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C.1 Requirements for Building GDB

Building GDB requires various tools and packages to be available. Other packages will be used only if they are found.

Tools/Packages Necessary for Building GDB

ISO C90 compiler

GDB is written in ISO C90. It should be buildable with any working C90 compiler, e.g. GCC.

Tools/Packages Optional for Building GDB


GDB can use the Expat XML parsing library. This library may be included with your operating system distribution; if it is not, you can get the latest version from The configure script will search for this library in several standard locations; if it is installed in an unusual path, you can use the --with-libexpat-prefix option to specify its location.

Expat is used for:


GDB will use the ‘zlib’ library, if available, to read compressed debug sections. Some linkers, such as GNU gold, are capable of producing binaries with compressed debug sections. If GDB is compiled with ‘zlib’, it will be able to read the debug information in such binaries.

The ‘zlib’ library is likely included with your operating system distribution; if it is not, you can get the latest version from


GDB’s features related to character sets (see Character Sets) require a functioning iconv implementation. If you are on a GNU system, then this is provided by the GNU C Library. Some other systems also provide a working iconv.

If GDB is using the iconv program which is installed in a non-standard place, you will need to tell GDB where to find it. This is done with --with-iconv-bin which specifies the directory that contains the iconv program.

On systems without iconv, you can install GNU Libiconv. If you have previously installed Libiconv, you can use the --with-libiconv-prefix option to configure.

GDB’s top-level configure and Makefile will arrange to build Libiconv if a directory named libiconv appears in the top-most source directory. If Libiconv is built this way, and if the operating system does not provide a suitable iconv implementation, then the just-built library will automatically be used by GDB. One easy way to set this up is to download GNU Libiconv, unpack it, and then rename the directory holding the Libiconv source code to ‘libiconv’.

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