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22.8.1 Older GNU C Inlining

The GNU C spec for inline functions, before GCC version 5, defined extern inline on a function definition to mean to inline calls to it but not generate code for the function that could be called at run time. By contrast, inline without extern specified to generate run-time code for the function. In effect, ISO incompatibly flipped the meanings of these two cases. We changed GCC in version 5 to adopt the ISO specification.

Many programs still use these cases with the previous GNU C meanings. You can specify use of those meanings with the option -fgnu89-inline. You can also specify this for a single function with __attribute__ ((gnu_inline)). Here’s an example:

inline __attribute__ ((gnu_inline))
inc (int *a)