Learning C - free compiler for "PC" C

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Hi,

In reading recent threads the impression I get is that the best way to learn C is to learn C as in the C that when compiled will run on a PC (versus learning C that runs on an embedded processor).

I have seen references in the past here to free versions of the Borland Turbo C compiler for the PC. I Googled and found an address (for the Borland compiler) but it ends up (after a very long wait) giving me the "Page not found" message.

Is there another free compiler out there? Will I need an old DOS PC to use this compiler (versus running it on an XP machine)? I have the K&R book along with several others meant to teach PC style C programming (several years old I might add - been meaning to learn but now I >>really<< see the need...what can I say, I am a slow learner :wink: ). I also have been saving the links posted here to C tutorials etc.

Anyway, I have been searching on and off all morning and the only thing I have accomplished is to become frustrated. If it ends up I need to purchase something then I will do that...I just don't know what to get.

I know the free PC compilers have been covered here before, I just don't know what terms to use to narrow the hits to a manageable level.

Thanks in advance :!:
Steve

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What you want to Google for is "museum" and/or "antique software". The pages still seem to be alive at
http://bdn.borland.com/museum/

IIRC some of the other classic C compilers may be available also, but I can't remember which one(s). Watcom? Microsoft?

[edit] See also
http://cc.uoregon.edu/cnews/spri...
and
http://www.freeprogrammingresour...

Lee

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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theusch wrote:
What you want to Google for is "museum" and/or "antique software". The pages still seem to be alive at
http://bdn.borland.com/museum/

I know the OP asked about C but.....
IIRC they also have the early versions of Turbo Pascal too.

Quote:

IIRC some of the other classic C compilers may be available also, but I can't remember which one(s). Watcom? Microsoft?

[edit] See also
http://cc.uoregon.edu/cnews/spri...
and
http://www.freeprogrammingresour...

Lee

There are of course various flavors for gcc avaiable for dos/windows too, specifically djgpp (dos) and mingw (windows) spring to mind.

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Lee,

What you probably want is some version of GCC. It's a free compiler ported to lots of architectures (like the AVR), so if you eventually want to program AVR in C, you might as well start w/GCC on your desktop. If you run linux, it typically comes installed with the OS. If you run windows, you can use CYGWIN, which will provide you with a UNIX-like environment (shell, compiler, etc.). Another alternative is DJGPP which is just a port of the compiler and utilities.

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:lol: Earlier today I used "Borland Turbo C" in a Google search. I got something like www.community.borland.com/museum as the first hit and that was the site that wouldn't come up. The next few hits just referenced the www.community site (or so I thought, maybe I misread them).

I just Googled the exact same term and the site Lee posted was the first hit on the list...it came right up and I went straight to the Turbo C page in like 3 seconds...oh well, whats a person gonna do :roll:

Thank you very much Lee :!: :!: I haven't checked out the other links yet, going to do that next.

Regards,
Steve

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beetlbumjl wrote:
Lee,

What you probably want is ...

Nope. I've got my own [licensed] copies of most of the products mentioned from back in a past life when men were men, PCs had a few hundred kB of RAM, and DOS >2.x was cool. :) I was just responding to Steve's request of where to find the Borland museum pieces.

Lee

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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Ok, a couple of posts above mentioned GCC. However, it is not exactly easy in the command-line form.

Here's a link to Dev-C++, a full-featured IDE, with the GCC compiler, for Windows:
http://www.bloodshed.net/devcpp.html

I've never tried it, but I've heard many good things about it.

Also note that the DJGPP port is technically only for DOS, not for Windows. So I would go with the above and skip DJGPP.

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This entry is from the "Sticky" in top

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~lcc-...

I once used it , and it was ok.

Allthough a fullblown GCC might be better.

But it was easy to install & use , and the OP putting this in the sticky said the tutorial/manual was excellent.

/Bingo

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@ Bingo600

I had gone to that site for the tutorial, quite honestly I forgot about there being a compiler there...thanks.

