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15.1 Using the Cross Compiler

The cross compiler uses a language that resembles Forth, but isn't. The main difference is that you can execute Forth code after definition, while you usually can't execute the code compiled by cross, because the code you are compiling is typically for a different computer than the one you are compiling on.

The Makefile is already set up to allow you to create kernels for new architectures with a simple make command. The generic kernels using the GCC compiled virtual machine are created in the normal build process with make. To create a embedded Gforth executable for e.g. the 8086 processor (running on a DOS machine), type


This will use the machine description from the arch/8086 directory to create a new kernel. A machine file may look like that:

     \ Parameter for target systems                         06oct92py
         4 Constant cell             \ cell size in bytes
         2 Constant cell<<           \ cell shift to bytes
         5 Constant cell>bit         \ cell shift to bits
         8 Constant bits/char        \ bits per character
         8 Constant bits/byte        \ bits per byte [default: 8]
         8 Constant float            \ bytes per float
         8 Constant /maxalign        \ maximum alignment in bytes
     false Constant bigendian        \ byte order
     ( true=big, false=little )
     include machpc.fs               \ feature list

This part is obligatory for the cross compiler itself, the feature list is used by the kernel to conditionally compile some features in and out, depending on whether the target supports these features.

There are some optional features, if you define your own primitives, have an assembler, or need special, nonstandard preparation to make the boot process work. asm-include includes an assembler, prims-include includes primitives, and >boot prepares for booting.

     : asm-include    ." Include assembler" cr
       s" arch/8086/asm.fs" included ;
     : prims-include  ." Include primitives" cr
       s" arch/8086/prim.fs" included ;
     : >boot          ." Prepare booting" cr
       s" ' boot >body into-forth 1+ !" evaluate ;

These words are used as sort of macro during the cross compilation in the file kernel/main.fs. Instead of using these macros, it would be possible — but more complicated — to write a new kernel project file, too.

kernel/main.fs expects the machine description file name on the stack; the cross compiler itself (cross.fs) assumes that either mach-file leaves a counted string on the stack, or machine-file leaves an address, count pair of the filename on the stack.

The feature list is typically controlled using SetValue, generic files that are used by several projects can use DefaultValue instead. Both functions work like Value, when the value isn't defined, but SetValue works like to if the value is defined, and DefaultValue doesn't set anything, if the value is defined.

     \ generic mach file for pc gforth                       03sep97jaw
     true DefaultValue NIL  \ relocating
     true DefaultValue file          \ controls the presence of the
                                     \ file access wordset
     true DefaultValue OS            \ flag to indicate a operating system
     true DefaultValue prims         \ true: primitives are c-code
     true DefaultValue floating      \ floating point wordset is present
     true DefaultValue glocals       \ gforth locals are present
                                     \ will be loaded
     true DefaultValue dcomps        \ double number comparisons
     true DefaultValue hash          \ hashing primitives are loaded/present
     true DefaultValue xconds        \ used together with glocals,
                                     \ special conditionals supporting gforths'
                                     \ local variables
     true DefaultValue header        \ save a header information
     true DefaultValue backtrace     \ enables backtrace code
     false DefaultValue ec
     false DefaultValue crlf
     cell 2 = [IF] &32 [ELSE] &256 [THEN] KB DefaultValue kernel-size
     &16 KB          DefaultValue stack-size
     &15 KB &512 +   DefaultValue fstack-size
     &15 KB          DefaultValue rstack-size
     &14 KB &512 +   DefaultValue lstack-size