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Using GNU CC on VMS

Here is how to use GNU CC on VMS.

Include Files and VMS

Due to the differences between the filesystems of Unix and VMS, GNU CC attempts to translate file names in `#include' into names that VMS will understand. The basic strategy is to prepend a prefix to the specification of the include file, convert the whole filename to a VMS filename, and then try to open the file. GNU CC tries various prefixes one by one until one of them succeeds:

  1. The first prefix is the `GNU_CC_INCLUDE:' logical name: this is where GNU C header files are traditionally stored. If you wish to store header files in non-standard locations, then you can assign the logical `GNU_CC_INCLUDE' to be a search list, where each element of the list is suitable for use with a rooted logical.

  2. The next prefix tried is `SYS$SYSROOT:[SYSLIB.]'. This is where VAX-C header files are traditionally stored.

  3. If the include file specification by itself is a valid VMS filename, the preprocessor then uses this name with no prefix in an attempt to open the include file.

  4. If the file specification is not a valid VMS filename (i.e. does not contain a device or a directory specifier, and contains a `/' character), the preprocessor tries to convert it from Unix syntax to VMS syntax.

    Conversion works like this: the first directory name becomes a device, and the rest of the directories are converted into VMS-format directory names. For example, the name `X11/foobar.h' is translated to `X11:[000000]foobar.h' or `X11:foobar.h', whichever one can be opened. This strategy allows you to assign a logical name to point to the actual location of the header files.

  5. If none of these strategies succeeds, the `#include' fails.

Include directives of the form:

#include foobar

are a common source of incompatibility between VAX-C and GNU CC. VAX-C treats this much like a standard #include <foobar.h> directive. That is incompatible with the ANSI C behavior implemented by GNU CC: to expand the name foobar as a macro. Macro expansion should eventually yield one of the two standard formats for #include:

#include "file"
#include <file>

If you have this problem, the best solution is to modify the source to convert the #include directives to one of the two standard forms. That will work with either compiler. If you want a quick and dirty fix, define the file names as macros with the proper expansion, like this:

#define stdio <stdio.h>

This will work, as long as the name doesn't conflict with anything else in the program.

Another source of incompatibility is that VAX-C assumes that:

#include "foobar"

is actually asking for the file `foobar.h'. GNU CC does not make this assumption, and instead takes what you ask for literally; it tries to read the file `foobar'. The best way to avoid this problem is to always specify the desired file extension in your include directives.

GNU CC for VMS is distributed with a set of include files that is sufficient to compile most general purpose programs. Even though the GNU CC distribution does not contain header files to define constants and structures for some VMS system-specific functions, there is no reason why you cannot use GNU CC with any of these functions. You first may have to generate or create header files, either by using the public domain utility UNSDL (which can be found on a DECUS tape), or by extracting the relevant modules from one of the system macro libraries, and using an editor to construct a C header file.

A #include file name cannot contain a DECNET node name. The preprocessor reports an I/O error if you attempt to use a node name, whether explicitly, or implicitly via a logical name.

Global Declarations and VMS

GNU CC does not provide the globalref, globaldef and globalvalue keywords of VAX-C. You can get the same effect with an obscure feature of GAS, the GNU assembler. (This requires GAS version 1.39 or later.) The following macros allow you to use this feature in a fairly natural way:

#ifdef __GNUC__
#define GLOBALREF(TYPE,NAME)                      \
  TYPE NAME                                       \
  asm ("_$$PsectAttributes_GLOBALSYMBOL$$" #NAME)
#define GLOBALDEF(TYPE,NAME,VALUE)                \
  TYPE NAME                                       \
  asm ("_$$PsectAttributes_GLOBALSYMBOL$$" #NAME) \
    = VALUE
#define GLOBALVALUEREF(TYPE,NAME)                 \
  const TYPE NAME[1]                              \     
  asm ("_$$PsectAttributes_GLOBALVALUE$$" #NAME)
  const TYPE NAME[1]                              \
  asm ("_$$PsectAttributes_GLOBALVALUE$$" #NAME)  \
    = {VALUE}
  globalref TYPE NAME
  globaldef TYPE NAME = VALUE
  globalvalue TYPE NAME = VALUE
  globalvalue TYPE NAME

(The _$$PsectAttributes_GLOBALSYMBOL prefix at the start of the name is removed by the assembler, after it has modified the attributes of the symbol). These macros are provided in the VMS binaries distribution in a header file `GNU_HACKS.H'. An example of the usage is:

GLOBALREF (int, ijk);
GLOBALDEF (int, jkl, 0);

The macros GLOBALREF and GLOBALDEF cannot be used straightforwardly for arrays, since there is no way to insert the array dimension into the declaration at the right place. However, you can declare an array with these macros if you first define a typedef for the array type, like this:

typedef int intvector[10];
GLOBALREF (intvector, foo);

Array and structure initializers will also break the macros; you can define the initializer to be a macro of its own, or you can expand the GLOBALDEF macro by hand. You may find a case where you wish to use the GLOBALDEF macro with a large array, but you are not interested in explicitly initializing each element of the array. In such cases you can use an initializer like: {0,}, which will initialize the entire array to 0.