Regards,
Steve

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In the last couple of issues of The Embedded Muse, Jack Ganssle has mentioned some free compilers for Windows environments. In addition to the Borland offering, he mentioned these as well:

Quote:
Microsoft are providing their current 32 bit C/C++ compiler for free.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/visual...

Quote:
The Watcom x86 compiler has been
released under a GPL type license with open source. They have had a
reputation as being one of the more efficient compilers, the user interface
is fairly good, and a debugger, including remote capability, is
included. The major advantage over Borland is that the source code is
available. See http://www.openwatcom.com

Dave

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SteveN wrote:

In reading recent threads the impression I get is that the best way to learn C is to learn C as in the C that when compiled will run on a PC (versus learning C that runs on an embedded processor).

Well IMHO, this is still debatable. I personally can’t see the use of learning C for the sake of C on a PC when its primary use is as a starting point for doing something else. Sure, you can learn French from audiotapes while commuting to work, but if you are going to really get it you ought to go to Paris and immerse yourself.

Good Luck,
Joe

Last Edited: Tue. Dec 14, 2004 - 12:45 AM
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You could go to the local university, get microsoft visual c++ student edition for about $99, and just write k&r c "console apps" and include stdio.h, and they run just fine in a text window. If you include windows.h, you can call anything in the win32 api, like Sleep(4); or CreateFile, ReadFile WriteFile to do serial ports, etc. If you get a big inspiration, you can finally use the wizard and write a c++ and mfc app.

Imagecraft compiler user

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I started with DJGPP. I'm pretty sure it will run in a DOS box under WInXP (I can't test it as I only have Win2k).

I personally found reference guides by Schildt as a great help in learning the basics of C on the PC.

And personally I find I learn more quickly when I dissect someone else's program rather than built up hunderds of trivial examples (they are good to go back to, just not to spend weeks over).

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I agree with smokey. If your gonna learn, do it right (like me!). No use learning on the computer when you'll never learn the critical things, like bit manipulation, etc.

If you want to learn on a computer just to get the language right, why not just use a micro? It's not like the $3 you spend on a cheap AVR will send you broke. Best bet, purchase a very cheap/basic AVR (so it dosn't matter if you blow it up or exaust the flash write cycles) and do your tests on it (enter Dr Frankenstein). That way you'll learn all the important stuff at once.

I'm learning with AVRs (as opposed to computers) via Smokey's excellent book, but i'm also learning the C basics by reading computer C books (just to get the syntax right).

Just my $200K

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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Yeah but if you learn the basics of C on a PC you'll not have to wait for the chip to burn each time you change your code and debugging is a helluva lot easier.

Considering the basics are identical (for loops, while loops, if-then-else stmts, variable declaration, etc) wouldn't it be better to easily step through your first C programs and see what each step does. And to have this process made easier by the fact you don't need expensive hardware hook to the uC.

I also think learning in a fully blown IDE with all the bells and whistles can save a lot of time.

For the learner I think one should take the distractions away of hooking up the AVR, attaching the ICE, connecting the RS-232 cable if using it, etc and just get down to the job of learning C.

I mean, the gets some data out of the chip (apart from LEDs) is going to take an LCD, serial port or similar. Now what happens when the C learner is trying to work out a while loop and has a problem with his LCD code? I mean the exercise has suddenly gone from what does a "while" do when, to debugging complex LCD code.

Why not just save the hassle, make a simple PC console app and learn C not "why the LCD doesn't work" or to "double check the serial cable hasn't fallen out" etc..

EDIT: oh yeah bit manipulation is there on in the PC compilers too, and I used it long before I started coding for micros. I don't know what you're talking about?

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Hi,

Actually, I did have an "ulterior" motive for choosing to learn the PC type of C. I am getting more and more into designing and building test fixtures for the company I work for.

The "brains" behind our equipment (basically small CNC machines to cut prescriptions into plastic lenses for eyeglasses and another CNC machine to cut the lens to shape to fit in the eyeglass frames) is a PC in a PC104 form. I see the need now for several test fixtures that would best be solved by using PC code. So, I feel I would be killing two birds with one stone in learning C for the PC. I didn't mention this in the OP because I didn't want to "clutter" it up more than necessary.

