Re: Linker ... still useful ? (Douglas W. Jones,3193350740,3193382879)
Thu, 22 Sep 1994 15:13:33 GMT

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Douglas W. Jones,3193350740,3193382879)
Keywords: linker, assembler
Organization: University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
References: 94-09-122
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 1994 15:13:33 GMT

> I don't want to question the usefulness of linkers as tools, since of
> course they are quite used, and then probably useful.
> No, what I want to question in fact is linking as a process different from
> compilation, as a real step in the process of building executables.

As I pointed out in

    Assembly Language as Object Code,
    Software - Practice and Experience, 13, 8 (1983) 715-725.

Assemblers and linkers can do exactly the same thing. I did this by
taking a fairly ordinary assembler with conditional and text inclusion
facilities and showing how it could be used as a linker. Fraser and
Hanson showed much the same thing when they developed a linker that
used a textual object language and then showed how it could be used
as an assembler, in:

    A Machine Independant Linker,
    Software - Practice and Experience, 13, 4, (1982) 351-366.

In both of these papers, the linkers being addressed support the normal
FORTRAN/C linkage conventions.

I recommend both papers to anyone interested in how to write such linkers,
and I give away the SMAL assembler and manual, on which I based my paper
cited above, to anyone who wants it. Here's the URL (in this case, an FTP

The software should be quite useful for instructional purposes, and if you
happen to be developing a new computer architecture, it's a good starting
point for hacking up an assembler and linker for the new machine.

Doug Jones

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