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The GCJ FAQ
===========

      The latest version of this document is always available at
      http://gcc.gnu.org/java/faq.html.

        General Questions

            What license is used for libgcj?
            How can I report a bug in libgcj?
            How can I contribute to libgcj
            Is libgcj part of GCC?
            Will gcj and libgcj work on my machine?
            How can I debug my Java program?
            Can I interface byte-compiled and native java code?


        Java Feature Support

            What Java API's are supported? How complete is
              the support?
            Does GCJ support using straight C native methods
              ala JNI?
            Why does GCJ use CNI?
            What is the state of AWT support?
            How about support for Swing ?
            What support is there for RMI ?
            Can I use any code from other OpenSource projects
              to supplement libgcj's current features ?
            What features of the Java language are/arn't supported


        Build Issues

            I need something more recent than the last release; how
                  should I build it?
            Linker bug on Solaris
            Can I configure/build in the source tree?
            My libgcj build fails with "invalid use of undefined type
                  struct sigcontext_struct"


        Gcj Compile/Link Questions

            Why do I get undefined reference to `main' errors?
            Can GCJ only handle source code?
            "gcj -C" Doesn't seem to work like javac/jikes. Whats going on?
            Where does GCJ look for files?
            How does gcj resolve wether to compile .class or .java files?
            I'm getting link errors!
            I'm getting 'undefined symbol: __dso_handle'


        Runtime Questions

            My program is dumping core! What's going on?
            When I run the debugger I get a SEGV in the GC! What's going on?
            I have just compiled and benchmarked my Java application
            and it seems to be running slower than than XXX JIT JVM. Is there
            anything I can do to make it go faster?
            Can I profile Garbage Collection?
            How do I increase the runtime's initial and maximum heap sizes?
            How can I profile my application?
            My program seems to hang and doesn't produce any output


        Programming Issues

            Are there any examples of how to use CNI?
            Is it possible to invoke GCJ compiled Java code from a
            C++ application?

General Questions
=================

      1.1 What license is used for libgcj?

          libgcj is distributed under the GPL, with the 'libgcc exception'.
          This means that linking with libgcj does not by itself cause
          your program to fall under the GPL.  See LIBGCJ_LICENSE in
          the source tree for more details.

      1.2 How can I report a bug in libgcj?

          libgcj has a corresponding Gnats bug database which you can
          browse. You can also submit new bug reports from the Gnats
          page.

      1.3 How can I contribute to libgcj?

          You can send simple bug fixes in as patches. Please follow
          the GCC guidelines for submitting patches. For more complex
          changes, you must sign copyright over to the Free Software
          Foundation. See the contribution page for details.

      1.4 Is libgcj part of GCC?

          Yes, libgcj is now part of GCC. It can be downloaded,
          configured and built as one single tree.

      1.5 Will gcj and libgcj work on my machine?

          Gcj and libgcj are known to work more or less with IA-32 and
          Sparc Solaris, Tru64 Unix, as well as IA-32, IA-64, Alpha,
          and PowerPC Linux. They might work on other
          systems. Generally speaking, porting to a new system should
          not be hard. This would be a good way to volunteer.

      1.6 How can I debug my Java program?

          gdb 5.0 includes support for debugging gcj-compiled Java
          programs. For more information please read Java Debugging
          with gdb.

      1.7 Can I interface byte-compiled and native java code

          libgcj has a bytecode interpreter that allows you to mix
          .class files with compiled code. It works pretty
          transparently: if a compiled version of a class is not found
          in the application binary or linked shared libraries, the
          class loader will search for a bytecode version in your
          classpath, much like a VM would. Be sure to build libgcj
          with the --enable-interpreter option to enable this
          functionality.

          The program "gij" provides a front end to the interpreter
          that behaves much like a traditional virtual machine. You
          can even use "gij" to run a shared library which is compiled
          from java code and contains a main method:

          $ gcj -shared -o lib-HelloWorld.so HelloWorld.java
          $ gij HelloWorld

          This works because gij uses Class.forName, which knows how
          to load shared objects.

