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@section Symbols
BFD tries to maintain as much symbol information as it can when
it moves information from file to file. BFD passes information
to applications though the @code{asymbol} structure. When the
application requests the symbol table, BFD reads the table in
the native form and translates parts of it into the internal
format. To maintain more than the information passed to
applications, some targets keep some information ``behind the
scenes'' in a structure only the particular back end knows
about. For example, the coff back end keeps the original
symbol table structure as well as the canonical structure when
a BFD is read in. On output, the coff back end can reconstruct
the output symbol table so that no information is lost, even
information unique to coff which BFD doesn't know or
understand. If a coff symbol table were read, but were written
through an a.out back end, all the coff specific information
would be lost. The symbol table of a BFD
is not necessarily read in until a canonicalize request is
made. Then the BFD back end fills in a table provided by the
application with pointers to the canonical information. To
output symbols, the application provides BFD with a table of
pointers to pointers to @code{asymbol}s. This allows applications
like the linker to output a symbol as it was read, since the ``behind
the scenes'' information will be still available.
* Reading Symbols::
* Writing Symbols::
* Mini Symbols::
* typedef asymbol::
* symbol handling functions::
@end menu
@node Reading Symbols, Writing Symbols, Symbols, Symbols
@subsection Reading symbols
There are two stages to reading a symbol table from a BFD:
allocating storage, and the actual reading process. This is an
excerpt from an application which reads the symbol table:
long storage_needed;
asymbol **symbol_table;
long number_of_symbols;
long i;
storage_needed = bfd_get_symtab_upper_bound (abfd);
if (storage_needed < 0)
if (storage_needed == 0)
symbol_table = xmalloc (storage_needed);
number_of_symbols =
bfd_canonicalize_symtab (abfd, symbol_table);
if (number_of_symbols < 0)
for (i = 0; i < number_of_symbols; i++)
process_symbol (symbol_table[i]);
@end example
All storage for the symbols themselves is in an objalloc
connected to the BFD; it is freed when the BFD is closed.
@node Writing Symbols, Mini Symbols, Reading Symbols, Symbols
@subsection Writing symbols
Writing of a symbol table is automatic when a BFD open for
writing is closed. The application attaches a vector of
pointers to pointers to symbols to the BFD being written, and
fills in the symbol count. The close and cleanup code reads
through the table provided and performs all the necessary
operations. The BFD output code must always be provided with an
``owned'' symbol: one which has come from another BFD, or one
which has been created using @code{bfd_make_empty_symbol}. Here is an
example showing the creation of a symbol table with only one element:
#include "sysdep.h"
#include "bfd.h"
int main (void)
bfd *abfd;
asymbol *ptrs[2];
asymbol *new;
abfd = bfd_openw ("foo","a.out-sunos-big");
bfd_set_format (abfd, bfd_object);
new = bfd_make_empty_symbol (abfd);
new->name = "dummy_symbol";
new->section = bfd_make_section_old_way (abfd, ".text");
new->flags = BSF_GLOBAL;
new->value = 0x12345;
ptrs[0] = new;
ptrs[1] = 0;
bfd_set_symtab (abfd, ptrs, 1);
bfd_close (abfd);
return 0;
nm foo
00012345 A dummy_symbol
@end example
Many formats cannot represent arbitrary symbol information; for
instance, the @code{a.out} object format does not allow an
arbitrary number of sections. A symbol pointing to a section
which is not one of @code{.text}, @code{.data} or @code{.bss} cannot
be described.
@node Mini Symbols, typedef asymbol, Writing Symbols, Symbols
@subsection Mini Symbols
Mini symbols provide read-only access to the symbol table.
They use less memory space, but require more time to access.
They can be useful for tools like nm or objdump, which may
have to handle symbol tables of extremely large executables.
The @code{bfd_read_minisymbols} function will read the symbols
into memory in an internal form. It will return a @code{void *}
pointer to a block of memory, a symbol count, and the size of
each symbol. The pointer is allocated using @code{malloc}, and
should be freed by the caller when it is no longer needed.
The function @code{bfd_minisymbol_to_symbol} will take a pointer
to a minisymbol, and a pointer to a structure returned by
@code{bfd_make_empty_symbol}, and return a @code{asymbol} structure.
The return value may or may not be the same as the value from
@code{bfd_make_empty_symbol} which was passed in.
@node typedef asymbol, symbol handling functions, Mini Symbols, Symbols
@subsection typedef asymbol
An @code{asymbol} has the form:
typedef struct bfd_symbol
/* A pointer to the BFD which owns the symbol. This information
is necessary so that a back end can work out what additional
information (invisible to the application writer) is carried
with the symbol.
