New GCC 4.2.0 -- boon to developers, bore to distros

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Earlier this week, the GNU project announced a major release of the popular GNU Compiler Collection. GCC 4.2.0 introduces new features and several improvements for developers, but most of the distribution developers we spoke with aren't rushing to take advantage of the new release.

"The most important addition in GCC 4.2.0," says Baishampayan Ghose, an Ubuntu hacker, "is the merge of the GOMP branch into mainline GCC." The GOMP branch of GCC was created a long time back to implement OpenMP in GCC for the C, C++, and Fortran compilers. OpenMP eases the process of creating code that can run in parallel.

Implementation-wise, OpenMP is a platform- and architecture-independent application interface. It lets programmers write parallelized code wherein a master thread creates multiple "slave" threads to execute a code block in parallel and later merge back into the master thread. Ghose explains that the addition of OpenMP is a non-trivial improvement to the GNU Compiler Collection and will make parallel programming simple on Free Software operating systems.

There's also good news on the Java front.

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