Regards,
Steve

P.S. The company owner has announced plans to sell the company. I am now feeling the urgent need to update my skills...another motive for learning PC C programming.

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abcminiuser wrote:

I'm learning with AVRs (as opposed to computers) via Smokey's excellent book, but i'm also learning the C basics by reading computer C books (just to get the syntax right).

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume by ‘Smokey’ you mean ‘Smiley’, so thanks.

Dingo_aus wrote:
Yeah but if you learn the basics of C on a PC you'll not have to wait for the chip to burn each time you change your code and debugging is a helluva lot easier.

I used to burn code into an EPROM, then plug it in a board and test it – many minute process. With the Butterfly and its Bootloader, I just fire it down and test it – few second process. Debugging is easier on a PC for such things as seeing if a loop loops, but for testing the timing on an interrupt nothing beats seeing an LED blink.

Dingo_aus wrote:

Considering the basics are identical (for loops, while loops, if-then-else stmts, variable declaration, etc) wouldn't it be better to easily step through your first C programs and see what each step does. And to have this process made easier by the fact you don't need expensive hardware hook to the uC.

The Butterfly is $19.99 from DigiKey, and AVRStudio is free from ATMEL, so you can step though code on AVRStudio or you can just fire it to the Butterfly and watch stuff happen. $19.99 is mind boggling cheap for hardware that you can actually use to learn C and microcontroller basics on.

Dingo_aus wrote:

I also think learning in a fully blown IDE with all the bells and whistles can save a lot of time.

Well AVRStudio does ‘blow’ a little, but it has a lot and allows some useful simulation.

Dingo_aus wrote:

For the learner I think one should take the distractions away of hooking up the AVR, attaching the ICE, connecting the RS-232 cable if using it, etc and just get down to the job of learning C.

This is a good criticism. Even hooking up the Butterfly and configuring WinAVR, AVRStudio, and a terminal program is a pain in the butt. But some of us are willing to wade through all this because it is such a darn cheap way to get into C programming for microcontrollers. I’ve been using Motorola parts for years but switched to the AVR for my book almost exclusively because the Butterfly is such a good and cheap training tool (IMHO). After this selection, I came to realize that the AVR does, in fact, beat the socks off the Motorola stuff, also IMHO.

Dingo_aus wrote:

I mean, the gets some data out of the chip (apart from LEDs) is going to take an LCD, serial port or similar. Now what happens when the C learner is trying to work out a while loop and has a problem with his LCD code? I mean the exercise has suddenly gone from what does a "while" do when, to debugging complex LCD code.

The LCD is ‘advanced’ again IMHO, so I don’t use it in the book. I use a PC terminal program exclusively to get text output.

Dingo_aus wrote:

Why not just save the hassle, make a simple PC console app and learn C not "why the LCD doesn't work" or to "double check the serial cable hasn't fallen out" etc..

Seems like about a third of C programming is debugging. Figuring out early to make sure the hardware is plugged in and turned on is a good learning experience.

Dingo_aus wrote:

EDIT: oh yeah bit manipulation is there on in the PC compilers too, and I used it long before I started coding for micros. I don't know what you're talking about?

Actually, bit manipulation on the PC is easier, I think, because you have enough horsepower to use standard C bitwise operator and bit structures instead of the non intuitive things like myInt &= (6 << 12); needed for low end microcontrollers. But once the student has learned to use bitwise operators and bit structures, they have to unlearn some of it for micros.

While it sounds like I’m digging my heels in here, I actually don’t see too much wrong with your suggestions especially for the early learning stage where the student could get a quick feel for what C does without having to hassle too much.

Can you suggest an easy, free and redistributable C training tool for the PC?

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SteveN wrote:

The "brains" behind our equipment PC in a PC104 form.

I'm thinking the PC104 is an old, expensive, and kludgey way to get any embedded control done in the 21st century, but then I'm just trying to bait someone into firing back a reasoned defense of the poor old feeble thing.

