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This paper investigates linear precoding for bit-interleaved coded modulation (BICM) on additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) channels. Concatenating a linear precoder as an inner encoder with an outer (convolutional) encoder produces a powerful code with a limited decoding complexity. Linear precoders are examined and optimized for two scenarios: using (i) a noniterative decoding strategy and (ii) an iterative decoding strategy under a perfect feedback assumption. The precoder design is based on an information-theoretical approach, on the one hand, and a pair-wise error probability (PEP) analysis, on the other hand. Both approaches render convenient precoder design rules. For a binary phase-shift keying (BPSK) signal set, the optimal precoders that result from these rules are also derived. Numerical results confirm the analytical findings and simulations illustrate the effectiveness of the approach.