GNU lightning

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GNU lightning
Developer(s)GNU Project
Initial releaseJanuary 19, 2001; 17 years ago (2001-01-19)[1]
Stable release2.1.2 (September 14, 2017; 14 months ago (2017-09-14)[2]) [±]
Operating systemCross-platform
TypeJust-in-time compilation
LicenseGNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License
WebsiteOfficial 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 (2017-09-14). "GNU lightning 2.1.2 released!" (Mailing list). lightning. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  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]