Linux is a fascinating operating system because it lets any user participate in its development. The variety of available languages, however, can be confusing to beginning Linux developers. This document lists the most common options for everyday development and states some key facts about them. (Well, ``most common'' and ``key'' as I perceive them.)
My aim is neither to review the languages nor to determine which one is the best. Each language is a tool that fits some jobs and some tastes. You can get further (often conflicting) information easily, if you ask around or keep your ears open. The Links sections in this document will give you some pointers for your own research.
There is a plethora of languages and libraries for Linux, so this document only covers the most common languages and GUI (Graphical User Interface) toolkits at the moment. This document is intended to be fairly neutral, but I haven't included all languages available. Since my judgment is undoubtedly biased in many ways, I advise serious developers to check out the sites that do a better job in listing all languages and libraries. Also note that only the Linux implementations of the languages and GUI toolkits are covered, their features on other platforms are not discussed or implied.
This document is a recent addition to the LDP, so there has not been opportunity for much community feedback. However, it is released in hopes that it will prove useful for people interested in programming under Linux, especially beginners. A question mark in the tables indicates lack of information. If you can fill it in, please contact the author.
You can find the latest modifications at http://www.helsinki.fi/~rvaranka/Computer/Linux/HOWTO/
Copyright (c) 2000 Risto Varanka.
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I am thankful to several people who commented on language issues. These conversations have given me a better view of the different languages, and I hope future conversations will allow this mini-HOWTO to mature over time. Especially I would like to thank the people at the IRCNet channel #linux: Morphy, Bluesmurf, Vadim, Zonk^, Rikkus and others whose names I have forgotten. Thanks go also to Stig Erik Sandoe for helpful comments.
Exhaustive lists of Linux development libraries and tools:
The Hacker FAQ by Eric S. Raymond is another interesting text for novice Linux developers. It concentrates on some cultural and psychological aspects of open source development.
Other LDP documents covering general programming subjects include the Reading List HOWTO and the Linux Programmer's Guide - several more have been written on specific subjects.