C++ Language Support

C++ is a general-purpose object-oriented programming language that is based on the C language.

Enabling C++ Support

Zephyr supports applications written in both C and C++. However, to use C++ in an application you must configure Zephyr to include C++ support by selecting the CONFIG_CPLUSPLUS in the application configuration file.

To enable C++ support, the compiler toolchain must also include a C++ compiler and the included compiler must be supported by the Zephyr build system. The Zephyr SDK, which includes the GNU C++ Compiler (part of GCC), is supported by Zephyr, and the features and their availability documented here assume the use of the Zephyr SDK.

When compiling a source file, the build system selects the C++ compiler based on the suffix (extension) of the files. Files identified with either a cpp or a cxx suffix are compiled using the C++ compiler. For example, myCplusplusApp.cpp is compiled using C++.

The C++ standard requires the main() function to have the return type of int while Zephyr uses void by default. If your main() is defined in a C++ source file, you must select CONFIG_CPP_MAIN in the application configuration file so that Zephyr uses int main(void) instead of void main(void).


Do not use C++ for kernel, driver, or system initialization code.

Language Features

Zephyr currently provides only a subset of C++ functionality. The following features are not supported:

  • Static global object destruction

  • OS-specific C++ standard library classes (e.g. std::thread, std::mutex)

While not an exhaustive list, support for the following functionality is included:

  • Inheritance

  • Virtual functions

  • Virtual tables

  • Static global object constructors

  • Dynamic object management with the new and delete operators

  • Exceptions

  • RTTI

  • Standard Template Library (STL)

Static global object constructors are initialized after the drivers are initialized but before the application main() function. Therefore, use of C++ is restricted to application code.

In order to make use of the C++ exceptions, the CONFIG_EXCEPTIONS must be selected in the application configuration file.

Zephyr C++ Subsystem

Zephyr C++ subsystem (subsys/cpp) provides a minimal subset of the C++ standard library and application binary interface (ABI) functions to enable basic C++ language support. This includes:

  • new and delete operators

  • virtual function stub and vtables

  • static global initializers for global constructors

The scope of the C++ subsystem is strictly limited to providing the basic C++ language support, and it does not implement any Standard Template Library (STL) classes and functions. For this reason, it is only suitable for use in the applications that implement their own (non-standard) class library and do rely on the Standard Template Library (STL) components.

Any application that makes use of the Standard Template Library (STL) components, such as std::string and std::vector, must enable the C++ standard library support.

C++ Standard Library

The C++ Standard Library is a collection of classes and functions that are part of the ISO C++ standard (std namespace).

Zephyr does not include any C++ standard library implementation in source code form. Instead, it allows configuring the build system to link against the pre-built C++ standard library included in the C++ compiler toolchain.

For instance, when building with the Zephyr SDK, the build system can be configured to link against the GNU C++ Standard Library (libstdc++.a) included in the Zephyr SDK, which is a fully featured C++ standard library that provides all features required by the ISO C++ standard including the Standard Template Library (STL).

To enable C++ standard library, select the CONFIG_LIB_CPLUSPLUS in the application configuration file.