[linux-elitists] Nobody's favorite language? C++ and free software

Rich Bodo rsb@ostel.com
Thu Mar 27 00:48:56 PST 2003

I'm top posting because I deleted Don's question about a subset of
C++.  While I was compiling Mozilla I took a look at the Mozilla C++
portablility guidelines again.  IMHO, they outline a pretty good set
of C++ functionality to avoid:


There was a small C++ compiler that I tried about 5 years ago that ran
"embedded C++", which I see (googling) still lingers.  EC++ was a much
smaller subset than "mozilla C++".  Embedded C++ was proposed
primarily to make small code, but everyone knew the real reason was to
give "architects" the power to keep things like multiple inheritence
out of the hands of miserable code slaves.  The standard was useful,
but there was probably no reason for a seperate compiler to exist.
Anyway, a stron "portable" or "embedded" c++ movement never seems to
have materialized.  I like to blame Bill Gates for things like this,
but that's just me. ;)


Rich Bodo | rsb@ostel.com | 650-964-4678

On Tue, 25 Mar 2003, Don Marti wrote:

> Is it my imagination, or is the number of useful free software
> projects in C++ on the rise?  (I'm partly going by my Linux Journal
> inbox here.)
> For example, Xerces and Xalan at apache.org are in C++.
> (Do the people at apche.org REALLY think that if you're trying to
> look up the web server docs and your fingers slip and you type their
> site instead, that you'll leave your server spewing 500s while you
> look at porn?  Never mind.  Dumb question.)
> As I was saying, C++.  It seems like this language is hard to
> mention without someone coming up with one of many common criticisms.
> A good example is this late 2000 Advogato thread, which covered
> some key objections to C++ among free software developers:
> http://www.advogato.org/article/207.html
> I've tried to list a few from that thread, this list, and other
> sources.
> 1. Everybody knows C, few people know all of C++.
> 2. C++ is a Very Large Language
>   K&R, The C Programming Language, 2nd ed. -- 274pp.
>   Stroustrup, The C++ Programming Language, 3rd Special Ed. -- 1040pp.
> "It seems to me quite plausible that the complexity of the language adds
> to the time and cost of a full education in C++." -- Raph Levien
> 3. Unstable C++ ABI in late g++ 2.9.x, early 3.x
> 4. Some compilers still don't support ISO standard C++, so
> real-world projects end up falling back to a conservative but
> ugly subset that doesn't offer compelling advantages over C.
> (see, for example http://www.mozilla.org/hacking/portable-cpp.html)
> 5. GNU tools are slower at building C++ projects than those in C.
> 6. Binaries are "huge."
> 7. C++, because of its corporate success, is associated with non-fun
> projects.
> 8. Not enough beautiful free C++ code to set a good example, while
> there's lots of beautiful C.
> My question is -- now that we have GCC 3.2.x
> (http://gcc.gnu.org/gcc-3.2/ -- "A primary objective was to stabilize
> the C++ ABI; we believe that the interface to the compiler and the
> C++ standard library are now relatively stable.") and an increasing
> collection of interesting free software using C++, is it time to
> take a second look at this perhaps unfairly maligned language?
> --
> Don Marti                  Even if we don't get DMCA reform, loudly
> http://zgp.org/~dmarti     demanding DMCA reform is going to get the
> dmarti@zgp.org             injustice of the DMCA in front of the next
> KG6INA                     jury.  Make noise.  It counts.
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