Java Feature Support
====================

      2.1 What Java API's are supported? How complete is
        the support?

          Matt Welsh writes:

            Just look in the 'libjava' directory of libgcj and see
            what classes are there. Most GUI stuff isn't there yet,
            that's true, but many of the other classes are easy to add
            if they don't yet exist.

            I think it's important to stress that there is a big
            difference between Java and the many libraries which Java
            supports. Unfortunately, Sun's promise of "write once, run
            everywhere" assumes much more than a JVM: you also need
            the full set of JDK libraries. Considering that new Java
            APIs come out every week, it's going to be impossible to
            track everything.

            To make things worse, you can't simply run Sun's JDK
            classes on any old JVM -- they assume that a bunch of
            native methods are also defined. Since this native method
            requirement isn't defined by the JDK specs, you're
            effectively constrained to using Sun's JVMs if you want to
            use Sun's JDK libraries. Oh yes -- you could also
            reimplement all of those native methods yourself, and make
            sure they behave exactly as Sun's do. Note that they're
            undocumented!

      2.2 Does GCJ support using straight C native methods
         ala JNI?

          Yes. libgcj now has experimental support for JNI, in
          addition to its native Compiled Native Interface (CNI). gcjh
          will generate JNI stubs and headers using the "-jni"
          option. However, we do prefer CNI: it is more efficient,
          easier to write, and (at least potentially) easier to debug.

      2.3 Why does GCJ use CNI?

          Per Bothner explains:

            We use CNI because we think it is a better solution,
            especially for a Java implementation that is based on the
            idea that Java is just another programming language that
            can be implemented using standard compilation
            techniques. Given that, and the idea that languages
            implemented using Gcc should be compatible where it makes
            sense, it follows that the Java calling convention should
            be as similar as practical to that used for other
            languages, especially C++, since we can think of Java as a
            subset of C++. CNI is just a set of helper functions and
            conventions built on the idea that C++ and Java have the
            *same* calling convention and object layout; they are
            binary compatible. (This is a simplification, but close
            enough.)

      2.4 What is the state of AWT support?

          Work is in progress to implement AWT and Java2D. We intend
          to support both GTK and xlib peers written using CNI. Some
          components are already working atop the xlib peers.

      2.5 How about support for Swing?

          Once AWT support is working then Swing support can be
          considered. There is at least one free-software partial
          implementations of Swing that may be usable.

      2.6 What support is there for RMI?

         RMI code exists on the CVS trunk (aka gcc 3.1), but it has
         not been heavily tested.  This code was donated by
         Transvirtual Technologies.

      2.7 Can I use any code from other OpenSource
          projects to supplement libgcj's current features?

           Certainly. However, in many cases, if you wanted to
           contribute the code back into the official libgcj
           distribution, we would require that the original author(s)
           assign copyright to the Free Software Foundation.  As of
           March 6, 2000, libgcj has been relicenced, and copyright
           has been assigned to the FSF. This allows us to share and
           merge much of the libgcj codebase with the Classpath
           project.  Our eventual goal is for Classpath to be an
           upstream source provider for libgcj, however it will be
           some time before this becomes reality: libgcj and Classpath
           have different implementations of many core java
           classes. In order to merge them, we need to select the best
           (most efficient, cleanest) implementation of each
           method/class/package, resolve any conflicts created by the
           merge, and test the final result.  Needless to say, this is
           a lot of work. If you can help out, please let us know!

      2.8 What features of the Java language are/aren't supported.

          GCJ supports all Java language constructs as per the Java
          language Specification.  Recent GCJ snapshots have added
          support for most JDK1.1 (and beyond) language features,
          including inner classes.

