About the Book
This tutorial introduces libelf, a library for reading and writing object code in the Extensible Linking Format (ELF) file format.
The tutorial covers:
- Getting started with libelf: obtaining a handle to an ELF object, establishing a working ELF version, and handling errors reported by libelf.
- How ELF data structures are laid out in-memory and on disk, the notions of "file representation" and "memory representation", how to write applications that can handle non-native binaries.
- ELF Segments and the ELF Program Header Table, retrieving the program header table from an ELF executable and the meaning of the fields of a program header table entry.
- How data is stored inside ELF sections, the ELF Section Header Table, and how to traverse the sections in an ELF object.
- How to create new ELF objects: the rules for ordering individual API calls, the default object layout implemented by libelf, and how to specify custom layouts.
- ar archives: their structure, and how to read the contents of these archives using the APIs provided by libelf.
The example programs in this tutorial are written in the C programming language.
While written for the libelf implementation that is part of the Elftoolchain open-source project, this tutorial is expected to be compatible with other libelf implementations, such as that offered by the GNU project.
This tutorial is part of the Leanpub for Causes program; the royalties from its purchases go to an organisation that is developing a liberally licensed open source operating system. The 'source' for this tutorial is itself published under a liberal license; please see the Elftoolchain project's site.
If you would like to see any other ELF related topics covered in a future version of the tutorial, or if you have suggestions for improving it, then please do post at the Leanpub forum for the book.
About the Author
I am a software developer. I'm also a computer scientist.
I have spent much of my professional life working on kernels, systems software, performance analysis and tackling problems of scale.
I’m happiest when writing open-source code. In my free time I work on the Elftoolchain project.
I hope you find my work useful!