You can compile Stellarisware examples using any compiler. I have compiled them using CCS and GCC. CCS is easier to setup than GCC, but IIRC, it's only free (gratis) for TI DSKs, like the launchpad. I would only recommend the pay options, if you have the money to and already know how to use them. Also have in mind, with a little care, you can write code that builds properly in both CCS and GCC, so you can for example start with CCS, and switch later to GCC if it suits better your needs.
In case you want to give GCC under GNU/Linux a try, you can check the tutorials I wrote in my blog.
Are you talking about just the compiler, or about the compiler plus the development environment?
Background on my comments: I have not used GCC for the stellairs
I have used CCS version 5 with the included environment.
I haven't had much problem with the CCS complier
However it's integration into Eclipse (the environment) leaves a lot to be desired.
The documentation is also rather lacking.
CCS is a huge download
The environment makes a lot of simple things a lot more complex than they should be
(e.g. to turn on a compiler switch, e.g. to get a listing with assembler as well as C source, you have to dig through half
a dozen screens of checkboxes and dropdowns. The documentation tells you what command line switch to use, but
there is no help to figure out where they buried it in the GUI. So you get the worst of both worlds (arcane command line switch hidden
in a complex set of config screens)).
There are also multiple places in the GUI where you can define variables, some of the places will make a variable defined one place
look like it was defined in another place. (Makes it harder to copy example projects - you can create something that looks identical to an
example, but doesn't work like it.)
CCS doesn't seem to understand the Stellaris libraries, headers, etc. If you create a new project you have to manually
import the libraries you want to use. (I am used to compilers where you tell them where the libraries are once and
then they keep using them).
CCS should also be a lot smarter about importing source code. If I import a bunch of code which has directories named include (or inc)
and there are a bunch of .h files (in include directory, or otherwise). It would make a lot of sense for the environment to suggest
putting those directories in the list of include directories, rather than just spewing a bunch of error messages about not being able
to find included files, and making me slog through a bunch of menu entries to type in the directory names. (Even letting me select the include directories directly from the directory list would be some improvement.)
Exporting a project out of CCS is another difficult operation (a ton of options, and no guidance that I have found, still haven't licked that
The documentation is hard to search and seems to be missing a lot of basic content. (Getting started, where to find options in the GUI,
particulars of the C dialect they use)
So while there are a lot of nice features in the environment - highlighting errors, showing macro expansions (though sometimes this
gets confused), source level debugger, etc. But still has a lot of really rough edges, simple things that should be easy, but instead it makes them more difficult.
At the moment I am not sure whether time better spent wrestling with and trying to tame CCS, or trying to get GCC installed/configured/etc.
Don't mean this to be a rant, hope that it may provide some useful perspective.