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ELF(5) File Formats Manual ELF(5)

NAME

elfformat of ELF executable binary files

SYNOPSIS

#include <elf.h>

DESCRIPTION

The header file <elf.h> defines the format of ELF executable binary files. Amongst these files are normal executable files, relocatable object files, core files and shared libraries.
An executable file using the ELF file format consists of an ELF header, followed by a program header table or a section header table, or both. The ELF header is always at offset zero of the file. The program header table and the section header table's offset in the file are defined in the ELF header. The two tables describe the rest of the particularities of the file.
Applications which wish to process ELF binary files for their native architecture only should include <elf.h> in their source code. These applications should need to refer to all the types and structures by their generic names “Elf_xxx” and to the macros by “ELF_xxx”. Applications written this way can be compiled on any architecture, regardless of whether the host is 32-bit or 64-bit.
Should an application need to process ELF files of an unknown architecture, then the application needs to explicitly use either “Elf32_xxx” or “Elf64_xxx” type and structure names. Likewise, the macros need to be identified by “ELF32_xxx” or “ELF64_xxx”.
This header file describes the above mentioned headers as C structures and also includes structures for dynamic sections, relocation sections and symbol tables.
The following types are used for 32-bit architectures:
Elf32_Addr	Unsigned program address 
Elf32_Off	Unsigned file offset 
Elf32_Sword	Signed large integer 
Elf32_Word	Unsigned large integer 
Elf32_Half	Unsigned medium integer
And the following types are used for 64-bit architectures:
Elf64_Addr	Unsigned program address 
Elf64_Off	Unsigned file offset 
Elf64_Shalf	Signed halfword field 
Elf64_Sword	Signed large integer 
Elf64_Word	Field or unsigned large integer 
Elf64_Sxword	Signed object size or alignment 
Elf64_Xword	Unsigned object size or alignment 
Elf64_Half	Unsigned halfword field 
Elf64_Quarter	Unsigned quarterword field
All data structures that the file format defines follow the “natural” size and alignment guidelines for the relevant class. If necessary, data structures contain explicit padding to ensure 4-byte alignment for 4-byte objects, to force structure sizes to a multiple of 4, etc.
The ELF header is described by the type Elf32_Ehdr or Elf64_Ehdr:
typedef struct { 
        unsigned char   e_ident[EI_NIDENT]; 
        Elf32_Half      e_type; 
        Elf32_Half      e_machine; 
        Elf32_Word      e_version; 
        Elf32_Addr      e_entry; 
        Elf32_Off       e_phoff; 
        Elf32_Off       e_shoff; 
        Elf32_Word      e_flags; 
        Elf32_Half      e_ehsize; 
        Elf32_Half      e_phentsize; 
        Elf32_Half      e_phnum; 
        Elf32_Half      e_shentsize; 
        Elf32_Half      e_shnum; 
        Elf32_Half      e_shstrndx; 
} Elf32_Ehdr;
typedef struct { 
	unsigned char   e_ident[EI_NIDENT]; 
	Elf64_Quarter   e_type; 
	Elf64_Quarter   e_machine; 
	Elf64_Half      e_version; 
	Elf64_Addr      e_entry; 
	Elf64_Off       e_phoff; 
	Elf64_Off       e_shoff; 
	Elf64_Half      e_flags; 
	Elf64_Quarter   e_ehsize; 
	Elf64_Quarter   e_phentsize; 
	Elf64_Quarter   e_phnum; 
	Elf64_Quarter   e_shentsize; 
	Elf64_Quarter   e_shnum; 
	Elf64_Quarter   e_shstrndx; 
} Elf64_Ehdr;
The fields have the following meanings:
 
 
e_ident
This array of bytes specifies how to interpret the file, independent of the processor or the file's remaining contents. Within this array everything is named by macros, which start with the prefix EI_ and may contain values which start with the prefix ELF. The following macros are defined:
 
 
EI_MAG0
The first byte of the magic number. It must be filled with ELFMAG0.
 
 
EI_MAG1
The second byte of the magic number. It must be filled with ELFMAG1.
 
 
EI_MAG2
The third byte of the magic number. It must be filled with ELFMAG2.
 
