Working ELF GCC

Peter Naulls peter at
Tue Oct 7 05:07:06 PDT 2003

In message <3F82A831.9000507 at>
          Nick Burrett <nick at> wrote:

[ ELF interoperability ]

> I'm not entirely convinced that it is vital.  I will stress that we
> *will* maintain compatibility with AOF.  Or at least a toolset will 
> exist for the purposes of working with AOF/ALF.
> My original reasons for wanting ELF support were:
> 1. Debugging symbols.  Potential to use GDB.
> 2. PIC.
> 3. Weak symbols.  I don't think the AOF implementation is a true weak 
> symbol implementation.  I have a feeling that C++ binaries will be 
> smaller in ELF than AOF because of this.

All excellent reasons.  I also recall a discussion on the FORTRAN
compiler that there wasn't a situation AOF wasn't able to cope with.

> > Fine, and I'm not suggesting you should.  What I _am_ doing is pointing
> > out the current situtation.  What I'm lacking from your reply is
> > practical solutions about what we should do.
> Unfortunately I don't have any.

Well, I _do_ think you have made some :-)

> I don't think we are saying that the move to ELF is inevitable.  We
> might be able to demonstrate that the move to ELF is a compelling one if 
> we can prove that the ELF userland tools allow developers to do stuff 
> they couldn't easily do with AOF.

No, I don't think it is, not necessarily immediate.  And the reasons
for doing so, to many people, might be too abstract or too marginal to
be compelling.  But I have plenty of reasons of my own to move to ELF;
which other developers may or may not care about.

> It is possible to write makefiles that could target both formats.  I
> think this is more of an issue for developers of libraries rather than 
> applications.

Yes, it is, and I don't think it's relevant to application developers.
I also think given the correct changes to the toolchain, these changes
will be very minimal, or optional.

> Many users seem to be frightened of using GCCSDK/UnixLib anyway.  I see
> no reason not to scare them further by providing a myriad of different 
> target types :-)

Yes, quite.  And this is a hard problem to solve, quite apart from the
ELF issue.  Although it's often the experienced developers who fall
foul of problems.

> Certainly writing some sort of information on the website that clearly
> explains this stuff in a way that makes users choose the right tools for 
> the job would be a tricky task.

Yes, it is - especially when its status might rapidly change.  It
doesn't mean we shouldn't try :-)

Peter Naulls - peter at        |
GCC for RISC OS                        |

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