GNU Compiler for Java

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GNU Compiler for Java
Developer(s)The GNU Project
Initial releaseSeptember 6, 1998; 24 years ago (1998-09-06)[1]
Final release
6.5[2] Edit this on Wikidata / 26 October 2018
Operating systemUnix-like
LicenseGNU GPL

The GNU Compiler for Java (GCJ) is a free compiler for the Java programming language. It was part of the GNU Compiler Collection for over ten years but as of 2017 it is no longer maintained and will not be part of future releases.[3][4]

GCJ compiles Java source code to Java virtual machine (JVM) bytecode or to machine code for a number of CPU architectures. It could also compile class files and whole JARs that contain bytecode into machine code.[5][6]


The GCJ runtime-libraries original source is from GNU Classpath project, but there is a code difference between the libgcj libraries. GCJ 4.3 uses the Eclipse Compiler for Java as a front-end.[7]

In 2007, a lot of work was done to implement support for Java's two graphical APIs in GNU Classpath: AWT and Swing. Software support for AWT is still in development. "Once AWT support is working then Swing support can be considered. There is at least one free-software partial implementations of Swing that may be usable.".[8] The GNU CLASSPATH was never completed to even Java 1.2 status and now appears to have been abandoned completely.

As of 2015, there were no new developments announced from GCJ and the product was in maintenance mode, with open-source Java toolchain development mostly happening within OpenJDK.[9] GCJ was removed from the GCC trunk on September 30, 2016.[10][11] Announcement of its removal was made with the release of the GCC 7.1, which does not contain it.[12] GCJ remains part of GCC 6.


The compilation function in GCJ should have a faster start-up time than the equivalent bytecode launched in a JVM when compiling Java code into machine code.[13]

Compiled Native Interface (CNI)[edit]

The Compiled Native Interface (CNI), previously named "Cygnus Native Interface", is a software framework for the GCJ that allows Java code to call, and be called by, native applications (programs specific to a hardware and operating-system platform) and libraries written in C++.

CNI closely resembles the JNI (Java Native Interface) framework which comes as a standard with various Java virtual machines.

Comparison of language use[edit]

The authors of CNI claim for various advantages over JNI:[14]

We use CNI because we think it is a better solution, especially for a Java implementation that is based on the idea that Java is just another programming language that can be implemented using standard compilation techniques. Given that, and the idea that languages implemented using Gcc should be compatible where it makes sense, it follows that the Java calling convention should be as similar as practical to that used for other languages, especially C++, since we can think of Java as a subset of C++. CNI is just a set of helper functions and conventions built on the idea that C++ and Java have the *same* calling convention and object layout; they are binary compatible. (This is a simplification, but close enough.)

CNI depends on Java classes appearing as C++ classes. For example,[15] given a Java class,

public class Int
   public int i;
   public Int(int i) { this.i = i; }
   public static Int zero = new Int(0);

one can use the class thus:

#include <gcj/cni.h>
#include <Int>

Int *mult(Int *p, int k)
  if (k == 0)
    return Int::zero;  // Static member access.
  return new Int(p->i * k);

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anthony Green, Cygnus Solutions. "GCJ announcement".
  2. ^ "GCC Releases - GNU Project".
  3. ^ "GCJ: The GNU Compiler for Java - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)". Archived from the original on 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
  4. ^ Campbell, Bill (2013). Introduction to Compiler Construction in a Java World. CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 978-1-4398-6088-5. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  5. ^ "Compiling Java with GCJ | Linux Journal".
  6. ^ "GNU Compiler for Java".
  7. ^ "gcj to use Eclipse compiler as a front end". 2007-01-08. Archived from the original on 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2007-05-20.
  8. ^ The GCJ FAQ
  9. ^ GCC Looks To Turn Off Java, Replace With Go Or ADA
  10. ^ Andrew Haley (September 30, 2016). "[gcc] Revision 240661".
  11. ^ Tromey, Tom (October 2, 2016). "The Deletion of gcj". The Cliffs of Inanity. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  12. ^ "GCC 7 Release Series: Changes, New Features, and Fixes". Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  13. ^ "GCJ: The GNU Static Java Compiler" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  14. ^ The GCJ FAQ – GNU Project – Free Software Foundation (FSF)
  15. ^ The example comes from: Archived 2016-10-20 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]