 
EI_MAG3
The fourth byte of the magic number. It must be filled with ELFMAG3.
 
 
EI_CLASS
The fifth byte identifies the architecture for this binary:
ELFCLASSNONE
This class is invalid.
ELFCLASS32
This defines the 32-bit architecture. It supports machines with files and virtual address spaces up to 4 Gigabytes.
ELFCLASS64
This defines the 64-bit architecture.
 
 
EI_DATA
The sixth byte specifies the data encoding of the processor-specific data in the file. Currently these encodings are supported:
ELFDATANONE
Unknown data format.
ELFDATA2LSB
Two's complement, little-endian.
ELFDATA2MSB
Two's complement, big-endian.
 
 
EI_VERSION
The version number of the ELF specification:
EV_NONE
Invalid version.
EV_CURRENT
Current version.
 
 
EI_PAD
Start of padding. These bytes are reserved and set to zero. Programs which read them should ignore them. The value for EI_PAD will change in the future if currently unused bytes are given meanings.
 
 
EI_BRAND
Start of architecture identification.
 
 
EI_NIDENT
The size of the e_ident array.
 
 
e_type
This member of the structure identifies the object file type:
ET_NONE
An unknown type.
ET_REL
A relocatable file.
ET_EXEC
An executable file.
ET_DYN
A shared object.
ET_CORE
A core file.
 
 
e_machine
This member specifies the required architecture for an individual file:
EM_NONE
An unknown machine.
EM_M32
AT&T WE 32100.
EM_SPARC
Sun Microsystems SPARC.
EM_386
Intel 80386.
EM_68K
Motorola 68000.
EM_88K
Motorola 88000.
EM_486
Intel 80486.
EM_860
Intel 80860.
EM_MIPS
MIPS RS3000 (big-endian only).
EM_MIPS_RS4_BE
MIPS RS4000 (big-endian only).
EM_SPARC64
SPARC v9 64-bit (unofficial).
EM_PARISC
HPPA.
EM_SPARC32PLUS
SPARC with enhanced instruction set.
EM_PPC
PowerPC.
EM_ARM
Advanced RISC Machines ARM.
EM_ALPHA
Compaq [DEC] Alpha.
EM_SH
Hitachi/Renesas Super-H.
EM_SPARCV9
SPARC v9 64-bit.
EM_IA_64
Intel IA-64.
EM_AMD64
AMD64.
EM_VAX
DEC Vax.
EM_ALPHA_EXP
Compaq [DEC] Alpha with enhanced instruction set.
 
 
e_version
This member identifies the file version:
EV_NONE
Invalid version.
EV_CURRENT
Current version.
 
 
e_entry
This member gives the virtual address to which the system first transfers control, thus starting the process. If the file has no associated entry point, this member holds zero.
 
 
e_phoff
This member holds the program header table's file offset in bytes. If the file has no program header table, this member holds zero.
 
 
e_shoff
This member holds the section header table's file offset in bytes. If the file has no section header table this member holds zero.
 
 
e_flags
This member holds processor-specific flags associated with the file. Flag names take the form EF_`machine_flag'. Currently no flags have been defined.
 
 
e_ehsize
This member holds the ELF header's size in bytes.
 
 
e_phentsize
This member holds the size in bytes of one entry in the file's program header table; all entries are the same size.
 
 
e_phnum
This member holds the number of entries in the program header table. Thus the product of e_phentsize and e_phnum gives the table's size in bytes. If a file has no program header, e_phnum holds the value zero.
 
 
e_shentsize
This member holds a sections header's size in bytes. A section header is one entry in the section header table; all entries are the same size.
 
 
e_shnum
This member holds the number of entries in the section header table. Thus the product of e_shentsize and e_shnum gives the section header table's size in bytes. If a file has no section header table, e_shnum holds the value of zero.
 
