Quite some weeks ago, Markos stated asking for a more thorough testing of ebuilds to check whether they support LDFLAGS; he then described why that is important which can be summarised in “if LDFLAGS are ignored, setting
--as-needed by default is pointless”. He’s right on this of course, but there are a few more tricks to consider.
You might remember that I described an alternative approach to
--as-needed that I call “forced
--as-needed”, by editing the GCC specifications. The idea is that by forcing the flag in through this method, packages ignoring LDFLAGS and packages using unpatched libtool won’t simply ignore it. This was one of the things I had in mind when I suggested that approach, but alas, as it happens, I wasn’t listened to.
Right now there are 768 bugs reported blocking the tracker of which 404 are open and, in the total, 635 were reported by me (mostly through the tinderbox but not limited to). And I’m still opening bugs on a daily basis for those.
But let’s say that these are all the problems there are, and that in two weeks time no package is reporting ignored LDFLAGS at all. Will that mean that all packages will properly build with
--as-needed at that point? Not really.
Unfortunately, LDFLAGS-ignored warnings have both false positives (prebuild binary packages, packages linking with non-GNU linkers) and false partially-negatives. To understand that you have to understand how the current warning works. A few
binutils versions ago, a new option was introduced, called
--hash-style; this option is used to change the way the symbol table is hashed for faster loading by the runtime linker/loader (
ld.so); the classic hashing algorithm (SysV) is not excessively good for very long, similar symbols that are way too common when using C++, so there has been some work to replace that with a better GNU-specific algorithm. I’ve followed most of the related development closely at the time, since Michael Meeks (of OpenOffice.org fame) actually came asking Gentoo for some help testing things out; it was that work that actually got me interested in linkers and the ELF format.
At any rate, while the original hash table was created in the
.hash section, the new hash table, being incompatible, is in
.gnu.hash. The original patch only replaced one with the other, but what actually landed in binutils was slightly different (it allows to choose between SysV, GNU, or both hash tables), and the default has been to enable both hash tables, so that older systems can load
.hash and the new ones can load
.gnu.hash; win win. On the other hand, on Gentoo (and many other distributions) where excessively old GLIBC versions are not supported at all, there is enough of a reason to use
--hash-style=gnu to disable the generation of the SysV table entirely.
Now, the Portage warning is derived by this situation: if you add
-Wl,--hash-style=gnu to your LDFLAGS, it will be checking the generated ELF files and warn if it finds the SysV
.hash section. Unfortunately this does not work for non-Linux profiles (as far as I know, FreeBSD does not support the GNU hashing style yet; uClibc does), and will obviously report all the prebuilt binaries coming from proprietary packages. In those cases, you don’t want to strip
.hash because it might be the only hash table preventing
ld.so from doing a linear search.
So, what is the problem with this test? Well, let’s note one big difference between
--hash-style flags: the former is positional, the second is not. That means that
--as-needed, to work as intended, needs to be added before the actual libraries are listed, while
--hash-style can come at any point in the command line. Unfortunately this means that if any package has a linking line such as
$(CC) $(LIBS) $(OBJECTS) $(LDFLAGS)
It won’t be hitting the LDFLAGS warning from Portage, but (basic)
--as-needed would fail — OTOH, my forced
--as-needed method would work just fine. So there is definitely enough work to do here for the next… years?