Build Issues
============

      3.1 I need something more recent than the last release.
          How should I build it?

          Please read here: http://gcc.gnu.org/java/build-snapshot.html

      3.2 Linker bug on Solaris

          There is a known problem with the native Solaris linker when
          using gcc/gcj. A good indication you've run into this
          problem is if you get an error that looks like the following
          when building libgcj:

ld: warning: option -o appears more than once, first setting taken
ld: fatal: file libfoo.so: cannot open file: No such file or directory
ld: fatal: File processing errors. No output written to .libs/libfoo.so
collect2: ld returned 1 exit status

          A known workaround for this and other reported link problems
          on the various releases of Solaris is to build gcc/gcj with
          the latest GNU binutils instead of the native Solaris
          ld. The most straightforward way to do this is to build and
          install binutils, and then reference it in the configure for
          gcc via --with-ld=/path_to_binutils_install/bin/ld
          (--with-as may also be similarly specified but is not
          believed to be required).

          Please note, gcc/gcj must be built using GNU ld prior to
          doing a clean build of libgcj!

      3.3 Can I configure/build in the source tree?

          No.  You cannot configure/build in the source tree.  If you
          try, you'll see something like:

              $ ./configure [...]
              Configuring for a i686-pc-linux-gnu host.
              *** Cannot currently configure in source tree.

          Instead, you must build in another directory.  E.g.:

              $ mkdir build
              $ cd build
              $ ../configure [...]

      3.4 My libgcj build fails with "invalid use of undefined type
          struct sigcontext_struct"

          If you're using Linux, this probably means you need to
          upgrade to a newwer, glibc (libc6) based Linux
          distribution. libgcj does not support the older linux libc5.
          It might be possible to get a working libgcj by changing
          occurances of "sigcontext_struct" to "sigcontext", however
          this has not been tested.  Even if it works, it is likely
          that there are other issues with older libc versions that
          would prevent libgcj from working correctly (threads bugs,
          for example).

Gcj Compile/Link Questions
==========================

      4.1 Why do I get undefined reference to `main' errors?

          When using gcj to link a Java program, you must use the --main=
          option to indicate the class that has the desired main method.
          This is because every Java class can have a main method, thus
          you have to tell gcj which one to use.

      4.2 Can GCJ only handle source code?

          GCJ will compile both source (.java) and bytecode (.class)
          files. However, in many cases the native code produced by
          compiling from source is better optimized than that compiled
          from .class files.

          Per Bothner explains:

            The reason is that when you compile to bytecode you lose a
            lot of information about program structure etc. That
            information helps in generating better code. We can in
            theory recover the information we need by analysing the
            structure of the bytecodes, but it is sometimes difficult
            - or sometimes it just that no-one has gotten around to
            it.  Specific examples include loop structure (gcc
            generates better code with explicit loops rather than with
            the equivalent spaghetti code), array initializers, and
            the JDK 1.1 `CLASS.class' syntax, all of which are
            represented using more low-level constructs in bytecode.

      4.3 "gcj -C" Doesn't seem to work like javac/jikes.  Whats going on?

          The behavior of "gcj -C" is not at all like javac or jikes,
          which will compile (not just scan) all .java's which are out
          of date with regard to their .class's.

      4.4 Where does GCJ look for files?

          GCJ looks for classes to compile based on the CLASSPATH
          environment variable. libgcj.jar and other files are found
          relative to the path of the compiler itself, so it is safe
          to move the entire compiler tree to a different path, and
          there is no need to include libgcj.jar in your CLASSPATH.

      4.5 How does gcj resolve whether to compile .class or .java files?

          GCJ compiles only the files presented to it on the command
          line. However, it also needs to scan other files in order to
          determine the layout of other classes and check for errors
          in your code.  For these dependencies, GCJ will favour
          .class files if they are available because it is faster to
          parse a class file than source code.

      4.6 I'm getting link errors

          If you get errors at link time that refer to 'undefined
          reference to `java::lang::Object type_info function', verify
          that you have compiled any CNI C++ files with the -fno-rtti
          option. This is only required for versions of GCJ earlier
          than 3.0.

      4.7 I'm getting 'undefined symbol: __dso_handle'

          Some versions of the GNU linker have broken support for the
          '.hidden' directive, which results in problems with shared
          libraries built with recent versions of gcc.

