.mingw.org, and follow the link to the MinGW download page. Download the latest version of the MinGW installation program, which should be named MinGW-.exe.

Next, run the installation program. It will ask you to specify where you want to install MinGW. It may also ask you which packages you wish to install; at a minimum, you must install gcc-core, gcc-g++, binutils, and the MinGW runtime, but you may wish to install more. When the installation is complete, you will be able to run gcc, g++, ar, ranlib, dlltool, and several other GNU tools from the Windows command line. You may wish to add the bin subdirectory of your MinGW installation to your PATH environment variable so that you can specify these tools on the command line by their simple names rather than by their full pathnames.

To install Cygwin, go to the Cygwin homepage, www.cygwin.com, and follow the link InstallCygwin Now to download the Cygwin installation program. Next, run the installation program. It will ask you to make a series of choices, such as where Cygwin should be installed.

I'm explaining the Cygwin installation process in detail because it can be a bit complicated, depending on what you want to install. The process may have changed by the time you read this, but if it has, it will probably have been made easier.

The most important choice you must make is the selection of packages. If you have enough disk space and a high-speed Internet connection, I recommend that you install all of the packages. To do this, click once on the word Default next to the word All at the top of the hierarchical display of packages. After a possibly long pause, the word Default should change to Install.

If you are short on disk space, or if you have a slow Internet connection, you can choose a smaller selection of packages. To select just the development tools, click once on the word Default next to the word Devel. After a possibly long pause, the word Default should change to Install. For an even smaller collection of packages, expand the list of development packages by clicking on the + icon next to the word Devel. Select the packages gcc-core, gcc-g++, and make by clicking on the word Skip, opposite each package, causing Skip to change to Install.

When you are done selecting packages, press Finish. When the installation program completes, the Cygwin installation directory should contain a file named cygwin.bat . Running this script will display the Cygwin shell, a command-line environment from which you can run gcc, g++, ar, ranlib, dlltool, make, and any other utilities you chose to install. The installation process adds the bin subdirectory of the Cygwin installation to your PATH environment variable, so you can also run these utilities from the Windows shell cmd.exe. You will find, however, that the Cygwin shella port of the bash shellis a much friendlier environment for running GNU utilities.


Check whether GCC is installed on your system by entering g++ -v from the command line. If GCC is installed, and if C++ language support is available, it should print a message such as the following:

Using built-in specs. 
Target: powerpc-apple-darwin8 
Configured with: /private/var/tmp/gcc/gcc-5026.obj~19/src/configure 
--disable-checking --prefix=/usr ...

If GCC is not installed, or if it is installed without support for C++, you will have to install it yourself. In general this is a complex process that depends on your platform; among other things, you may have to install GNU make and the GNU binutils package. Detailed instructions are available at gcc.gnu.org/install.

If you use Mac OS X, the easiest way to obtain GCC is to download the Xcode development environment from Apple's web site and follow the simple installation instructions. Xcode is currently available at developer.apple.com/tools.

If you use Linux, some version of GCC should already be installed; type g++ -v to determine the version. The current version of GCC is 4.0.0; if your version is not relatively recent, use the package management system accompanying your Linux distribution to install the most recent version.


Cygwin and MinGW represent very different approaches to porting the GNU tools to Windows. Cygwin is an ambitious project to produce a Unix-like environment hosted by Windows. It provides a Unix-compatibility layer which allows programs written for Unix to be compiled and run on Windows. Consequently, an enormous assortment of Unix utilities are available for Cygwin. Even if you are not a Unix developer, you may soon come to regard the Cygwin tools as indispensable.

MinGW, which stands for "Minimalist GNU for Windows," provides a minimal environment for building Windows executables using GCC. Among other things, MinGW includes a port of GCC, a port of the GNU archiver and linker, and a port of the GNU debugger GDB. It also includes MSYS, a command-line environment capable of executing GNU makefiles and configure scripts. MSYS will be discussed in Recipe 1.14.

One important difference between Cygwin and MinGW relates to licensing. With a few exceptions, you can distribute binaries compiled with the MinGW port of GCC under any license you wish. Binaries built with the Cygwin port of GCC, on the other hand, are covered by the GNU General Public License (GPL) by default. If you want to distribute a program compiled under Cygwin without making the source available, you must purchase a license from Red Hat. For complete details, see the Cygwin and MinGW websites.

See Also

Recipe 1.14

Building C++ Applications

Code Organization


Strings and Text

Dates and Times

Managing Data with Containers



Exceptions and Safety

Streams and Files

Science and Mathematics






C++ Cookbook
Secure Programming Cookbook for C and C++: Recipes for Cryptography, Authentication, Input Validation & More
ISBN: 0596003943
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 241

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