Example of building a diet runtime-less C/C++ executable with GCC on Windows. Doesn’t try to do stuff like change the section alignment to get the smallest possible executable; we just want a normal executable that isn’t bloated.

Get a GCC build for Windows from:


Try building with the following command:

gcc main.cpp -O2 -flto -nostdlib -fno-stack-check -fno-stack-protector -mno-stack-arg-probe -fno-rtti -fno-exceptions -fno-unwind-tables -fno-asynchronous-unwind-tables -s -Qn -Wl,--entry=WinMainCRTStartup -Wl,--subsystem=windows:6.0 -Wl,--stack 0x100000,0x100000 -lkernel32 -luser32 -lshell32

(Tested on MinGW-w64 GCC 11.2.0): Generates a 3.5kb executable with no dependencies.


Flag Description
-O2 Enables optimization level 2.
-flto Enables link-time optimization.
-nostdlib Avoids linking to crt0 and libc (i.e. no runtime).
-fno-stack-check -fno-stack-protector -mno-stack-arg-probe Disables stack probes that try to make sure enough of the stack is committed at runtime (since we commit all of it upfront anyway, see below). Same as /Gs9999999 on MSVC.
-fno-rtti -fno-exceptions -fno-unwind-tables -fno-asynchronous-unwind-tables Disables RTTI and C++ exceptions. Probably not needed unless you’re linking to C++ libraries.
-s Strips unnecessary (debug?) information from the executable.
-Qn Strips the super useful GCC (7.2.7): Ultra-cool compiler!! xDDD comment from the executable.
-Wl,--entry=WinMainCRTStartup Tells the linker to use WinMainCRTStartup as the entry point, since that’s the default for MSVC’s linker. Can be changed to anything you want.
-Wl,--subsystem=windows:6.0 Tells the linker to set the subsystem in the PE file to windows (as opposed to console) which gets rid of the console window. Also sets the OS version to 6.0, which fixes ugly window decorations on modern versions of Windows.
-Wl,--stack 0x100000,0x100000 Tells the linker to set the stack reserve and stack commit entries in the PE file to 1 megabyte each, which also means we don’t need stack probes, since we’re committing as much stack as we have.


Anything here is public domain.


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