 
e_shstrndx
This member holds the section header table index of the entry associated with the section name string table. If the file has no section name string table, this member holds the value SHN_UNDEF.
An executable or shared object file's program header table is an array of structures, each describing a segment or other information the system needs to prepare the program for execution. An object file segment contains one or more sections. Program headers are meaningful only for executable and shared object files. A file specifies its own program header size with the ELF header's e_phentsize and e_phnum members. As with the ELF executable header, the program header also has different versions depending on the architecture:
typedef struct { 
        Elf32_Word      p_type; 
        Elf32_Off       p_offset; 
        Elf32_Addr      p_vaddr; 
        Elf32_Addr      p_paddr; 
        Elf32_Word      p_filesz; 
        Elf32_Word      p_memsz; 
        Elf32_Word      p_flags; 
        Elf32_Word      p_align; 
} Elf32_Phdr;
typedef struct { 
        Elf64_Half      p_type; 
        Elf64_Half      p_flags; 
        Elf64_Off       p_offset; 
        Elf64_Addr      p_vaddr; 
        Elf64_Addr      p_paddr; 
        Elf64_Xword     p_filesz; 
        Elf64_Xword     p_memsz; 
        Elf64_Xword     p_align; 
} Elf64_Phdr;
The main difference between the 32-bit and the 64-bit program header lies only in the location of a p_flags member in the total struct.
 
 
p_type
This member of the Phdr struct tells what kind of segment this array element describes or how to interpret the array element's information.
 
 
PT_NULL
The array element is unused and the other members' values are undefined. This lets the program header have ignored entries.
 
 
PT_LOAD
The array element specifies a loadable segment, described by p_filesz and p_memsz. The bytes from the file are mapped to the beginning of the memory segment. If the segment's memory size (p_memsz) is larger than the file size (p_filesz), the “extra” bytes are defined to hold the value 0 and to follow the segment's initialized area. The file size may not be larger than the memory size. Loadable segment entries in the program header table appear in ascending order, sorted on the p_vaddr member.
 
 
PT_DYNAMIC
The array element specifies the location and size of the dynamic section, both in the file and in the memory image of the program. This segment type may not occur more than once in a file and may only occur if the dynamic section is part of the memory image of the program.
 
 
PT_INTERP
The array element specifies the location and size of a null-terminated path name to invoke as an interpreter. This segment type is meaningful only for executable files (though it may occur for shared objects). However it may not occur more than once in a file. If it is present, it must precede any loadable segment entry.
 
 
PT_NOTE
The array element specifies the location and size for auxiliary information.
 
 
PT_SHLIB
This segment type is reserved but has unspecified semantics. Programs that contain an array element of this type do not conform to the ABI.
 
 
PT_PHDR
The array element specifies the location and size of the program header table itself, both in the file and in the memory image of the program. This segment type may not occur more than once in a file and may only occur if the program header table is part of the memory image of the program. If it is present, it must precede any loadable segment entry.
 
 
PT_TLS
The array element specifies the location and size of the thread-local storage for this file. Each thread in a process loading this file will have the segment's memory size (p_memsz) allocated for it, where the bytes up to the segment's file size (p_filesz) will be initialized with the data in this segment and the remaining “extra” bytes will be set to zero. This segment type may not occur more than once in a file and may only occur if the thread-local storage is part of the memory image of the program.
 
 
PT_GNU_EH_FRAME
The array element specifies the location and size of the GNU exception frame header, both in the file and in the memory image of the program. This segment type may not occur more than once in a file and may only occur if the GNU exception frame header is part of the memory image of the program.
 
 
PT_GNU_RELRO
The array element specifies the location and size of a part of the memory image of the program that should be made read-only once all immediate relocation processing for the file has been performed. This segment type may not occur more than once in a file.
 
 
PT_OPENBSD_RANDOMIZE
The array element specifies the location and size of a part of the memory image of the program that must be filled with random data before any code in the object is executed. The memory region specified by a segment of this type may overlap the region specified by a PT_GNU_RELRO segment, in which case the intersection will be filled with random data before being marked read-only. This segment type may occur more than once in a file, but a limit on the total number of bytes in the segments for an object of no less than 65536 bytes may be imposed.
 
 
PT_OPENBSD_WXNEEDED
The array element specifies that a process executing this file may need to be able to map or protect memory regions as simultaneously executable and writable. If the system is unable or unwilling to permit that for this executable then it may fail immediately. This segment type is meaningful only for executable files and is ignored in other objects.
 
