Updated GNU compiler adds Java, IA-64 support

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The Free Software Foundation released version 3.0 of the GNU Compiler Collection Monday, adding support for Java and Intel Corp.'s IA-64 processor.

A compiler is a piece of software that allows code written in a programming language to be turned into a format that a processor or operating system understands. The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) 3.0 adds support for native compiling of Java and code for IA-64 processors, includes rewritten support for 32-bit processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and improves support for the C++ language, according to a release. All the improvements allow the code generated by the compiler to run faster and on a broader range of chips, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) said.

The GCC is free software. Free, in this case, refers to the terms of the program's licensing agreement, rather than its cost. The compiler is released under the GNU Public License, or GPL, a widely-used licensing scheme in the open source, free software and Linux movements, by which the source code to the program is made freely available to its users, so they can inspect or change it. Free software can be sold (because it is free as in freedom, not free as in beer, as the maxim goes), but the terms of the GPL always stay with it.

The GPL is at the heart of Linux -- or GNU/Linux, as Richard M. Stallman, the founder of the FSF and creator of the original GCC, says it should be called for the sake of clarity -- and other open source software. Having a free compiler is necessary for a free operating system such as Linux so as to avoid dependence on proprietary or closed-source programs, Stallman said in the release.

The GNU Compiler Collection can compile C, C++, Objective C, Fortran and Java and is available immediately.

The Free Software Foundation, in Boston, can be contacted at +1-617-542-5942 or on the Internet at http://www.gnu.org/. The GCC is available at http://www.gnu.org/software/gcc/releases.html. More information about free software can be found at http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/free-sw.html.

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