6. System Libraries

Q: Where Can I Find Linux System Specifications?
Q: What Is ld.so and How Do I Get It?
Q: How Do I Upgrade the Libraries without Trashing the System?
Q: What's All This about ELF? glibc?

Q: Where Can I Find Linux System Specifications?

A: As a start, look at the Linux Standards Base, http://www.linuxbase.org. The site contains information about test software, file system organization, and shared library naming conventions.

Q: What Is ld.so and How Do I Get It?

A: ld.so is the dynamic library loader. Each binary using shared libraries used to have about 3K of start-up code to find and load the shared libraries. Now that code has been put in a special shared library, /lib/ld.so, where all binaries can look for it, so that it wastes less disk space, and can be upgraded more easily.

ld.so can be obtained from http://tsx-11.mit.edu/pub/linux/packages/GCC/ and mirror sites. The latest version at the time of writing is ld.so.1.9.5.tar.gz.

/lib/ld-linux.so.1 is the same thing for ELF ("What's all this about ELF? ") and comes in the same package as the a.out loader.

Q: How Do I Upgrade the Libraries without Trashing the System?


WarningYou should always have a rescue disk set ready when you perform this procedure, in the likely event that something goes wrong!

This procedure is especially difficult if you're upgrading very old libraries like libc4. But you should be able to keep libc4 on the same system with libc5 libraries for the programs that still need them. The same holds true for upgrading from libc5 to the newer-yet glibc2 libraries.

The problem with upgrading dynamic libraries is that the moment you remove the old libraries, the utilities that you need to upgrade to the new version of the libraries don't work. There are ways around around this. One is to temporarily place a spare copy of the run time libraries, which are in /lib/, in /usr/lib/, or /usr/local/lib/, or another directory that is listed in the /etc/ld.so.conf file.

For example, when upgrading libc5 libraries, the files in /lib/ might look something like:

libc.so.5 libc.so.5.4.33 libm.so.5 libm.so.5.0.9

These are the C libraries and the math libraries. Copy them to another directory that is listed in /etc/ld.so.conf, like /usr/lib/:

 $ cp -df /lib/libc.so.5* /usr/lib/
 $ cp -df /lib/libm.so.5* /usr/lib/
 $ ldconfig

Be sure to run ldconfig to upgrade the library configuration.

The files libc.so.5 and libm.so.5 are symbolic links to the actual library files. When you upgrade, the new links will not be created if the old links are still there, unless you use the -f flag with cp. The -d flag to cp will copy the symbolic link itself, and not the file it points to.

If you need to overwrite the link to the library directly, use the -f flag with ln.

For example, to copy new libraries over the old ones, try this. Make a symbolic link to the new libraries first, then copy both the libraries and the links to /lib/, with the following commands.

 $ ln -sf ./libm.so.5.0.48 libm.so.5
 $ ln -sf ./libc.so.5.0.48 libc.so.5
 $ cp -df libm.so.5* /lib
 $ cp -df libc.so.5* /lib

Again, remember to run ldconfig after you copy the libraries.

If you are satisfied that everything is working correctly, you can remove the temporary copies of the old libraries from /usr/lib/ or wherever you copied them.

Q: What's All This about ELF? glibc?

A: See the ELF HOWTO by Daniel Barlow. Note that this is not the file move-to-elf, which is a blow-by-blow account of how to upgrade to ELF manually.

Linux has two different formats for executables, object files, and object code libraries, known as, "ELF". (The old format is called "a.out".) They have advantages, including better support for shared libraries and dynamic linking.

Both a.out and ELF binaries can coexist on a system. However, they use different shared C libraries, both of which have to be installed.

If you want to find out whether your system can run ELF binaries, look in /lib for a file named, libc.so.5. If it's there, you probably have ELF libraries. If you want to know whether your installation actually is ELF you can pick a representative program, like ls, and run file on it:

 -chiark:~> file /bin/ls
 /bin/ls: Linux/i386 impure executable (OMAGIC) - stripped

 valour:~> file /bin/ls
 /bin/ls: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1, stripped 

There is a patch to get 1.2.x to compile using the ELF compilers, and produce ELF core dumps, at ftp://tsx-11.mit.edu/pub/packages/GCC/. You do not need the patch merely to run ELF binaries. 1.3.x and later do not need the patch at all.

The GNU glibc2 libraries are essentially more recent versions of ELF libraries that follow most of the same processes for dynamic linking and loading. Upgrade information is contained in How Do I Upgrade the Libraries without Trashing the System?.