This field is *almost* redundant, since you can use section->owner
instead, except that some symbols point to the global sections
bfd_@{abs,com,und@}_section. This could be fixed by making
these globals be per-bfd (or per-target-flavor). FIXME. */
struct bfd *the_bfd; /* Use bfd_asymbol_bfd(sym) to access this field. */
/* The text of the symbol. The name is left alone, and not copied; the
application may not alter it. */
const char *name;
/* The value of the symbol. This really should be a union of a
numeric value with a pointer, since some flags indicate that
a pointer to another symbol is stored here. */
symvalue value;
/* Attributes of a symbol. */
#define BSF_NO_FLAGS 0x00
/* The symbol has local scope; @code{static} in @code{C}. The value
is the offset into the section of the data. */
#define BSF_LOCAL (1 << 0)
/* The symbol has global scope; initialized data in @code{C}. The
value is the offset into the section of the data. */
#define BSF_GLOBAL (1 << 1)
/* The symbol has global scope and is exported. The value is
the offset into the section of the data. */
#define BSF_EXPORT BSF_GLOBAL /* No real difference. */
/* A normal C symbol would be one of:
@code{BSF_LOCAL}, @code{BSF_COMMON}, @code{BSF_UNDEFINED} or
@code{BSF_GLOBAL}. */
/* The symbol is a debugging record. The value has an arbitrary
meaning, unless BSF_DEBUGGING_RELOC is also set. */
#define BSF_DEBUGGING (1 << 2)
/* The symbol denotes a function entry point. Used in ELF,
perhaps others someday. */
#define BSF_FUNCTION (1 << 3)
/* Used by the linker. */
#define BSF_KEEP (1 << 5)
#define BSF_KEEP_G (1 << 6)
/* A weak global symbol, overridable without warnings by
a regular global symbol of the same name. */
#define BSF_WEAK (1 << 7)
/* This symbol was created to point to a section, e.g. ELF's
STT_SECTION symbols. */
#define BSF_SECTION_SYM (1 << 8)
/* The symbol used to be a common symbol, but now it is
allocated. */
#define BSF_OLD_COMMON (1 << 9)
/* In some files the type of a symbol sometimes alters its
location in an output file - ie in coff a @code{ISFCN} symbol
which is also @code{C_EXT} symbol appears where it was
declared and not at the end of a section. This bit is set
by the target BFD part to convey this information. */
#define BSF_NOT_AT_END (1 << 10)
/* Signal that the symbol is the label of constructor section. */
#define BSF_CONSTRUCTOR (1 << 11)
/* Signal that the symbol is a warning symbol. The name is a
warning. The name of the next symbol is the one to warn about;
if a reference is made to a symbol with the same name as the next
symbol, a warning is issued by the linker. */
#define BSF_WARNING (1 << 12)
/* Signal that the symbol is indirect. This symbol is an indirect
pointer to the symbol with the same name as the next symbol. */
#define BSF_INDIRECT (1 << 13)
/* BSF_FILE marks symbols that contain a file name. This is used
for ELF STT_FILE symbols. */
#define BSF_FILE (1 << 14)
/* Symbol is from dynamic linking information. */
#define BSF_DYNAMIC (1 << 15)
/* The symbol denotes a data object. Used in ELF, and perhaps
others someday. */
#define BSF_OBJECT (1 << 16)
/* This symbol is a debugging symbol. The value is the offset
into the section of the data. BSF_DEBUGGING should be set
as well. */
#define BSF_DEBUGGING_RELOC (1 << 17)
/* This symbol is thread local. Used in ELF. */
#define BSF_THREAD_LOCAL (1 << 18)
/* This symbol represents a complex relocation expression,
with the expression tree serialized in the symbol name. */
#define BSF_RELC (1 << 19)
/* This symbol represents a signed complex relocation expression,
with the expression tree serialized in the symbol name. */
#define BSF_SRELC (1 << 20)
/* This symbol was created by bfd_get_synthetic_symtab. */
#define BSF_SYNTHETIC (1 << 21)
/* This symbol is an indirect code object. Unrelated to BSF_INDIRECT.
The dynamic linker will compute the value of this symbol by
calling the function that it points to. BSF_FUNCTION must
also be also set. */
/* This symbol is a globally unique data object. The dynamic linker
will make sure that in the entire process there is just one symbol
with this name and type in use. BSF_OBJECT must also be set. */
#define BSF_GNU_UNIQUE (1 << 23)
flagword flags;
/* A pointer to the section to which this symbol is
relative. This will always be non NULL, there are special
sections for undefined and absolute symbols. */
struct bfd_section *section;
/* Back end special data. */
void *p;
bfd_vma i;
@end example
@node symbol handling functions, , typedef asymbol, Symbols
@subsection Symbol handling functions
@findex bfd_get_symtab_upper_bound
@subsubsection @code{bfd_get_symtab_upper_bound}
Return the number of bytes required to store a vector of pointers
to @code{asymbols} for all the symbols in the BFD @var{abfd},
including a terminal NULL pointer. If there are no symbols in
the BFD, then return 0. If an error occurs, return -1.
#define bfd_get_symtab_upper_bound(abfd) \
BFD_SEND (abfd, _bfd_get_symtab_upper_bound, (abfd))
@end example
@findex bfd_is_local_label
@subsubsection @code{bfd_is_local_label}
bfd_boolean bfd_is_local_label (bfd *abfd, asymbol *sym);
@end example
Return TRUE if the given symbol @var{sym} in the BFD @var{abfd} is
a compiler generated local label, else return FALSE.
