Executable File Format

Table of contents:

In a Linux environment, source files that have been compiled into an executable form to be run by the system are put into a special format called ELF (Executable and Linking Format). Files in ELF format contain a header entry (for specifying hardware/program characteristics), program text, data, relocation information, and symbol table and string table information. Files in ELF format are marked as executable by the operating system and may be run by entering their name on the command line. Older versions of UNIX stored executable files in a.out format (Assembler OUtpuT Format). While this format is little used today, its name is still tied to the compilation sequence. When C/C++ program files are compiled, the compiler, by default, places the executable file in a file called a.out .


The layout of the header entry of an ELF format file is defined by the Elf32_Ehdr (or Elf64_Ehdr ) structure found in the header file . Write a short C/C++ program that will read the name of a file passed on the command line and determine if the file named is in ELF format and, if so, on what architecture (hardware) type the file will run. You will need to include the header file to access predefined ELF header routines, such as elf_begin (used to obtain the ELF descriptor). You must also link the ELF library (i.e., -lelf ) when you compile your program. Note that the system utility file , which identifies file types, uses the information in the file /usr/share/magic to identify files. An alternate approach to this exercise is to use the /usr/share/magic information to identify an ELF file and the architecture on which it will execute.

Programs and Processes

Processing Environment

Using Processes

Primitive Communications


Message Queues


Shared Memory

Remote Procedure Calls



Appendix A. Using Linux Manual Pages

Appendix B. UNIX Error Messages

Appendix C. RPC Syntax Diagrams

Appendix D. Profiling Programs

Interprocess Communication in Linux
Interprocess Communications in Linux: The Nooks and Crannies
ISBN: 0130460427
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2001
Pages: 136

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