 
PT_LOOS
This value up to and including PT_HIOS is reserved for operating system-specific semantics.
 
 
PT_HIOS
This value down to and including PT_LOOS is reserved for operating system-specific semantics.
 
 
PT_LOPROC
This value up to and including PT_HIPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
PT_HIPROC
This value down to and including PT_LOPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
p_offset
This member holds the offset from the beginning of the file at which the first byte of the segment resides.
 
 
p_vaddr
This member holds the virtual address at which the first byte of the segment resides in memory.
 
 
p_paddr
On systems for which physical addressing is relevant, this member is reserved for the segment's physical address. Under BSD this member is not used and must be zero.
 
 
p_filesz
This member holds the number of bytes in the file image of the segment. It may be zero.
 
 
p_memsz
This member holds the number of bytes in the memory image of the segment. It may be zero.
 
 
p_flags
This member holds flags relevant to the segment:
PF_X
An executable segment.
PF_W
A writable segment.
PF_R
A readable segment.
A text segment commonly has the flags PF_X and PF_R. A data segment commonly has PF_X, PF_W and PF_R.
 
 
p_align
This member holds the value to which the segments are aligned in memory and in the file. Loadable process segments must have congruent values for p_vaddr and p_offset, modulo the page size. Values of zero and one mean no alignment is required. Otherwise, p_align should be a positive, integral power of two, and p_vaddr should equal p_offset, modulo p_align.
A file's section header table lets one locate all the file's sections. The section header table is an array of Elf32_Shdr or Elf64_Shdr structures. The ELF header's e_shoff member gives the byte offset from the beginning of the file to the section header table. e_shnum holds the number of entries the section header table contains. e_shentsize holds the size in bytes of each entry.
A section header table index is a subscript into this array. Some section header table indices are reserved. An object file does not have sections for these special indices:
 
 
SHN_UNDEF
This value marks an undefined, missing, irrelevant or otherwise meaningless section reference. For example, a symbol “defined” relative to section number SHN_UNDEF is an undefined symbol.
 
 
SHN_LORESERVE
This value specifies the lower bound of the range of reserved indices.
 
 
SHN_LOPROC
This value up to and including SHN_HIPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
SHN_HIPROC
This value down to and including SHN_LOPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
SHN_ABS
This value specifies the absolute value for the corresponding reference. For example, a symbol defined relative to section number SHN_ABS has an absolute value and is not affected by relocation.
 
 
SHN_COMMON
Symbols defined relative to this section are common symbols, such as FORTRAN COMMON or unallocated C external variables.
 
 
SHN_HIRESERVE
This value specifies the upper bound of the range of reserved indices. The system reserves indices between SHN_LORESERVE and SHN_HIRESERVE, inclusive. The section header table does not contain entries for the reserved indices.
The section header has the following structure:
typedef struct { 
	Elf32_Word      sh_name; 
	Elf32_Word      sh_type; 
	Elf32_Word      sh_flags; 
	Elf32_Addr      sh_addr; 
	Elf32_Off       sh_offset; 
	Elf32_Word      sh_size; 
	Elf32_Word      sh_link; 
	Elf32_Word      sh_info; 
	Elf32_Word      sh_addralign; 
	Elf32_Word      sh_entsize; 
} Elf32_Shdr;
typedef struct { 
	Elf64_Half      sh_name; 
	Elf64_Half      sh_type; 
	Elf64_Xword     sh_flags; 
	Elf64_Addr      sh_addr; 
	Elf64_Off       sh_offset; 
	Elf64_Xword     sh_size; 
	Elf64_Half      sh_link; 
	Elf64_Half      sh_info; 
	Elf64_Xword     sh_addralign; 
	Elf64_Xword     sh_entsize; 
} Elf64_Shdr;
 
 
sh_name
This member specifies the name of the section. Its value is an index into the section header string table section, giving the location of a null-terminated string.
 
 
sh_type
This member categorizes the section's contents and semantics.
 
 
SHT_NULL
This value marks the section header as inactive. It does not have an associated section. Other members of the section header have undefined values.
 
 
SHT_PROGBITS
This section holds information defined by the program, whose format and meaning are determined solely by the program.
 
