Eric S. Raymond Calls LLVM The "Superior Compiler" To GCC

Written by Michael Larabel in LLVM on 10 February 2015 at 08:37 AM EST. 126 Comments
Joining in on the heated discussion that originated over Richard Stallman voicing concerns over adding LLVM's LLDB debugger support to Emacs, Eric S Raymond has come out to once again voice his support in favor of LLVM/Clang and express his feelings that GCC's leading days are over.

Eric S Raymond, the prominent free software developer and original author of Emac's GUD debugger component, wrote the following message to the Emacs mailing list entitled "Defending GCC considered futile":
Speaking as the original author of GUD, I'm in favor of it supporting LLVM and everything else imaginable. But I hadn't been planning to weigh in on the question until I realize that Richard and everyone else may be carrying around a false premise: namely, that GCC's dominance in its functional category *can* be preserved.

I'm pretty sure this is not true. If the clang/LLVM people decide they want to eat GCC's lunch, they *will* do it. The reason has nothing to do with any philosophical issue but merely the fact that compiler technology has advanced significantly in ways that GCC is not well positioned to exploit. The clang/LLVM people have both a clean-sheet technology advantage and Apple's money to fund a high-quality implementation with; FSF cannot match either.

Already my own experiments suggest that LLVM is a superior compiler, by every metric I know of, at least in deployments that don't require bug-for-bug compatibility with GCC. If GCC were to vanish from existence tomorrow I'm not sure I myself would be even seriously inconvenienced. CC=clang in one dotfile; problem solved, done.

Obsolescence happens; this is nobody's fault. It will happen to clang/LLVM someday, too, but today is not that day.

I don't have to completely agree with FSF's strategic goals to advise that its planning needs to take this into account. The probable near future obsolescence of GCC means the positive positioning of Emacs is *more* important. The absolute last thing you want to do is make it less attractive to clang/LLVM users.

TL;DR: You can't beat clang. Join it.--
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