Originally Published: Monday, 30 July 2001 Author: Matt Michie
Published to: develop_articles/Development Articles Page: 3/3 - [Printable]

Introduction to Programming on Linux

Linux.com editor Matt Michie takes a look at the first choices you need to make when contemplating learning to program on your Linux system.

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With Linux development there are usually two main tools that are first argued over. Vi or Emacs? Both of these text editors will allow you to input code, and much flamage has been written for both sides on which one is Superior. My advice is to try each one and see which one suits your style of development. I actually use both, for quick scripts I usually use vim, which has syntax highlighting and quick load times. For longer C projects, I tend to favor the Emacs integrated kitchen-sink environment.

GCC, the GNU C Compiler, is one of the best features of GNU/Linux. The compiler is stable, well documented, and is used to compile the majority of all free software. When you code C, you'll be using gcc. The GNU debugger gdb, has some nice features, but can be complex for a beginner to learn. Try ddd for your C debugging needs.

Other languages often have their own IDEs, but I recommend you stick to vi or Emacs when beginning so you can gain proficiency in an editor that you can use for multiple tasks and languages.


Linux is a developer's haven. The developers control the environment, and create tools to make their lives easier. Almost every programming language ends up with a compiler or interpreter that runs on Linux. There is extensive documentation and code available for a budding programmer to study. Sometimes the best way to learn is to read other people's code and see how they do business. Linux and open source leads the way in providing this. You can't go wrong with learning to code on Linux.



Matt Michie exists in the New Mexican desert. Please visit his web site at http://daimyo.org.

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