Next: , Previous: , Up: Top   [Contents][Index]

29 Compilation

Early in the manual we explained how to compile a simple C program that consists of a single source file (see Compile Example). However, we handle only short programs that way. A typical C program consists of many source files, each of which is usually a separate compilation module—meaning that it has to be compiled separately. (The source files that are not separate compilation modules are those that are used via #include; see Header Files.)

To compile a multi-module program, you compile each of the program’s compilation modules, making an object file for that module. The last step is to link the many object files together into a single executable for the whole program.

The full details of how to compile C programs (and other programs) with GCC are documented in xxxx. Here we give only a simple introduction.

These commands compile two compilation modules, foo.c and bar.c, running the compiler for each module:

gcc -c -O -g foo.c
gcc -c -O -g bar.c

In these commands, -g says to generate debugging information, -O says to do some optimization, and -c says to put the compiled code for that module into a corresponding object file and go no further. The object file for foo.c is automatically called foo.o, and so on.

If you wish, you can specify the additional compilation options. For instance, -Wformat -Wparenthesis -Wstrict-prototypes request additional warnings.

After you compile all the program’s modules, you link the object files into a combined executable, like this:

gcc -o foo foo.o bar.o

In this command, -o foo species the file name for the executable file, and the other arguments are the object files to link. Always specify the executable file name in a command that generates one.

One reason to divide a large program into multiple compilation modules is to control how each module can access the internals of the others. When a module declares a function or variable extern, other modules can access it. The other functions and variables defined in a module can’t be accessed from outside that module.

The other reason for using multiple modules is so that changing one source file does not require recompiling all of them in order to try the modified program. It is sufficient to recompile the source file that you changed, then link them all again. Dividing a large program into many substantial modules in this way typically makes recompilation much faster.

Normally we don’t run any of these commands directly. Instead we write a set of make rules for the program, then use the make program to recompile only the source files that need to be recompiled, by following those rules. See The GNU Make Manual in The GNU Make Manual.

Next: , Previous: , Up: Top   [Contents][Index]