SteveN wrote:

P.S. The company owner has announced plans to sell the company. I am now feeling the urgent need to update my skills...another motive for learning PC C programming.

But, if it can help you keep your job, then learn everything you can about it. Since most programming jobs have taken wing to India and parts beyond, being strong in keeping legacy systems working may soon be the last place an American programmer can get a job. I am an EE and I program. I would not recommend anyone in America get into either field now.

Good Luck,
Joe

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smileymicros wrote:

Actually, bit manipulation on the PC is easier, I think, because you have enough horsepower to use standard C bitwise operator and bit structures instead of the non intuitive things like myInt &= (6 << 12); needed for low end microcontrollers. But once the student has learned to use bitwise operators and bit structures, they have to unlearn some of it for micros.

You are using the term "bitwise operator" here incorrectly.

1. There are several bitwise operators; not just a singular operator.
2. Your example of: myInt &= (6 << 12), is an example of bitwise operartors.
3. Bitwise operators have nothing to do with bit structures.

"Having enough horsepower" is irrelevant to using any of these constructs of the C language.

In addition, there several problems with using bit structures, as the implementation of them are not standardized. Go ask on the comp.lang.c newsgroup for more information. Manipulating bits using bit structures is a good way to shoot yourself in the foot when you are using different compilers and different machines. That's why there are such things as bitwise operators; because they are portable.

Bitwise operators are only non-intuitive to you until you learn what they do and commit it to memory. How hard is it to learn these things?! There's only six of them!:

| bitwise OR
& bitwise AND
^ bitwise XOR
~ bitwise NOT
<< bitwise LEFT SHIFT
>> bitwise RIGHT SHIFT

All it takes is learning the concept of Truth Tables (logic), the concept of masks, and visualizing the operation in binary!

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Hi,

Quote:
I'm thinking the PC104 is an old, expensive, and kludgey way to get any embedded control done in the 21st century

Sorry, I may have used the wrong terminology...but the technology we use is old. The board we use is basically a PC motherboard on a board small enough to plug into an EISA slot motherboard. I think we are up to a 400MHz 486 now. The software that runs on it is DOS based. Apparently it does the job because as of the end of 2003 we had the fastest edger (machine that cuts the lens shape to fit the frame) on the market in that machines price range. Anyway, sorry to go off topic.

I am not arguing that it isn't old, expensive and kludgey. I just wanted to make sure we were both talking about the same thing.

Regards,
Steve

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EW wrote:

You are using the term "bitwise operator" here incorrectly.

I was in a hurry and missed the ‘s’ that should of followed ‘operator’. In my book I reproduce the entire table from K&R, so I know there are multiple bitwise operators.

I had logic back when it was in the Philosophy department, so the operators aren’t what I meant as being non-intuitive to me. The (6<<12) was non-intuitive to me and took a little thinking and using the paper and pencil computer to get. I get it. But I never saw it used on a PC, where by Horsepower I meant speed and memory.

EW wrote:

3. Bitwise operators have nothing to do with bit structures.

I also know this and was trying to breeze over bits in general, but bit structures don’t seem to work on microcontrollers like they do on the typical C program for PCs. Something about promoting each bit to an int, or some such messing with. I don’t use bit structures on microcontrollers.

EW wrote:

"Having enough horsepower" is irrelevant to using any of these constructs of the C language.

I disagree if we can include memory in the definition of horsepower.

EW wrote:

All it takes is learning the concept of Truth Tables (logic), the concept of masks, and visualizing the operation in binary!

I absolutely agree with this.

Joe

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Quote:
when men were men, PCs had a few hundred kB of RAM, and DOS >2.x was cool
I think I still have a copy of.....EAGLE DOS v1 or 2...NO not microsoft...that would make me a real man :D As far as C is concerned, I have been really, really trying to get used to it for tha past 15 years or so, but when it comes to microcontrollers I just quickly revert to assembler. Another very slow learner here Down Under..

