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C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed between 1969 and 1973 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. It is one of the most widely used programming languages of all time. See Wikipedia article.

In Emacs the default major mode associated with C files (.c and .h) is c-mode.

Browsing code

Cscope is the de-facto tool for browsing C code. The package is bundled with xscope mode which enables use of cscope from within Emacs.


  • While in your C source file, run M-x compile
  • Type the compile command and hit RET
  • You can recompile without being prompted with M-x recompile


gdb (the GNU Project Debugger) can be embedded in Emacs.

While browsing your project's code:

  • Run M-x gdb to start a new gdb session
  • Specify gdb parameters for your project.
  • A new buffer "*gud-xxx*" for the gdb session is created.