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Upgrading GCC to C++11 in Ubuntu

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In this article, we will guide you through the process of upgrading GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) to support C++11 in Ubuntu. This is particularly useful if you are working with C++ code that utilizes the features introduced in the C++11 standard.

Quick Answer

Upgrading GCC to support C++11 in Ubuntu involves checking the current GCC version, updating the package lists, installing the build-essential package, adding a PPA for a newer GCC version, installing the newer GCC version, setting it as the default version, and verifying the GCC version. After completing these steps, you should be able to compile and run your C++11 code without any issues.

What is GCC?

GCC is a free and open-source compiler system produced by the GNU Project. It supports various programming languages, including C, C++, Objective-C, Fortran, Ada, and others. GCC is standard on most Unix-like operating systems, including Linux distributions such as Ubuntu.

What is C++11?

C++11 is a version of the C++ programming language standard, published in 2011. It introduced many new features to the language, such as improved support for multithreading, automatic type deduction, and new syntax for creating objects and initializing arrays.

Checking Your Current GCC Version

Before we begin the upgrade process, it’s important to check the current version of GCC installed on your system. This can be done by opening a terminal and typing the following command:

gcc --version

This command will display the GCC version currently installed on your system. If the version is older than 4.7, it means that it does not fully support the C++11 standard, and you need to upgrade it.

Updating Your Package Lists

Before installing any new packages, it’s always a good idea to update your package lists. This ensures that you are getting the latest versions of the packages. You can do this by running the following command:

sudo apt update

The sudo command is used to run the following command as the root user. The apt command is a package handling utility in Ubuntu, and update is one of its options that updates the package lists.

Installing the build-essential Package

To install GCC, you need to install the build-essential package. This package includes GCC, as well as other tools necessary for building software. You can install it by running the following command:

sudo apt install build-essential

The install option of the apt command is used to install a package.

Adding a PPA for a Newer GCC Version

If the installed GCC version is older than 4.7, you need to add a PPA (Personal Package Archive) to get a newer version. You can do this by running the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-toolchain-r/test
sudo apt update

The add-apt-repository command is used to add a PPA to your system. The ppa:ubuntu-toolchain-r/test is a PPA that provides newer versions of GCC.

Installing a Newer GCC Version

After adding the PPA and updating your package lists, you can install a newer GCC version by running the following command:

sudo apt install gcc-<version>

Replace <version> with the desired version number, such as 9 or 10. This command will install the specified GCC version alongside the existing version.

Setting the Default GCC Version

After installing a newer GCC version, you need to set it as the default version. This can be done by running the following command:

sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gcc gcc /usr/bin/gcc-<version> 100

Replace <version> with the version number you installed in the previous step. The update-alternatives command is used to create, remove, maintain and display information about the symbolic links comprising the Debian alternatives system.

Verifying the GCC Version

Finally, you can verify that the default GCC version has been updated by running the following command:

gcc --version

This command should now display the newly installed GCC version.

Conclusion

Upgrading GCC to support C++11 in Ubuntu is a straightforward process that involves checking the current GCC version, updating the package lists, installing the build-essential package, adding a PPA for a newer GCC version, installing the newer GCC version, setting it as the default version, and verifying the GCC version. After completing these steps, you should be able to compile and run your C++11 code without any issues.

What is the benefit of upgrading GCC to support C++11 in Ubuntu?

Upgrading GCC to support C++11 allows you to take advantage of the new features and improvements introduced in the C++11 standard. This includes enhanced multithreading support, automatic type deduction, and improved syntax for object creation and array initialization.

How can I check the current version of GCC installed on my Ubuntu system?

You can check the current version of GCC installed on your Ubuntu system by opening a terminal and running the command gcc --version. This will display the GCC version information.

Do I need to update my package lists before installing GCC?

Yes, it is recommended to update your package lists before installing any new packages. You can do this by running the command sudo apt update in the terminal.

What is the `build-essential` package and why do I need to install it?

The build-essential package is a collection of essential tools and libraries required for building software on Ubuntu. It includes GCC and other necessary components. You need to install it to ensure that you have all the required tools for compiling and building C++ code.

How can I install a newer version of GCC if my current version is older than 4.7?

If your current GCC version is older than 4.7, you can install a newer version by adding a PPA (Personal Package Archive) that provides the newer GCC versions. This can be done by running the commands sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-toolchain-r/test and sudo apt update. After that, you can install the desired version of GCC using the command sudo apt install gcc-<version>, replacing <version> with the desired version number (e.g., 9 or 10).

How can I set the newly installed GCC version as the default?

To set the newly installed GCC version as the default, you can use the update-alternatives command. Run the command sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gcc gcc /usr/bin/gcc-<version> 100, replacing <version> with the version number you installed. This will create a symbolic link to the new GCC version and set it as the default.

How can I verify that the GCC version has been successfully updated?

To verify that the GCC version has been updated, you can run the command gcc --version in the terminal. This should display the newly installed GCC version.

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