GNU lightning

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GNU lightning
Developer(s) GNU Project
Initial release January 19, 2001; 16 years ago (2001-01-19)[1]
Stable release 2.1.0 (February 7, 2015; 2 years ago (2015-02-07)[2]) [±]
Operating system Cross-platform
Platform GNU
Type Just-in-time compilation
License GNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License
Website Official website

GNU lightning is a free software library for generating assembly language code at run-time. Version 2.0, released in August 2013, supports backends for SPARC (32-bit), x86 (32- and 64-bit), MIPS, ARM, ia64, HPPA and PowerPC (32-bit).[3]

Advantages over other libraries[edit]

The features GNU lightning provides make it useful for Just-in-Time Compilation. In comparison to libraries such as LLVM or libJIT, GNU lightning provides only a low-level interface for assembling from a standardized RISC assembly language—loosely based on the SPARC and MIPS architectures[4]—into the target architecture's machine language.


It does not provide register allocation, data-flow or control-flow analysis, or optimization.

Instruction set[edit]

GNU lightning's instruction set is based loosely on existing RISC architectures.


When required instructions handle data with these 9 types:

Type C Equivalent
c signed char
uc unsigned char
s short
us unsigned short
i int
ui unsigned int
l long
f float
d double

Projects that use GNU lightning[edit]

Racket,[5] GNU Smalltalk,[6] and CLISP[7] make use of GNU lightning for just-in-time compilation. GNU lightning was first developed as a tool to be used in GNU Smalltalk’s dynamic translator from bytecodes to native code.[8]


  1. ^ "ChangeLog". GNU Project. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  2. ^ Andrade, Paulo César Pereira de (2015-02-07). "ANNOUNCE: GNU lightning 2.1.0 released!" (Mailing list). lightning. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  3. ^ Release announcement. 2013-08-23
  4. ^ "Using and porting GNU lightning". Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  5. ^ "Racket source code repository". Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  6. ^ "GNU Smalltalk project page". Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  7. ^ "Implementation notes for GNU CLISP". Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  8. ^ "GNU lightning user manual, acknowledgements". Retrieved 2014-05-17. 

External links[edit]