[swift-dev] Changing ELF layout

Saleem Abdulrasool compnerd at compnerd.org
Mon Sep 18 23:24:27 CDT 2017

On Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 4:07 PM, Joe Groff <jgroff at apple.com> wrote:

> On Sep 18, 2017, at 3:31 PM, Saleem Abdulrasool via swift-dev <
> swift-dev at swift.org> wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 9:36 AM John McCall <rjmccall at apple.com> wrote:
>> On Sep 17, 2017, at 10:15 AM, Saleem Abdulrasool <compnerd at compnerd.org>
>> wrote:
>> On Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 6:19 PM, John McCall <rjmccall at apple.com> wrote:
>>> > On Sep 16, 2017, at 6:06 PM, Saleem Abdulrasool via swift-dev <
>>> swift-dev at swift.org> wrote:
>>> > Hello,
>>> >
>>> > I'd like to propose that we change the locations that we use to store
>>> the type metadata, protocol conformances, type references, reflection
>>> strings, field metadata, and associated types.
>>> >
>>> > I think that it is possible to simplify the design for the linker
>>> tables by changing section names and relying on the linker to perform the
>>> work necessary to generate the tables so that they can be walked later.
>>> >
>>> > Switching sections would mean that we would lose interoperability with
>>> previously built libraries.  Given that there is ABI stability work going
>>> on for at least the Darwin target, I figure that this would be the best
>>> time to do this.
>>> >
>>> > Would this be acceptable?  Is compatibility something that we need to
>>> worry about?
>>> Compatibility is not something that we're currently promising.  I think
>>> this is a fine time to be working on this problem.
>>> It's not clear from your proposal whether you're just proposing changing
>>> sections or whether you're interested in more invasive changes to metadata
>>> emission.  Can you be more specific.
>> Certainly.
>> Right now, we have two special object files which must be included in a
>> certain order to ensure that the sections that I mentioned earlier are
>> bounded and grouped.  However, this is unneessary.  As long as the section
>> name is a valid C identifier, the linker will group and bound the sections
>> with special variables that it will synthesize
>> (__{start,stop}_[SectionName]).  This will allow us to replace the two
>> file approach with a single file approach.  Furthermore, it will allow the
>> file to be injected anywhere (it drops the need for the files to appear in
>> a specific order).  Finally, it simplifies the logic so that we can write
>> the entire thing in C rather than having to roll the begin/end content in
>> assembly.
>> Yes, if that's the case, that would be massively useful.
>> The runtime needs to be able to find these bounds in an arbitrary image,
>> since there may be multiple images in the program containing Swift code.
>> Are those symbols available dynamically even if it they aren't used
>> statically?
> It should be possible to preserve the symbols.  In general, it is possible
> to dead strip symbols.  So having the object that needs to be injected
> reference them is sufficient to ensure that they aren't dead stripped.
> After that, they can be dynamically looked up even if they aren't
> statically used.
> I'll try to get to this change soon!
> The symbols would not only have to not be stripped but also be exported
> with protected or default visibility in order for dlsym to find them
> normally. Is it possible to get the linker to export these implicit symbols
> with protected visibility? If not, we might still need an asm stub to
> define visible symbols as aliases for the implicit section symbols. That
> stub could at least be order-independent and portable, which would be an
> improvement over what we have now.

The default is default visibility, which IMO is not really what we want.
Ideally, we want protected visibility.  Now, this is possible to, but, the
code for is every so slightly distasteful.

__attribute__((__section__("section"))) const int i = 0;
__attribute__((__visibility__("protected"))) extern void *__start_section;
__attribute__((__visibility__("protected"))) extern void *__stop_section;
__UINTPTR_TYPE__ get_section_size(void) { return __stop_section -
__start_section; }

The thing is that we need the local function (in this case,
`get_section_size`) to both preserve the symbols as well as to ensure that
the symbols receive the proper visibility.  In the worst case, we would
need a structure that is preserved to aid in keeping the reference to the


Saleem Abdulrasool
compnerd (at) compnerd (dot) org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-dev/attachments/20170918/d9230b41/attachment.html>

More information about the swift-dev mailing list