Section 21.8. Other Languages

Many other popular (and not-so-popular) languages are available for Linux. For the most part, however, these work identically on Linux as on other Unix systems, so there's not much in the way of news there. There are also so many of them that we can't cover them in much detail here. We do want to let you know what's out there, however, and explain some of the differences between the various languages and compilers.

A recent development in the area of scripting languages, the Ruby language was developed in Japan and has gained an impressive following there. It is an object-oriented scripting language that goes (if possible) even further than Python in its use of objects.

Tcl (Tool Command Language) is a language that was meant as a glue for connecting programs together, but it has become most famous for its included, easy-to-use windowing toolkit, Tk.

LISP is an interpreted language used in many applications, ranging from artificial intelligence to statistics. It is used primarily in computer science because it defines a clean, logical interface for working with algorithms. (It also uses a lot of parentheses, something of which computer scientists are always fond.) It is a functional programming language and is very generalized. Many operations are defined in terms of recursion instead of linear loops. Expressions are hierarchical, and data is represented by lists of items.

Several LISP interpreters are available for Linux. Emacs LISP is a fairly complete implementation in itself. It has many features that allow it to interact directly with Emacsinput and output through Emacs buffers, for examplebut it may be used for non-Emacs-related applications as well.

Also available is CLISP , a Common LISP implementation by Bruno Haible of Karlsruhe University and Michael Stoll of Munich University. It includes an interpreter, a compiler, and a subset of CLOS (Common LISP Object System, an object-oriented extension to LISP). CLX, a Common LISP interface to the X Window System, is also available; it runs under CLISP. CLX allows you to write X-based applications in LISP. Austin Kyoto Common LISP, another LISP implementation, is available and compatible with CLX as well.

SWI-Prolog, a complete Prolog implementation by Jan Wielemaker of the University of Amsterdam, is also available. Prolog is a logic-based language, allowing you to make logical assertions, define heuristics for validating those assertions, and make decisions based on them. It is a useful language for AI applications.

Also available are several Scheme interpreters, including MIT Scheme, a complete Scheme interpreter conforming to the R4 standard. Scheme is a dialect of LISP that offers a cleaner, more general programming model. It is a good LISP dialect for computer science applications and for studying algorithms.

At least two implementations of Ada are availableAdaEd, an Ada interpreter, and GNAT, the GNU Ada Translator. GNAT is actually a full-fledged optimizing Ada compiler. It is to Ada what gcc is to C and C++.

In the same vein, two other popular language translators exist for Linux--p2c, a Pascal -to-C translator, and f2c, a FORTRAN -to-C translator. If you're concerned that these translators won't function as well as bona fide compilers, don't be. Both p2c and f2c have proven to be robust and useful for heavy Pascal and FORTRAN use. There is also at least one Object Pascal compiler available for Linux that can compile some programs written with the Delphi product. And finally, there is Kylix, a version of the commercial Delphi environment for Linux.

f2c is Fortran 77-compliant, and a number of tools are available for it as well. ftnchek is a FORTRAN checker, similar to lint. Both the LAPACK numerical methods library and the mpfun multiprecision FORTRAN library have been ported to Linux using f2c. toolpack is a collection of FORTRAN tools that includes such items as a source-code pretty printer, a precision converter, and a portability checker.

The Mono project is developing a C# compiler plus runtime environment as part of the GNOME desktop, enabling .NET-style programming on Linux.

Among the miscellaneous other languages available for Linux are interpreters for APL, Rexx, Forth, ML, and Eiffel, as well as a Simula-to-C translator. The GNU versions of the compiler tools lex and yacc (renamed to flex and bison, respectively), which are used for many software packages, have also been ported to Linux. lex and yacc are invaluable for creating any kind of parser or translator, most commonly used when writing compilers.

Part I: Enjoying and Being Productive on Linux
Part II: System Administration