Why Google Chrome Switched To The Clang Compiler On Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in LLVM on 5 January 2015 at 05:02 PM EST. 83 Comments
Since a few months back Google switched from GCC to Clang for compiling their production builds of the Chrome web-browser on Linux. A Google developer has now shed some light on the switch with backing up their own reasons for switching to Clang.

The two main reasons for switching over to Clang as the default Linux compiler for Chrome came down to many Chromium developers already were using Clang on Linux and they wanted to use modern C++ features in Chromium. Google found it easier on Linux systems to switch to Clang for tapping newer C++ features rather than upgrading GCC on their systems from GCC 4.6 to GCC 4.8~4.9.

For now though Google is still using GCC for the compiler on Chrome for Android and Chrome OS. Google developers are also working to make using Clang more viable on Windows. Switching to Clang as the default compiler on Windows will be the biggest challenge for competing with Microsoft Visual Studio's generated binary size and performance.

Those wishing to hear the lengthy explanation for why Google switched to Clang for Chrome on Linux, there's a new post today at the LLVM blog by a Chromium team member.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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