The negative responses to the question about Eclipse-based tools surprised me. It had been at least four years since I tried an Eclipse-based development tool, and I assumed that with so many embedded companies adopting the Eclipse IDE that the environment would have cleaned up nicely.

This got me wondering if GNU-based tools, especially compilers targeting embedded processors, fare better within the engineering community or not. Similar to using the Eclipse IDE, it has been far too many years since I used a GCC compiler to know how it has or has not evolved. Unlike an IDE, a compiler does not need to support a peppy graphical user interface – it just needs to generate strong code that works on the desired target. The competition to GCC compilers are proprietary tools that claim to perform significantly better at generating target code.

Are the GNU-based development tools good enough for embedded designs – especially those designs that do not provide a heavy user interface? The software for most embedded designs must operate within constrained memory sizes and need to operate efficiently or it will risk driving the cost of the embedded system higher than it needs to be.

Are you using GNU-based development tools – even when there is a proprietary compiler available for your target? What types of projects are GNU-based tools sufficient for and where is the line when the proprietary tools become a necessity (or not)?

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