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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I would further recommend LCCWin32 if for no other reason than it's core foundation and syntax are based on ANSI C standards, which is a virtually universal standard for computer programming of any kind. If you can program in ANSI C, just about any programmer worth his salt will be able to talk to you in and understandable language.

-Curiosity may have killed the cat
-But that's why they have nine lives

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smileymicros wrote:

Dingo_aus wrote:
Yeah but if you learn the basics of C on a PC you'll not have to wait for the chip to burn each time you change your code and debugging is a helluva lot easier.

I used to burn code into an EPROM, then plug it in a board and test it – many minute process. With the Butterfly and its Bootloader, I just fire it down and test it – few second process. Debugging is easier on a PC for such things as seeing if a loop loops, but for testing the timing on an interrupt nothing beats seeing an LED blink.


Yes but on a PC the delay is almost non-existent. The result happens straight away (at least on anything better than a 386). Having a small few second delay waiting for the micro to "burn" can be a real pain when you're doing it a few hundereds of times in a session

smileymicros wrote:

Dingo_aus wrote:

Considering the basics are identical (for loops, while loops, if-then-else stmts, variable declaration, etc) wouldn't it be better to easily step through your first C programs and see what each step does. And to have this process made easier by the fact you don't need expensive hardware hook to the uC.

The Butterfly is $19.99 from DigiKey, and AVRStudio is free from ATMEL, so you can step though code on AVRStudio or you can just fire it to the Butterfly and watch stuff happen. $19.99 is mind boggling cheap for hardware that you can actually use to learn C and microcontroller basics on.


I think this should be step 2. Step 1 is actually knowing a little about C. Step 2 is getting the C code into the AVR and blinking LEDs etc. And in some parts of the World (i.e. the serveral billion people who live outside the USA, waiting for a Butterfly to arrive in the post is a week or two delay. Why not learn C today, not next week?

The idea is to gain a solid understanding of C, not to achieve the "wow" factor of doing cool stuff. I think people will want the "wow" factor before learning C (if they didn't already know it) so they will use whatever is easiest (BASCOM, assembler etc)

smileymicros wrote:

Dingo_aus wrote:

I also think learning in a fully blown IDE with all the bells and whistles can save a lot of time.

Well AVRStudio does ‘blow’ a little, but it has a lot and allows some useful simulation.


I don't think AVRStudio blows at all.I like it. It is close to the Microsoft's Visual Studio product and thus benefits from the thought that went into that IDE.The problem is that It is not an IDE for AVR-GCC. Free IDEs for avr-gcc tend not to have all the extra features a PC C/C++ IDE has. Like having just one program to write the code and to debug it in. As well as easy menus to access help files, code highlighting, easy jumps to variable declaration etc etc

smileymicros wrote:

Dingo_aus wrote:

For the learner I think one should take the distractions away of hooking up the AVR, attaching the ICE, connecting the RS-232 cable if using it, etc and just get down to the job of learning C.

This is a good criticism. Even hooking up the Butterfly and configuring WinAVR, AVRStudio, and a terminal program is a pain in the butt. But some of us are willing to wade through all this because it is such a darn cheap way to get into C programming for microcontrollers. I’ve been using Motorola parts for years but switched to the AVR for my book almost exclusively because the Butterfly is such a good and cheap training tool (IMHO). After this selection, I came to realize that the AVR does, in fact, beat the socks off the Motorola stuff, also IMHO.


You say "willing to wade through it", what if the C student gets stuck and can't get past the fact his code never sends the correct text back to the PC because of something other than his C code? Debugging when learning (ie dont' know what you are doing) should be made as simple as possible. If you learn C then learn AVRs, each step has been smaller to take but the result is the same. It is like having smaller more frequent milestones in a project.
smileymicros wrote:

Dingo_aus wrote:

I mean, the gets some data out of the chip (apart from LEDs) is going to take an LCD, serial port or similar. Now what happens when the C learner is trying to work out a while loop and has a problem with his LCD code? I mean the exercise has suddenly gone from what does a "while" do when, to debugging complex LCD code.

The LCD is ‘advanced’ again IMHO, so I don’t use it in the book. I use a PC terminal program exclusively to get text output.


