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Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2015 12:12:18 -0500
From: Rich Felker <>
To: Paul Pluzhnikov <>
Subject: Re: Fixing the glibc runtime linker

On Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 09:04:48AM -0800, Paul Pluzhnikov wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 8:50 AM, Rich Felker <> wrote:
> > On Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 12:14:47AM -0800, Paul Pluzhnikov wrote:
> >> If VAR is unset, or set to relative path, resulting binary will be "bad".
> >
> > If the rpath is needed for the binary to work, this should result in
> > immediate failure when you try to run it, which would be detected and
> > corrected before it becomes an issue.
> Right. Except the picture may be slightly more complicated, e.g. the binary
> has optional dependencies on and, and the build uses
>   ${CC} -Wl,-rpath=${LIBFOO_INSTALL}:${LIBBAR_INSTALL} ...
> and one or both of _INSTALL paths may be empty in a given build.
> The bad RPATH may also not be immediately discovered because e.g. the
> developer has LD_LIBRARY_PATH set (which is common because developers often
> use debug version of the library installed separately from release one).
> All of this is to say that that is a relatively easy mistake to make.
> I fully agree with you that a competent vendor will not make this mistake,
> but there appears to be sufficient evidence that incompetent vendors
> exist :-)

Thanks for clarifying the scenarion you have in mind. That makes a lot
more sense.

> > If it's not needed for the binary to work, this is a huge incompetence
> > or policy failure issue that's not going to be fixed by restricting
> > RPATH. And it would probably be better solved by having ld produce
> > warnings for relative or blank RPATH (or even refusing to generate
> > such without an additional override option) rather than by potentially
> > breaking existing binaries.
> Interesting notion. I am not sure how open binutils developers will be to it:
> after all you explicitly asked for empty RPATH with command line argument.
> Should GCC also refuse to compile 'execve(argv[1]);' unless a
> -fyes-i-know-what-i-am-doing flag is given?

That's probably too specific to spend effort diagnosing, but GCC
already has functionality to warn about deprecated/dangerous functions
like gets and even to poison the identifiers (if you want) so that any
reference to them is an error. So I don't think it's too much of a
stretch to say that it would be nice for the linker to have options to
diagnose dangerous erroneous usage.

Of course there are other situations where I would be on the other
side of this argument saying it's annoying and unnecessary to
competent developers, so I can't say for sure that it's the right
thing, but it seems like an idea worth exploring. Especially in case
developers might be using new binutils/gcc but producing binaryware
that's going to work with older versions of glibc/


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