From Fedora Project Wiki

Use update-alternatives for /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++


Modify the gcc package so that the /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++ symlinks are managed by update-alternatives.


Current status

Detailed Description

The gcc package currently installs symlinks to /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++ which point to /usr/bin/gcc and /usr/bin/g++ respectively. For this change, the gcc package will be modified so that update-alternatives creates and manages these symlinks.

In addition to modifying the gcc package, the clang package will be modified so that /usr/bin/clang and /usr/bin/clang++ can be used as alternatives for /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++. The clang alternatives will have a lower priority than the gcc alternatives, so that by default, gcc will provide the /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++ implementations.

The clang package currently has a run-time dependency on gcc, so this ensures that gcc will always provide the default implementation, because it's impossible to install clang without gcc.

The only way users will be able to change the /usr/bin/cc or /usr/bin/c++ implementations will be by explicitly using the update-alternatives tool.

Benefit to Fedora

Many build systems default to using /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++ as the default C/C++ compilers. Being able to easily swap out these implementation will provide a lot of flexibility within Fedora for doing things like:

  • Setting up alternative buildroots for testing.
  • Installing a gcc wrapper script to /usr/bin/cc to help migrate packages to new compiler flags or to capture statistics about compiler usage.
  • Letting users experiment easily with alternate compilers.
  • Easily switch between system gcc and a development version of gcc.


  • Proposal owners: The proposal owner will implement the necessary changes in the gcc and clang packages.
  • Other developers: The gcc maintainers will be responsible for reviewing and approving changes to the gcc package.
  • Release engineering: [1] (a check of an impact with Release Engineering is needed)
  • Policies and guidelines: No policies or guidelines will need to be updated as a result of this change.
  • Trademark approval: N/A (not needed for this Change)

Upgrade/compatibility impact

This change should not impact upgradeability.

How To Test

CI tests will be added to the gcc package to ensure that /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++ still point to /usr/bin/gcc and /usr/bin/g++ when installed. There will also be a CI test added to the clang package to ensure that /usr/bin/gcc and /usr/bin/g++ remain the default when clang is installed.

User Experience

This change will give users a much better way to experiment using other compilers for their own development. They will be able to easily switch between different compilers without having to modify their projects build system or make non-standard changes to their Fedora system.


This change has no other dependencies besides the changes to the gcc and clang packages.

Contingency Plan

  • Contingency mechanism: (What to do? Who will do it?) Proposal Owner will revert changes made to gcc and clang packages and rebuild.
  • Contingency deadline: If the changes are not complete by 2 weeks before the mass rebuild, then we will consider postponing to the next Fedora release and back out any changes that were made.
  • Blocks release? No
  • Blocks product? None


Release notes will be added for this change.

Release Notes

The user /usr/bin/cc and /usr/bin/c++ symlinks are now managed by update-alternatives. If you would like to change these symlinks to point to another compiler, like clang, for example, you can use these commands:

update-alternatives --set cc /usr/bin/clang

update-alternatives --set c++ /usr/bin/clang++