          There are three solutions:

            - downgrade to binutils that don't support .hidden at all,
            - upgrade to a recent binutils, or
            - undef the HAVE_GAS_HIDDEN definition in gcc's auto-host.h
              (and rebuild gcc).

Runtime Questions
=================

      5.1 My program is dumping core! What's going on?

          It could be any number of things. One common mistake is
          having your CLASSPATH environment variable pointing at a
          third party's java.lang and friends. Either unset CLASSPATH,
          or make sure it does not refer to core libraries other than
          those found in libgcj.jar.Note that newwer versions of GCJ
          will reject the core class library if it wasn't generated by
          GCJ itself.

      5.2 When I run the debugger I get a SEGV in the GC! What's going on?

          This is "normal"; the Garbage Collector (GC) uses it to
          determine stack boundaries. It is ordinarily caught and
          handled by the GC -- you can see this in the debugger by
          using cont to continue to the "real" segv.

      5.3 I have just compiled and benchmarked my Java application
          and it seems to be running slower than than XXX JIT JVM. Is there
          anything I can do to make it go faster?

        A few things:

          - If your programs allocate many small, short lived objects,
            the heap could be filling and triggering GC too
            regularly. Try increasing the initial and maximum heap sizes
            as per 5.5 How do I increase the runtime's initial and
            maximum heap size?
          - RE - array accesses. We have sub-optimal runtime checking
            code, and the compiler is still not so smart about
            automatically removing array checks. If your code is ready,
            and it doesn't rely on them, try compiling with
            --no-bounds-check.
          - Try static linking.  On many platforms, dynamic (PIC)
            function calls are more expensive than static ones. In
            particular, the interaction with boehm-gc seems to incur
            extra overhead when shared libraries are used.
          - If your Java application doesn't need threads, try
            building libgcj using --enable-threads=none. Portions of the
            libgcj runtime are still more efficient when
            single-threaded.

       5.4 Can I profile Garbage Collection?

          It is possible to turn on verbose GC output by supressing
          the -DSILENT flag during build. One way to do this is to
          comment out the line with #define SILENT 1 from
          boehm-gc/configure before configuring libgcj.  The GC will
          print collection statistics to stdout. (Rebuilding boehm-gc
          alone without this flag doesn't seem to work.)

      5.5 How do I increase the runtime's initial and maximum heap sizes?

          Some programs that allocate many small, short-lived objects
          can cause the default-sized heap to fill quickly and GC
          often. With the 2.95.1 release there is no means to adjust
          the heap at runtime. Recent snapshots provide the -ms and
          -mx arguments to gij to specify the initial and maximum heap
          sizes, respectively.

      5.6 How can I profile my application?

          Currently, only single threaded Java code may be used by the
          profiler (gprof). POSIX threads seem to be incompatible with
          the gmon stuff.  A couple of other tools that have been
          mentioned on the GCJ mailing list are sprof and cprof.  The
          former is part of GNU libc.

      5.7 My program seems to hang and doesn't produce any output

          Some versions had a bug in the iconv support. You can work
          around it by setting LANG=en_US.UTF-8 at runtime, or give
          the following option during compile time
          -Dfile.encoding=UTF-8.  This problem should no longer occur
          as of November 1, 2000.

Programming Issues
==================

      6.1 Are there any examples of how to use CNI?

          Glenn Chambers has created a couple of trivial examples for
          version 2.95 and version 3.0.  As a comparison, here is the
          same example as a JNI application using Kaffe.  The same
          code will work with GCJ, as shown here.

          Note that for version 2.95, you must compile the C++ files
          used for CNI with the -fno-rtti option.  This constraint
          does not apply in version 3.0 and later.

          The primary source of documentation for CNI is at
          http://gcc.gnu.org/java/papers/cni/t1.html

      6.2 Is it possible to invoke GCJ compiled Java code from a
          C++ application?

          Yes, GCJ 3.1 supports a CNI-based invocation interface as
          well as the traditional JNI invocation API.  See the GCJ
          Manual for more details on how to use the CNI interface.

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Last modified 2003-04-30