ld Is Now A Cross Link-Editor
By Ali Bahrami on Mar 19, 2008
With the integration of
PSARC 2008/179 cross link-editorinto Solaris Nevada build 87, the Solaris ld became a cross link-editor. Now, ld running on any type of hardware can link objects for any of the systems Solaris supports. This is currently sparc and x86, but there are people playing with OpenSolaris on other hardware too, so who knows what we might end up with?
6671255 link-editor should support cross linking
The user interface to this new capability is a simple extension of ld's traditional behavior. Traditionally, ld establishes the class (whether the object is 32 or 64-bit) of the object being generated by examining the first ELF object processed from the command line. In the case where an object is being built solely from an archive library or a mapfile, the -64 command line option is available to explicitly override this default. We have extended this to also determine the machine type of the object to produce:
- The class and machine type of the resulting object default to those of the first ELF object processed from the command line.
- The new '-z target=' command line option can be used to explicitly specify the machine type.
Of course, it's a rare program that doesn't link against at least one system library. You're going to need libc, if nothing else. To do a successful cross-link, you'll need to have an image of the root filesystem for a system of the target type. There are many ways to do this. For testing purposes, I used a sparc and x86 system, using NFS to allow each system to see the root filesystem of the other.
Even though we now have a cross link-editor, we expect that the vast majority of links will be native, for the machine running the linker. We decided to pursue cross linking anyway, for two reasons:
- To lower the bar for OpenSolaris ports: People have had some success using the GNU ld to port OpenSolaris, but it is difficult to get very far that way. The code in Solaris depends on link-editor features that are specific to the Solaris ld, so using GNU ld involves a fair amount of hacking around these things to make progress, and the farther up the stack you go from the kernel to userland, the harder it gets. We hope that providing a better framework for adding targets to the Solaris ld will help such efforts. It should now be possible (though still not trivial!) to add support for a new target to the Solaris linker running on sparc or x86, and then use the resulting system to cross-build for the new platform.
- To allow the use of fast/cheap commodity desktop systems to build objects for other systems, be they large expensive systems, or small embedded devices.
A cross link-editor is a significant step, but is of little use unless you also have a cross-compiler and assembler. The GNU gcc compiler can be built as a cross compiler, and that should be very helpful for OpenSolaris ports. However, the Sun Studio compilers are native compilers, so it will still be awhile before I can use my amd64 desktop to build a sparc version of Solaris as part of work at Sun. We've taken a first step. It will be interesting to see what follows.