A shortcoming of this implementation is that a variable declared with GLOBALVALUEREF or GLOBALVALUEDEF is always an array. For example, the declaration:


declares the variable ijk as an array of type int [1]. This is done because a globalvalue is actually a constant; its "value" is what the linker would normally consider an address. That is not how an integer value works in C, but it is how an array works. So treating the symbol as an array name gives consistent results--with the exception that the value seems to have the wrong type. Don't try to access an element of the array. It doesn't have any elements. The array "address" may not be the address of actual storage.

The fact that the symbol is an array may lead to warnings where the variable is used. Insert type casts to avoid the warnings. Here is an example; it takes advantage of the ANSI C feature allowing macros that expand to use the same name as the macro itself.

GLOBALVALUEREF (int, ss$_normal);
GLOBALVALUEDEF (int, xyzzy,123);
#ifdef __GNUC__
#define ss$_normal ((int) ss$_normal)
#define xyzzy ((int) xyzzy)

Don't use globaldef or globalref with a variable whose type is an enumeration type; this is not implemented. Instead, make the variable an integer, and use a globalvaluedef for each of the enumeration values. An example of this would be:

#ifdef __GNUC__
GLOBALDEF (int, color, 0);
enum globaldef color {RED, BLUE, GREEN = 3};

Other VMS Issues

GNU CC automatically arranges for main to return 1 by default if you fail to specify an explicit return value. This will be interpreted by VMS as a status code indicating a normal successful completion. Version 1 of GNU CC did not provide this default.

GNU CC on VMS works only with the GNU assembler, GAS. You need version 1.37 or later of GAS in order to produce value debugging information for the VMS debugger. Use the ordinary VMS linker with the object files produced by GAS.

Under previous versions of GNU CC, the generated code would occasionally give strange results when linked to the sharable `VAXCRTL' library. Now this should work.

A caveat for use of const global variables: the const modifier must be specified in every external declaration of the variable in all of the source files that use that variable. Otherwise the linker will issue warnings about conflicting attributes for the variable. Your program will still work despite the warnings, but the variable will be placed in writable storage.

Although the VMS linker does distinguish between upper and lower case letters in global symbols, most VMS compilers convert all such symbols into upper case and most run-time library routines also have upper case names. To be able to reliably call such routines, GNU CC (by means of the assembler GAS) converts global symbols into upper case like other VMS compilers. However, since the usual practice in C is to distinguish case, GNU CC (via GAS) tries to preserve usual C behavior by augmenting each name that is not all lower case. This means truncating the name to at most 23 characters and then adding more characters at the end which encode the case pattern of those 23. Names which contain at least one dollar sign are an exception; they are converted directly into upper case without augmentation.

Name augmentation yields bad results for programs that use precompiled libraries (such as Xlib) which were generated by another compiler. You can use the compiler option `/NOCASE_HACK' to inhibit augmentation; it makes external C functions and variables case-independent as is usual on VMS. Alternatively, you could write all references to the functions and variables in such libraries using lower case; this will work on VMS, but is not portable to other systems. The compiler option `/NAMES' also provides control over global name handling.

Function and variable names are handled somewhat differently with GNU C++. The GNU C++ compiler performs name mangling on function names, which means that it adds information to the function name to describe the data types of the arguments that the function takes. One result of this is that the name of a function can become very long. Since the VMS linker only recognizes the first 31 characters in a name, special action is taken to ensure that each function and variable has a unique name that can be represented in 31 characters.

If the name (plus a name augmentation, if required) is less than 32 characters in length, then no special action is performed. If the name is longer than 31 characters, the assembler (GAS) will generate a hash string based upon the function name, truncate the function name to 23 characters, and append the hash string to the truncated name. If the `/VERBOSE' compiler option is used, the assembler will print both the full and truncated names of each symbol that is truncated.

The `/NOCASE_HACK' compiler option should not be used when you are compiling programs that use libg++. libg++ has several instances of objects (i.e. Filebuf and filebuf) which become indistinguishable in a case-insensitive environment. This leads to cases where you need to inhibit augmentation selectively (if you were using libg++ and Xlib in the same program, for example). There is no special feature for doing this, but you can get the result by defining a macro for each mixed case symbol for which you wish to inhibit augmentation. The macro should expand into the lower case equivalent of itself. For example:

#define StuDlyCapS studlycaps

These macro definitions can be placed in a header file to minimize the number of changes to your source code.

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