GNU C Library
|Original author(s)||Roland McGrath|
|Stable release||2.18 (August 12, 2013) [±]|
|License||GNU Lesser General Public License|
The GNU C Library, commonly known as glibc, is the GNU Project's implementation of the C standard library. Originally written by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the GNU operating system, the library's development had been overseen by a committee since 2001, with Ulrich Drepper as the lead contributor and maintainer. In March 2012, the steering committee voted to disband itself, in favor of a community-driven development process, with Ryan Arnold, Maxim Kuvyrkov, Joseph Myers, Carlos O'Donell, and Alexandre Oliva as non-decision making project stewards.
glibc was initially written mostly by Roland McGrath, working for the Free Software Foundation (FSF) in the 1980s.
In February 1988, FSF described glibc as having nearly completed the functionality required by ANSI C. By 1992, it had the ANSI C-1989 and POSIX.1-1990 functions implemented and work was under way on POSIX.2.
A temporary fork
When FSF released glibc 2.0 in January 1997, it had much more complete POSIX standards compliance, better internationalisation and multilingual function, IPv6 capability, 64-bit data access, facilities for multithreaded applications, future version compatibility, and the code was more portable. At this point, the Linux kernel developers discontinued their fork and returned to using FSF's glibc.
The last used version of Linux libc used the internal name (soname) libc.so.5. Following on from this, glibc 2.x on Linux uses the soname libc.so.6 (Alpha and IA64 architectures now use libc.so.6.1, instead). The soname is often abbreviated as libc6 (for example in the package name in Debian) following the normal conventions for libraries.
According to Richard Stallman, the changes that had been made in Linux libc could not be merged back into glibc because the authorship status of that code was unclear and the GNU project is quite strict about recording copyright and authors.
|0.1 – 0.6||Oct 1991 – February 1992|
|1.01 – 1.09.3||March 1992 – December 1994|
|1.90 – 1.102||May 1996 – January 1997|
|2.3.2||February 2003||Debian 3.1 (Sarge)|
|2.3.4||December 2004||Standard for Linux Standard Base (LSB) 3.0,||RHEL 4 (Update 5)|
|2.3.5||April 2005||SLES 9|
|2.3.6||November 2005||Debian 4.0 (Etch)|
|2.4||March 2006||Standard for LSB 4.0||SLES 10|
|2.5||September 2006||RHEL 5|
|2.7||October 2007||Debian 5 (Lenny), Ubuntu 8.04|
|2.11||October 2009||SLES 11, Ubuntu 10.04, eglibc used in Debian 6 (Squeeze)|
|2.12||May 2010||RHEL 6|
|2.13||January 2011||eglibc 2.13 used in Debian 7 (Wheezy)|
|2.15||March 2012||Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10|
|2.16||June 2012||x32 ABI support, ISO C11 compliance, SystemTap|
|2.17||December 2012||64-bit ARM support;||Ubuntu 13.04, RHEL 7|
|2.18||August 2013||Improved C++11 support. Support for Intel TSX lock elision. Support for the Xilinx MicroBlaze and IBM POWER8 microarchitectures.|
|2.19||January 2014 (Planned)|
Supported hardware and kernels
Glibc is used in systems that run many different kernels and different hardware architectures. Its most common use is in systems using the Linux kernel on x86 hardware, however, officially supported hardware includes: x86, Motorola 680x0, DEC Alpha, PowerPC, ETRAX CRIS, s390, and SPARC. It officially supports the Hurd and Linux kernels. Additionally, there are heavily patched versions that run on the kernels of FreeBSD and NetBSD (from which Debian GNU/kFreeBSD and Debian GNU/NetBSD systems are built, respectively), as well as the kernel of OpenSolaris. It is also used (in an edited form) and named libroot.so in BeOS and Haiku.
glibc provides the functionality required by the Single UNIX Specification, POSIX (1c, 1d, and 1j) and some of the functionality required by ISO C11, ISO C99, Berkeley Unix (BSD) interfaces, the System V Interface Definition (SVID) and the X/Open Portability Guide (XPG), Issue 4.2, with all extensions common to XSI (X/Open System Interface) compliant systems along with all X/Open UNIX extensions.
In addition, glibc also provides extensions that have been deemed useful or necessary while developing GNU.
Use in small devices
glibc has been criticized as being "bloated" and slower than other libraries in the past, e.g. by Linus Torvalds and embedded Linux programmers. For this reason, several alternative C standard libraries have been created which emphasize a smaller footprint. Among them are Bionic (based mostly on libc from BSD and used in Android), dietlibc, uClibc, Newlib, Klibc, musl, and EGLIBC (used in Debian, Ubuntu and Ark Linux).
However, many small-device projects use GNU libc over the smaller alternatives because of its application support, standards compliance, and completeness. Examples include Openmoko and Familiar Linux for iPaq handhelds (when using the GPE display software).
- Corbet, Jonathan (28 March 2012). "A turning point for GNU libc". LWN.net.
- Miller, David (2013-08-12). "The GNU C Library version 2.18 is now available.". info-gnu. http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/info-gnu/2013-08/msg00003.html. Retrieved 2013-08-14.
- "glibc homepage". "In 2001 The GNU C Library Steering Committee ..., was formed and currently consists of Mark Brown, Paul Eggert, Andreas Jaeger, Jakub Jelinek, Roland McGrath and Andreas Schwab."
- "Ulrich Drepper". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- McGrath, Roland (26 March 2012). "glibc steering committee dissolving". Sourceware.org. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Myers, Joseph S. (26 March 2012). "GNU C Library development and maintainers". Sourceware.org. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- "http://www.gnu.org/bulletins/bull4.html". "Most libraries are done. Roland McGrath [...] has a nearly complete set of ANSI C library functions. We hope they will be ready some time this spring."
- "GNU's Bulletin, vol. 1 no. 12". "It now contains all of the ANSI C-1989 and POSIX.1-1990 functions, and work is in progress on POSIX.2 and Unix functions (BSD and System V)"
- Lee, Elliot (2001). "A Technical Comparison of glibc 2.x With Legacy System Libraries". Archived from the original on 11 April 2004.
- "Forking: it could even happen to you". "the split between GNU LIBC and the Linux LIBC -- it went on for years while Linux stabilized, and then the forks re-merged into one project"
- "Fear of Forking essay, see "6. glibc --> Linux libc --> glibc"".
- "Fear of Forking, footnote on Stallman's merge comments".
- Bartley, David; Spang, Michael. "GNU/kOpenSolaris (GNU libc/base + OpenSolaris kernel)". Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Torvalds, Linus (9 January 2002 19:02:37). "Posting to the glibc mailing list".
- "Bionic libc README".
- "OpenMoko components". "We will use glibc (not uClibC) ... The alternatives may save more space and be more optimized, but are more likely to give us integration headaches"
- "Re: [Familiar] Which glibc for Familiar 0.8.4 ?". "Question: which version of the GLIBC was used to build the Familiar 0.8.4 ? Answer: 2.3.3"