Even getting RS-232 is not simple to a newbie. On the PC you type cout<<"Hello"; and it appears on screen. On the AVR you have to consider many many other things to get the same easy functionality.
smileymicros wrote:

Dingo_aus wrote:

Why not just save the hassle, make a simple PC console app and learn C not "why the LCD doesn't work" or to "double check the serial cable hasn't fallen out" etc..

Seems like about a third of C programming is debugging. Figuring out early to make sure the hardware is plugged in and turned on is a good learning experience.


Personally I find debugging is more like two thirds for me :) But the problem here is that you new learner now has to debug the hardware and the software. I think frustration can be reduced by giving the learner only one problem at one time. Yes it is possible to learn to debug both simultaneously but you can waste more time doing both at once than if you'd tackled one at a time.
smileymicros wrote:

Dingo_aus wrote:

EDIT: oh yeah bit manipulation is there on in the PC compilers too, and I used it long before I started coding for micros. I don't know what you're talking about?

Actually, bit manipulation on the PC is easier, I think, because you have enough horsepower to use standard C bitwise operator and bit structures instead of the non intuitive things like myInt &= (6 << 12); needed for low end microcontrollers. But once the student has learned to use bitwise operators and bit structures, they have to unlearn some of it for micros.



I'm actually talking about the << operator here. It is used in graphics and physics programming sometimes on PCs for time critical routines

smileymicros wrote:

While it sounds like I’m digging my heels in here, I actually don’t see too much wrong with your suggestions especially for the early learning stage where the student could get a quick feel for what C does without having to hassle too much.

Can you suggest an easy, free and redistributable C training tool for the PC?

Dev C++ (Bloodshed) is a great package.
DJGPP is DOS based so is simple.
I've seen people use the Relo IDE with free Microsoft Beta packages
Borland still have some offerings (for free)
CDT (ecplise) with GCC

For ease of set up etc I'd point a newbie towards DevC++ (www.Bloodshed.net)

If you have access to MS Visual Studio that is probably best though.

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EW wrote:
Ok, a couple of posts above mentioned GCC. However, it is not exactly easy in the command-line form.

Here's a link to Dev-C++, a full-featured IDE, with the GCC compiler, for Windows:
http://www.bloodshed.net/devcpp.html

I've never tried it, but I've heard many good things about it.

Also note that the DJGPP port is technically only for DOS, not for Windows. So I would go with the above and skip DJGPP.

Including my vote for the Dev-C++ IDE. I downloaded it two weeks ago to have a compiler for learning C during my lunch break, using one of the online tutorials from this thread:https://www.avrfreaks.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=22514

The IDE was fully configured at installation and I was up and running in minutes.

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Hi,

I started to put a blurb in my OP about how I did not want this thread to turn into an argument about which learning method is best. There is no BEST learning method. Everyone learns differently and, IMO, this subjet has been covered completely in other threads.

So, I would like to respectively ask that future posts be kept ON TOPIC.

@Ubergeek
Thanks for endorsement, I had been looking at that software.

Thanks,
Steve

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Okay, how about this for an "off the wall" suggestion. You stated in your first post that you would be willing to even buy something if it came down to that. How about a second PC (just the box with an Ethernet connection and no monitor) and you put Linux on it? Linux comes with a variety of free tools, including GCC which will allow you to start writing and running C programs. Granted, it's not under Windows but the language is the same. With an Ethernet connection you could log into the Linux box or even just pop up a screen on your PC using UltraVNC. As a bonus, you also end up getting familiar with Unix environments, something that also looks good on your resume, if it comes down to that. If you have a big enough hard drive, you could even install it on your PC with a dual-boot setup, however, I find that it is nice to have both Windows and Linux running side by side on the same monitor rather than having to reboot to get from one to the other.

Dave

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Hi,

@Dave
Hmmm, interesting idea :!: I already have a PIII/600MHz gathering dust, I might as well make it earn a living. :wink:

Thanks, I will start researching and mulling this over.

Regards,
Steve