GNUstep Might Deprecate Support For GNU's GCC In Favor Of LLVM Clang
Written by Michael Larabel in GNU on 24 November 2019 at 02:53 AM EST. 28 Comments
GNU --
GNUstep, the longstanding GNU Project implementing Apple's Cocoa frameworks, might end up deprecating support for the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) to focus its compiler support on LLVM's Clang.

While GNUstep deprecating support for the GNU's own compiler may seem like an odd move to make, it comes down to LLVM's Clang compiler currently having much better support for Objective-C 2.0 compared to what is found in GCC -- thanks to Apple's contributions to Clang and using it on macOS/iOS. Implementing all of the missing Objective-C 2.0 features into GCC is estimated to take two to three engineering years. If they had an interested developer, some view that the resources could be better spent investing in GNUstep itself with different projects rather than implementing features in GCC already found within Clang.

GCC has some Objective-C 2.0 support but is missing block support, template support, ARC, and other v2.0 features. With more application developers these days focusing on Apple's Swift language, it's unlikely there is enough committed developers with the resources to advance GCC's Objective-C support in a meaningful manner.

There is also at least one developer calling for a possible translator to be written to take Objective-C 2.0 to 1.0, which is better supported by GCC, but would still be a lot of work and would be potentially losing out on newer language features.

A Phoronix reader pointed out this GNUstep mailing list discussion about the missing Objective-C 2.0 features from GCC and what they should do about it in the context of GNUstep. It does appear there is a lot of support for deprecating GCC and just focusing on the first-rate Clang support, but the developers would likely take it to a referendum first to ensure there is enough support behind such a move.
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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 or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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