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In An Era Of Clang, Portable C Compiler Isn't Beloved

Compiler

Published on 12 February 2013 10:33 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Compiler
2 Comments

It's going on two years since the release of PCC 1.0, but there hasn't been any follow-on Portable C Compiler release nor is there much public-facing development activity happening.

In writing recently about new GCC features, a new PathScale EKOPath compiler, and other compiler-related advancements, I was curious to see what was going on within the Portable C Compiler camp. I was also reminded of the compiler yesterday when seeing its being used within the HelenOS micro-kernel OS project.

Sadly, there hasn't been a new PCC release since version 1.0 in April of 2011. The last news on the project was in January of 2012 when the compiler received limited support for the C++ language in its development tree.

The PCC development change-log shows the last activity being committed on 29 December 2012. In pouring through the change-log for its commits over the span of several months, most of the commits have just been minor in nature and nothing too noteworthy. I also haven't seen any PCC work related to supporting the newer C11 or C++11 ISO standards.

I did try building some of the common Phoronix Test Suite / OpenBenchmarking.org test profiles under this C/C++ compiler using the latest development code, but sadly there's still a fairly high failure rate on Linux x86_64 for PCC building the more advanced C language benchmarks. As a result, there aren't any benchmarks to deliver. The last PCC benchmarks I delivered are from last summer.

The Portable C Compiler is well past its glory days, but it's been around for decades and its development has been restarted multiple times. PCC will still probably be around for years to come as a lightweight C/C++ compiler, it's just not as developed and well-backed as GCC and LLVM/Clang. PCC for a while was very popular within the BSD camps due to its BSD license, but that attention has turned to LLVM/Clang as being the new "BSD compiler."

Those wanting to find out more about PCC can visit its website. Another lightweight open-source C compiler that hasn't been worked on much lately is the Tiny C Compiler but there the "QCC" fork is morphing into a C compiler using QEMU's code generator.

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