Linux is becoming programming heaven for developers, being an open-source and free operating system. Turbo C compiler is already an old approach to compile programs so let us programmers move to Linux for a new programming environment. In this article, we will explain how to write, compile, and run a simple C program. This will serve as a basis for you to move to more complicated and useful C programs that you can write and execute on Linux.

We have run the steps and commands mentioned in this article on a Ubuntu 20.04 LTS system but it will work on other versions like Ubuntu 18.04 or distributions like Debian 10 in the exact same way.

We will be using the Linux command-line tool, the Terminal, in order to compile a simple C program. To open the Terminal, you can use the Ubuntu Dash or the Ctrl+Alt+T shortcut.

Step 1: Install the build-essential packages

In order to compile and execute a C program, you need to have the essential packages installed on your system. Enter the following command as root in your Linux Terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential

Install build-essential packages with apt

You will be asked to enter the password for root; the installation process will begin after that. Please make sure that you are connected to the internet.

Step 2: Write a simple C program

After installing the essential packages, let us write a simple C program.

Open Ubuntu’s graphical Text Editor and write or copy the following sample program into it:


int main()
printf("\nA sample C program\n\n");
return 0;

Then save the file with .c extension. In this example, I am naming my C program as sampleProgram.c

Example C program

Alternatively, you can write the C program through the Terminal in gedit as follows:

$ gedit sampleProgram.c

This will create a .c file where you can write and save a program.

Step 3: Compile the C program with gcc Compiler

In your Terminal, enter the following command in order to make an executable version of the program you have written:


$ gcc [programName].c -o programName


$ gcc sampleProgram.c -o sampleProgram

Compile sourcecode with gcc

Make sure your program is located in your Home folder. Otherwise, you will need to specify appropriate paths in this command.

Step 4: Run the program

The final step is to run the compiled C program. Use the following syntax to do so:

$ ./programName


$ ./sampleProgram

Start our compiled program

You can see how the program is executed in the above example, displaying the text we wrote to print through it.

Through this article, you have learned how to write, compile and run a simple C program in Linux. All you need is the essential packages and the right skills to make you a programming guru in Linux!

How to Write and Run a C Program in Linux

Karim Buzdar

About the Author: Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. You can reach Karim on LinkedIn