How To Compile And Run a C/C++ Code In Linux

I am a new Linux user and student who used to write C or C++ programs on MS-Windows. Now, I am using Ubuntu Linux. How can I compile a C or C++ program on Linux operating systems using bash Terminal application?

To compile a C or C++ program on any Linux distro such as Ubuntu, Red Hat, Fedora, Debian and other Linux distro you need to install:
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  1. GNU C and C++ compiler collection
  2. Development tools
  3. Development libraries
  4. IDE or text editor to write programs

Step #1: Install C/C++ compiler and related tools

If you are using Fedora, Red Hat, CentOS, or Scientific Linux, use the following yum command to install GNU c/c++ compiler:
# yum groupinstall 'Development Tools'
If you are using Debian or Ubuntu Linux, type the following apt-get command to install GNU c/c++ compiler:
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install build-essential manpages-dev

Step #2: Verify installation

Type the following command to display the version number and location of the compiler on Linux:
$ whereis gcc
$ which gcc
$ gcc --version

Sample outputs:

Fig. 01: GNU C/C++ compilers on Linux

How to Compile and Run C/C++ program on Linux

Create a file called demo.c using a text editor such as vi, emacs or joe:

#include<stdio.h>
/* demo.c:  My first C program on a Linux */
int main(void)
{
 printf("Hello! This is a test prgoram.n");
 return 0;
}

How do I compile the program on Linux?

Use any one of the following syntax to compile the program called demo.c:

cc program-source-code.c -o executable-file-name

OR

gcc program-source-code.c -o executable-file-name

OR

## assuming that executable-file-name.c exists ##
make executable-file-name

In this example, compile demo.c, enter:

cc     demo.c   -o demo

OR

## assuming demo.c exists in the current directory ##
make demo

If there is no error in your code or C program then the compiler will successfully create an executable file called demo in the current directory, otherwise you need fix the code. To verify this, type:
$ ls -l demo*

How do I run or execute the program called demo on Linux?

Simply type the the program name:
$ ./demo
OR
$ /path/to/demo
Samples session:

Animated gif 01: Compile and run C and C++ program demo

Compiling and running a simple C++ program

Create a program called demo2.C as follows:

#include "iostream"
// demo2.C - Sample C++ program 
int main(void) 
{
    std::cout << "Hello! This is a C++ program.n";
    return 0;
}

To compile this program, enter:

g++ demo2.C -o demo2
## or use the following syntax ##
make demo2

To run this program, type:

./demo2

How do I generate symbolic information for gdb and warning messages?

The syntax is as follows C compiler:
cc -g -Wall input.c -o executable
The syntax is as follows C++ compiler:
g++ -g -Wall input.C -o executable

How do I generate optimized code on a Linux machine?

The syntax is as follows C compiler:
cc -O input.c -o executable
The syntax is as follows C++ compiler:
g++ -O -Wall input.C -o executable

How do I compile a C program that uses math functions?

The syntax is as follows when need pass the -lm option with gcc to link with the math libraries:
cc myth1.c -o executable -lm

How do I compile a C++ program that uses Xlib graphics functions?

The syntax is as follows when need pass the -lX11 option with gcc to link with the Xlib libraries:
g++ fireworks.C -o executable -lX11

How do I compile a program with multiple source files?

The syntax is as follows if the source code is in several files (such as light.c, sky.c, fireworks.c):
cc light.c sky.c fireworks.c -o executable
C++ syntax is as follows if the source code is in several files:
g++ ac.C bc.C file3.C -o my-program-name
See gcc(1) Linux and Unix man page for more information.

This entry is 7 of 13 in the Linux GNU/GCC Compilers Tutorial series. Keep reading the rest of the series:

  1. Ubuntu Linux Install GNU GCC Compiler and Development Environment
  2. Debian Linux Install GNU GCC Compiler and Development Environment
  3. CentOS / RHEL 7: Install GCC (C and C++ Compiler) and Development Tools
  4. Download and Install C, C++ Compiler on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL)
  5. Mac OS X: Install GCC Compiler with Xcode
  6. Where is My Linux GNU C or GCC Compilers Are Installed?
  7. HowTo: Compile And Run a C/C++ Code In Linux
  8. RHEL / CentOS Linux Install Core Development Tools Automake, Gcc (C/C++), Perl, Python & Debuggers
  9. HowTo Compiling C Program And Creating Executable File Under a Linux / UNIX / *BSD
  10. How To Install ncurses Library on a Linux
  11. Linux Find Out What Compilers Are Installed or Available On The System
  12. Linux Find Out GNU gcc Compiler Version Used To Compile Running Kernel
  13. Howto see output of C program in Linux or UNIX

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of SXI LLC and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.