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Is it possible to build gcc without a c compiler already on the machine? If so, how?

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You can always get a binary... If you're getting into such considerations, you usually are pretty screwed. –  Antoine Benkemoun Jan 6 '10 at 17:56

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

What you're talking about is known as bootstrapping a compiler.

Typically this is done by cross-compiling the compiler on another machine for the target architecture. You can find some background here and here. It's not a trivial process, though. If your target isn't architecture that GCC already supports then you've got a lot of work ahead of you.

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I remember reading some old gcc installation instructions that were about building a minimal compiler with as and using it to build the real gcc. –  grawity Jan 7 '10 at 13:30
    
I've always thought that bootstrapping a compiler on a new architecture would be fun. Of course, designing a processor ISA and implementing it in discrete logic or FPGAs sounds like a lot of fun, too... smile Oh, if I only had free time... –  Evan Anderson Jan 7 '10 at 17:29

Wow - I'm only 99.9% sure but no, no I really don't believe you can.

That said it might be worth asking on SO.

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