GCC wins lifetime achievement award - and also takes heat from Linus Torvalds

The venerable GNU compiler wins the ACM’s Programming Languages Software Award while simultaneously coming under fire from the Linux creator

gnu-600x450_0.jpgImage credit: flickr/Brad Montgomery (license)
GNU's compiler has been recognized for 27 years of service to the software community

The GNU Compiler Collection, better known as GCC, was recently awarded the ACM’s Programming Languages Software Award for 2014. The award is granted annually to individuals or institutions that develop software which has a “

significant impact
” on the programming world. The award has only been given out since 2010 and GCC follows previous winners the Coq proof assistant (2013), the Jikes Research Virtual Machine (JRVM, 2012), Simon Peyton Jones and Simon Marlow for authoring the Glasgow Haskell Compiler (GHC, 2011) and Chris Lattner for developing the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure (2010).

In recognizing GCC, the ACM noted the contributions that the project and its developers have made over its 27-year lifespan.

“The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) provides a portable, production-quality, standards-compliant, highly optimizing compiler, supporting more architectures, programming languages, and operating environments than any other comparable tool. It provides the toolchain that underpins all of the GNU/Linux distributions, popular websites, and embedded environments.”

The award comes with a $2,500 cash prize, which will be donated to the Free Software Foundation, GCC’s distributor.

Not long after the ACM showed its appreciation for GCC, the compiler took some heat from Linus Torvalds after he found a bug in GCC 4.9.0 when compiling the Linux kernel. In a typically entertaining note about the issue to the Linux Kernel mailing list, Torvalds, who is almost as famous for his rants as he is for being the creator of Linux, wrote that GCC 4.9.0 “seems to be terminally broken,” and that the compiler “shouldn't have been allowed to graduate from kindergarten.” The bug Torvalds found was apparently a duplicate of one that existed in earlier versions of the compiler and has since been fixed.

In any case, it’s been an exciting couple of weeks for GCC. Who says compilers are boring?

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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