 
SHT_SYMTAB
This section holds a symbol table. Typically, SHT_SYMTAB provides symbols for link editing, though it may also be used for dynamic linking. As a complete symbol table, it may contain many symbols unnecessary for dynamic linking. An object file can also contain a SHT_DYNSYM section.
 
 
SHT_STRTAB
This section holds a string table. An object file may have multiple string table sections.
 
 
SHT_RELA
This section holds relocation entries with explicit addends, such as type Elf32_Rela for the 32-bit class of object files. An object may have multiple relocation sections.
 
 
SHT_HASH
This section holds a symbol hash table. An object participating in dynamic linking must contain a symbol hash table. An object file may have only one hash table.
 
 
SHT_DYNAMIC
This section holds information for dynamic linking. An object file may have only one dynamic section.
 
 
SHT_NOTE
This section holds information that marks the file in some way.
 
 
SHT_NOBITS
A section of this type occupies no space in the file but otherwise resembles SHT_PROGBITS. Although this section contains no bytes, the sh_offset member contains the conceptual file offset.
 
 
SHT_REL
This section holds relocation offsets without explicit addends, such as type Elf32_Rel for the 32-bit class of object files. An object file may have multiple relocation sections.
 
 
SHT_SHLIB
This section is reserved but has unspecified semantics.
 
 
SHT_DYNSYM
This section holds a minimal set of dynamic linking symbols. An object file can also contain a SHT_SYMTAB section.
 
 
SHT_LOPROC
This value up to and including SHT_HIPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
SHT_HIPROC
This value down to and including SHT_LOPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
SHT_LOUSER
This value specifies the lower bound of the range of indices reserved for application programs.
 
 
SHT_HIUSER
This value specifies the upper bound of the range of indices reserved for application programs. Section types between SHT_LOUSER and SHT_HIUSER may be used by the application, without conflicting with current or future system-defined section types.
 
 
sh_flags
Sections support one-bit flags that describe miscellaneous attributes. If a flag bit is set in sh_flags, the attribute is “on” for the section. Otherwise, the attribute is “off” or does not apply. Undefined attributes are set to zero.
SHF_WRITE
This section contains data that should be writable during process execution.
SHF_ALLOC
This section occupies memory during process execution. Some control sections do not reside in the memory image of an object file. This attribute is off for those sections.
SHF_EXECINSTR
This section contains executable machine instructions.
SHF_TLS
This section is for thread-local storage.
SHF_MASKPROC
All bits included in this mask are reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
sh_addr
If this section appears in the memory image of a process, this member holds the address at which the section's first byte should reside. Otherwise, the member contains zero.
 
 
sh_offset
This member's value holds the byte offset from the beginning of the file to the first byte in the section. One section type, SHT_NOBITS, occupies no space in the file, and its sh_offset member locates the conceptual placement in the file.
 
 
sh_size
This member holds the section's size in bytes. Unless the section type is SHT_NOBITS, the section occupies sh_size bytes in the file. A section of type SHT_NOBITS may have a non-zero size, but it occupies no space in the file.
 
 
sh_link
This member holds a section header table index link, whose interpretation depends on the section type.
 
 
sh_info
This member holds extra information, whose interpretation depends on the section type.
 
 
sh_addralign
Some sections have address alignment constraints. If a section holds a doubleword, the system must ensure doubleword alignment for the entire section. That is, the value of sh_addr must be congruent to zero, modulo the value of sh_addralign. Only zero and positive integral powers of two are allowed. Values of zero or one mean the section has no alignment constraints.
 
 
sh_entsize
Some sections hold a table of fixed-sized entries, such as a symbol table. For such a section, this member gives the size in bytes for each entry. This member contains zero if the section does not hold a table of fixed-size entries.
Various sections hold program and control information:
 
 
.SUNW_ctf
This section contains the (un)compressed Compact C-Type Format data describing the object's types and symbols. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS.
 
 
.bss
This section holds uninitialized data that contribute to the program's memory image. By definition, the system initializes the data with zeros when the program begins to run. This section is of type SHT_NOBITS. The attribute types are SHF_ALLOC and SHF_WRITE.
 
