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1. Introduction

Linux is a fascinating operating system because it lets any user participate in its development. The variety of available languages, however, can be confusing to beginning Linux developers. This document lists the most common options for everyday development and states some key facts about them. (Well, ``most common'' and ``key'' as I perceive them.)

My aim is neither to review the languages nor to determine which one is the best. Each language is a tool that fits some jobs and some tastes. You can get further (often conflicting) information easily, if you ask around or keep your ears open. The Links sections in this document will give you some pointers for your own research.

There is a plethora of languages and libraries for Linux, so this document only covers the most common languages and GUI (Graphical User Interface) toolkits at the moment. This document is intended to be fairly neutral, but I haven't included all languages available. Since my judgment is undoubtedly biased in many ways, I advise serious developers to check out the sites that do a better job in listing all languages and libraries. Also note that only the Linux implementations of the languages and GUI toolkits are covered, their features on other platforms are not discussed or implied.

This document is a recent addition to the LDP, so there has not been opportunity for much community feedback. However, it is released in hopes that it will prove useful for people interested in programming under Linux, especially beginners. A question mark in the tables indicates lack of information. If you can fill it in, please contact the author.

1.1 Latest Version of the Document

You can find the latest modifications at http://www.helsinki.fi/~rvaranka/Computer/Linux/HOWTO/

1.2 Copyright

Copyright (c) 2000 Risto Varanka.

1.3 License

The following license terms apply to all LDP documents, unless otherwise stated in the document. The LDP documents may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, in any medium physical or electronic, provided that this license notice is displayed in the reproduction. Commercial redistribution is permitted and encouraged. Thirty days advance notice via email to the author(s) of redistribution is appreciated, to give the authors time to provide updated documents.

Requirements of Modified Works

All modified documents, including translations, anthologies, and partial documents, must meet the following requirements:

  1. The modified version must be labeled as such.
  2. The person making the modifications must be identified.
  3. Acknowledgement of the original author must be retained.
  4. The location of the original unmodified document be identified.
  5. The original author's (or authors') name(s) may not be used to assert or imply endorsement of the resulting document without the original author's (or authors') permission.

In addition it is requested that:

  1. The modifications (including deletions) be noted.
  2. The author be notified by email of the modification in advance of redistribution, if an email address is provided in the document.

As a special exception, anthologies of LDP documents may include a single copy of these license terms in a conspicuous location within the anthology and replace other copies of this license with a reference to the single copy of the license without the document being considered ``modified'' for the purposes of this section.

Mere aggregation of LDP documents with other documents or programs on the same media shall not cause this license to apply to those other works.

All translations, derivative documents, or modified documents that incorporate any LDP document may not have more restrictive license terms than these, except that you may require distributors to make the resulting document available in source format.

1.4 Disclaimer

THIS DOCUMENT COVERS A LARGE AND CONSTANTLY CHANGING DOMAIN. THEREFORE, THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE INCORRECT OR OUTDATED. ALL USE OF THIS DOCUMENT AND ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN IT IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. THE AUTHOR DOES NOT GIVE ANY WARRANTY OR GUARANTEE, EITHER EXPLICIT OR IMPLIED.

1.5 Author

You are welcome to send feedback to the author at: risto.varanka@helsinki.fi.

Author's web site can be found at http://www.helsinki.fi/~rvaranka/.

1.6 Credits

I am thankful to several people who commented on language issues. These conversations have given me a better view of the different languages, and I hope future conversations will allow this mini-HOWTO to mature over time. Especially I would like to thank the people at the IRCNet channel #linux: Morphy, Bluesmurf, Vadim, Zonk^, Rikkus and others whose names I have forgotten. Thanks go also to Stig Erik Sandoe for helpful comments.

1.7 Links

Exhaustive lists of Linux development libraries and tools:

The Hacker FAQ by Eric S. Raymond is another interesting text for novice Linux developers. It concentrates on some cultural and psychological aspects of open source development.

Other LDP documents covering general programming subjects include the Reading List HOWTO and the Linux Programmer's Guide - several more have been written on specific subjects.


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