Re: Linux without the GNU toolchain?

From: Mark South (mark.south_at_null.invalid)
Date: 10/13/05

Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 19:39:19 +0200

On Thu, 13 Oct 2005 15:50:39 +0000, Unruh wrote:

> Mark South <mark.south@null.invalid> writes:
>>Background: We all hear endless arguments about whether it's "Linux"
>>or "GNU/Linux", all irresolveable given the way they are argued.
>>Question: is it possible to build a Linux system without using the GNU
>>toolchain? For example, from my meagre researches I know that the Tiny C
>>Compiler is claimed to be able to compile the Linux kernel.
>>I'd be interested to hear a discussion on this subject, especially if it
>>doesn't immediately degenerate into an argument of the type mentioned in
>>the first line above. Especially interesting is the general question of
>>which GNU tools are irreplaceable, if any.
>>Thanks in advance for sharing your valuable knowledge and insights.
> Linux is the kernel. Sure you can have the kernel without any tools, but it
> is usually, but not always pretty useless.

I'll try to expand on the question, since your answer shows that it may
not have been as clear as I wished.

Put it this way, there are several ways of viewing the question, but the
ones that I was thinking of are:

VERSION A: To have a Linux kernel plus other stuff
that will enable a system to boot up and arrive at a working shell prompt
with a basic selection of tools, what are the elements of the toolchain
that are ABSOLUTELY necessary?

VERSION B: Linux From Scratch uses a toolchain to build the kernel and its
ancillaries plus bootloader, shell, basic binutils. Which parts of the
toolchain are essential, and which could one do without (possibly at the
cost of some inconvenience)?

> I suspect most embedded uses of
> Linux do not use the GNU tools.

I note that even using the GNU tools, one can build sub-10MB systems
fitting the above description.

> HOwever, for use as an operating system,
> the tools are pretty essential. Now, which could be gotten rid of will
> depend totally on what you want to do.

Oh, sure, if one wants to play audio afterwards then one needs audio tools
&c. I'm not asking about that.

> If you do not use a tool, you do not
> need it. If you use it, you need it.


> What you use and what I use could be
> entirely different. Ie, your question is unanswerable.

The question is unanswerable as you put it, but if you object to the
question then please give me a fair chance (and make a reasonable effort
to help me) to refine it so that it is answerable. Versions A and B
should be answerable, not so?

> Could you rewrite all the GNU tools yourself? Sure you could. If that is how
> you want to waste your life, you are free to do so. But most people are
> happy to use the already provided tools.

Sarcasm aside, the question is a hypothetical one: I'm asking which tools
would need to be rewritten, and on that basis it may be interesting to
assess how much work it would be to rewrite them.

It's a huge step from my asking a question out of intellectual curiosity
to you assuming that I am planning to actually sit down and start writing.

On the other hand, if Linus Torvalds had followed the same logic he would
have said that it's way too much work to waste one's life engineering a
replacement kernel for Unix-like systems....

> Why in the world are you asking this?

Because I'm a scientist, because I'm curious, and so I want to know, and
because this is comp.os.linux.MISC, and the question fits very well in a
miscellany of questions about Linux.

I believe it's likely that, say, scientist working on relativistic
field theory would be able to understand that there are questions that
are interesting in themselves.

mark south: world citizen, net denizen
echo znexfbhgu2000@lnubb.pb.hx|tr a-z n-za-m