 
.comment
This section holds version control information. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. No attribute types are used.
 
 
.ctors
This section holds initialized pointers to the C++ constructor functions. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attribute types are SHF_ALLOC and SHF_WRITE.
 
 
.data
This section holds initialized data that contribute to the program's memory image. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attribute types are SHF_ALLOC and SHF_WRITE.
 
 
.data1
This section holds initialized data that contribute to the program's memory image. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attribute types are SHF_ALLOC and SHF_WRITE.
 
 
.debug
This section holds information for symbolic debugging. The contents are unspecified. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. No attribute types are used.
 
 
.dtors
This section holds initialized pointers to the C++ destructor functions. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attribute types are SHF_ALLOC and SHF_WRITE.
 
 
.dynamic
This section holds dynamic linking information. The section's attributes will include the SHF_ALLOC bit. Whether the SHF_WRITE bit is set is processor-specific. This section is of type SHT_DYNAMIC. See the attributes above.
 
 
.dynstr
This section holds strings needed for dynamic linking, most commonly the strings that represent the names associated with symbol table entries. This section is of type SHT_STRTAB. The attribute type used is SHF_ALLOC.
 
 
.dynsym
This section holds the dynamic linking symbol table. This section is of type SHT_DYNSYM. The attribute used is SHF_ALLOC.
 
 
.fini
This section holds executable instructions that contribute to the process termination code. When a program exits normally the system arranges to execute the code in this section. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attributes used are SHF_ALLOC and SHF_EXECINSTR.
 
 
.got
This section holds the global offset table. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attributes are processor-specific.
 
 
.hash
This section holds a symbol hash table. This section is of type SHT_HASH. The attribute used is SHF_ALLOC.
 
 
.init
This section holds executable instructions that contribute to the process initialization code. When a program starts to run the system arranges to execute the code in this section before calling the main program entry point. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attributes used are SHF_ALLOC and SHF_EXECINSTR.
 
 
.interp
This section holds the pathname of a program interpreter. If the file has a loadable segment that includes the section, the section's attributes will include the SHF_ALLOC bit. Otherwise, that bit will be off. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS.
 
 
.line
This section holds line number information for symbolic debugging, which describes the correspondence between the program source and the machine code. The contents are unspecified. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. No attribute types are used.
 
 
.note
This section holds information in the note section format described below. This section is of type SHT_NOTE. No attribute types are used. OpenBSD native executables usually contain a .note.openbsd.ident section to identify themselves, for the kernel to bypass any compatibility ELF binary emulation tests when loading the file.
 
 
.plt
This section holds the procedure linkage table. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attributes are processor-specific.
 
 
.relNAME
This section holds relocation information as described below. If the file has a loadable segment that includes relocation, the section's attributes will include the SHF_ALLOC bit. Otherwise the bit will be off. By convention, “NAME” is supplied by the section to which the relocations apply. Thus a relocation section for .text normally would have the name .rel.text. This section is of type SHT_REL.
 
 
.relaNAME
This section holds relocation information as described below. If the file has a loadable segment that includes relocation, the section's attributes will include the SHF_ALLOC bit. Otherwise the bit will be off. By convention, “NAME” is supplied by the section to which the relocations apply. Thus a relocation section for .text normally would have the name .rela.text. This section is of type SHT_RELA.
 
 
.rodata
This section holds read-only data that typically contribute to a non-writable segment in the process image. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attribute used is SHF_ALLOC.
 
 
.rodata1
This section holds read-only data that typically contribute to a non-writable segment in the process image. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attribute used is SHF_ALLOC.
 
 
.shstrtab
This section holds section names. This section is of type SHT_STRTAB. No attribute types are used.
 
 
.strtab
This section holds strings, most commonly the strings that represent the names associated with symbol table entries. If the file has a loadable segment that includes the symbol string table, the section's attributes will include the SHF_ALLOC bit. Otherwise the bit will be off. This section is of type SHT_STRTAB.
 
 
.symtab
This section holds a symbol table. If the file has a loadable segment that includes the symbol table, the section's attributes will include the SHF_ALLOC bit. Otherwise the bit will be off. This section is of type SHT_SYMTAB.
 