@findex bfd_is_local_label_name
@subsubsection @code{bfd_is_local_label_name}
bfd_boolean bfd_is_local_label_name (bfd *abfd, const char *name);
@end example
Return TRUE if a symbol with the name @var{name} in the BFD
@var{abfd} is a compiler generated local label, else return
FALSE. This just checks whether the name has the form of a
local label.
#define bfd_is_local_label_name(abfd, name) \
BFD_SEND (abfd, _bfd_is_local_label_name, (abfd, name))
@end example
@findex bfd_is_target_special_symbol
@subsubsection @code{bfd_is_target_special_symbol}
bfd_boolean bfd_is_target_special_symbol (bfd *abfd, asymbol *sym);
@end example
Return TRUE iff a symbol @var{sym} in the BFD @var{abfd} is something
special to the particular target represented by the BFD. Such symbols
should normally not be mentioned to the user.
#define bfd_is_target_special_symbol(abfd, sym) \
BFD_SEND (abfd, _bfd_is_target_special_symbol, (abfd, sym))
@end example
@findex bfd_canonicalize_symtab
@subsubsection @code{bfd_canonicalize_symtab}
Read the symbols from the BFD @var{abfd}, and fills in
the vector @var{location} with pointers to the symbols and
a trailing NULL.
Return the actual number of symbol pointers, not
including the NULL.
#define bfd_canonicalize_symtab(abfd, location) \
BFD_SEND (abfd, _bfd_canonicalize_symtab, (abfd, location))
@end example
@findex bfd_set_symtab
@subsubsection @code{bfd_set_symtab}
bfd_boolean bfd_set_symtab
(bfd *abfd, asymbol **location, unsigned int count);
@end example
Arrange that when the output BFD @var{abfd} is closed,
the table @var{location} of @var{count} pointers to symbols
will be written.
@findex bfd_print_symbol_vandf
@subsubsection @code{bfd_print_symbol_vandf}
void bfd_print_symbol_vandf (bfd *abfd, void *file, asymbol *symbol);
@end example
Print the value and flags of the @var{symbol} supplied to the
stream @var{file}.
@findex bfd_make_empty_symbol
@subsubsection @code{bfd_make_empty_symbol}
Create a new @code{asymbol} structure for the BFD @var{abfd}
and return a pointer to it.
This routine is necessary because each back end has private
information surrounding the @code{asymbol}. Building your own
@code{asymbol} and pointing to it will not create the private
information, and will cause problems later on.
#define bfd_make_empty_symbol(abfd) \
BFD_SEND (abfd, _bfd_make_empty_symbol, (abfd))
@end example
@findex _bfd_generic_make_empty_symbol
@subsubsection @code{_bfd_generic_make_empty_symbol}
asymbol *_bfd_generic_make_empty_symbol (bfd *);
@end example
Create a new @code{asymbol} structure for the BFD @var{abfd}
and return a pointer to it. Used by core file routines,
binary back-end and anywhere else where no private info
is needed.
@findex bfd_make_debug_symbol
@subsubsection @code{bfd_make_debug_symbol}
Create a new @code{asymbol} structure for the BFD @var{abfd},
to be used as a debugging symbol. Further details of its use have
yet to be worked out.
#define bfd_make_debug_symbol(abfd,ptr,size) \
BFD_SEND (abfd, _bfd_make_debug_symbol, (abfd, ptr, size))
@end example
@findex bfd_decode_symclass
@subsubsection @code{bfd_decode_symclass}
Return a character corresponding to the symbol
class of @var{symbol}, or '?' for an unknown class.
int bfd_decode_symclass (asymbol *symbol);
@end example
@findex bfd_is_undefined_symclass
@subsubsection @code{bfd_is_undefined_symclass}
Returns non-zero if the class symbol returned by
bfd_decode_symclass represents an undefined symbol.
Returns zero otherwise.
bfd_boolean bfd_is_undefined_symclass (int symclass);
@end example
@findex bfd_symbol_info
@subsubsection @code{bfd_symbol_info}
Fill in the basic info about symbol that nm needs.
Additional info may be added by the back-ends after
calling this function.
void bfd_symbol_info (asymbol *symbol, symbol_info *ret);
@end example
@findex bfd_copy_private_symbol_data
@subsubsection @code{bfd_copy_private_symbol_data}
bfd_boolean bfd_copy_private_symbol_data
(bfd *ibfd, asymbol *isym, bfd *obfd, asymbol *osym);
@end example
Copy private symbol information from @var{isym} in the BFD
@var{ibfd} to the symbol @var{osym} in the BFD @var{obfd}.
Return @code{TRUE} on success, @code{FALSE} on error. Possible error
returns are:
@itemize @bullet
@code{bfd_error_no_memory} -
Not enough memory exists to create private data for @var{osec}.
@end itemize
#define bfd_copy_private_symbol_data(ibfd, isymbol, obfd, osymbol) \
BFD_SEND (obfd, _bfd_copy_private_symbol_data, \
(ibfd, isymbol, obfd, osymbol))
@end example