Subject: Re: When is ELF coming?
To: Ty Sarna <>
From: Ted Lemon <>
List: tech-kern
Date: 11/25/1996 22:55:40
> ...and if you're going to have not-quite-ELF, why ELF at all? Given that
> it's a fairly flawed format (and not only because of the "which OS?"
> issue), being standard is the main thing it has to offer.

No, a slightly modified ELF would still leverage the tremendous amount
of work that has gone into supporting the hard parts of the ELF
format.  Indeed, this is precisely why ELF is a good choice: it's a
standard format that does a good job at most of the things we need,
and that can be modified to do exactly what we need with little

The reason the GNU toolchain doesn't already have our a.out
shared-library hacks is because they involved large, pervasive changes
to the toolchain which took a lot of time.  During this time, the GNU
toolchain was evolving in a different direction.  When the time came
to consider merging the two, the two branches had diverged too greatly
for a merge to be practical.

By contrast, ELF already has shared libraries and weak symbols.  There
is no additional work to do.  There are no large, pervasive changes to
make to the toolchain.  If we need to tweak the header structure
slightly, so be it - this is not a large, pervasive change.  It is a
small, localized change which would not be difficult to merge back in
to the main GNU development tree.

It if is not possible to avoid, a modified version of ELF is still a
very viable and appropriate alternative.  If you have another format
to suggest, please do, but vague handwaving about hypothetical formats
for which no implementation exists are not going to do us any good.