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What exactly is the c/c++ runtime library?

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Every now and again I read people talking about the c or c++ runtime libraries... can someone in a nutshell explain to me what these are, what they are for, and when I need them. I''ve tried google and the search feature on GDNet and everything I found seemed to be for people who already knew what they are. When I''m using Visual C++ .NET at school every now and again I get errors that have something to do with the C++ runtime... A few people who responded to my other thread talked about the runtime libraries and a file called "msvcrt7*.dll" When I''m using Dev-C++ w/ MinGW, I never encounter anything pointing me to a c or c++ runtime library... it would also seem that my executables don''t need to ship with any extra dependencies, because everyone who participated in the ASCII Fishtank and ASCII junky mini contests were able to run my entries just fine... As you can see, I''m very confused... "c runtime library" sounds like a separate library I would need at runtime to run a c program... but why would that be?

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The executable files are linked against several dynamic libraries. Which ones depends mostly on the compiler (or more exactly the linker). The C(++) language has some basic functionality, like the functions provided in the standard headers stdio.h, stdlib.h, iostream, etc. Those functions are provided by the runtime libraries. So of course, an end user of your software won''t want to install the whole compiler suite and the debuggable and thus big libs you used during development, so the separate RT libs provide a relatively lightweight way to keep the software running without the need for static linking.

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