 
.tbss
This section is the thread-local storage version of .bss, holding uninitialized data that contribute to the program's memory image on a per-thread basis. By definition, the system allocates and initializes the data with zeros for each thread before it first accesses it. This section is of type SHT_NOBITS. The attribute types are SHF_ALLOC, SHF_WRITE, and SHF_TLS.
 
 
.tdata
This section is the thread-local storage version of .data, holding initialized data that contribute to the program's memory image on a per-thread basis. The system allocates and initializes the data for each thread before it first accesses it. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attribute types are SHF_ALLOC, SHF_WRITE, and SHF_TLS.
 
 
.text
This section holds the “text”, or executable instructions, of a program. This section is of type SHT_PROGBITS. The attributes used are SHF_ALLOC and SHF_EXECINSTR.
String table sections hold null-terminated character sequences, commonly called strings. The object file uses these strings to represent symbol and section names. One references a string as an index into the string table section. The first byte, which is index zero, is defined to hold a null character. Similarly, a string table's last byte is defined to hold a null character, ensuring null termination for all strings.
An object file's symbol table holds information needed to locate and relocate a program's symbolic definitions and references. A symbol table index is a subscript into this array.
typedef struct { 
	Elf32_Word      st_name; 
	Elf32_Addr      st_value; 
	Elf32_Word      st_size; 
	unsigned char   st_info; 
	unsigned char   st_other; 
	Elf32_Half      st_shndx; 
} Elf32_Sym;
typedef struct { 
	Elf64_Half      st_name; 
	Elf_Byte        st_info; 
	Elf_Byte        st_other; 
	Elf64_Quarter   st_shndx; 
	Elf64_Xword     st_value; 
	Elf64_Xword     st_size; 
} Elf64_Sym;
 
 
st_name
This member holds an index into the object file's symbol string table, which holds character representations of the symbol names. If the value is non-zero, it represents a string table index that gives the symbol name. Otherwise, the symbol table has no name.
 
 
st_value
This member gives the value of the associated symbol.
 
 
st_size
Many symbols have associated sizes. This member holds zero if the symbol has no size or an unknown size.
 
 
st_info
This member specifies the symbol's type and binding attributes:
 
 
STT_NOTYPE
The symbol's type is not defined.
 
 
STT_OBJECT
The symbol is associated with a data object.
 
 
STT_FUNC
The symbol is associated with a function or other executable code.
 
 
STT_SECTION
The symbol is associated with a section. Symbol table entries of this type exist primarily for relocation and normally have STB_LOCAL bindings.
 
 
STT_FILE
By convention, the symbol's name gives the name of the source file associated with the object file. A file symbol has STB_LOCAL bindings, its section index is SHN_ABS, and it precedes the other STB_LOCAL symbols of the file, if it is present.
 
 
STT_TLS
The symbol is associated with an object in thread-local storage. The symbol's value is its offset in the TLS storage for this file.
 
 
STT_LOPROC
This value up to and including STT_HIPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
STT_HIPROC
This value down to and including STT_LOPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
STB_LOCAL
Local symbols are not visible outside the object file containing their definition. Local symbols of the same name may exist in multiple files without interfering with each other.
 
 
STB_GLOBAL
Global symbols are visible to all object files being combined. One file's definition of a global symbol will satisfy another file's undefined reference to the same symbol.
 
 
STB_WEAK
Weak symbols resemble global symbols, but their definitions have lower precedence.
 
 
STB_LOPROC
This value up to and including STB_HIPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
 
 
STB_HIPROC
This value down to and including STB_LOPROC is reserved for processor-specific semantics.
There are macros for packing and unpacking the binding and type fields:
ELF32_ST_BIND(info)
or ELF64_ST_BIND(info) extract a binding from an st_info value.
ELF64_ST_TYPE(info)
or ELF32_ST_TYPE(info) extract a type from an st_info value.
ELF32_ST_INFO(bind, type)
or ELF64_ST_INFO(bind, type) convert a binding and a type into an st_info value.
 
 
st_other
This member currently holds zero and has no defined meaning.
 
 
st_shndx
Every symbol table entry is “defined” in relation to some section. This member holds the relevant section header table index.
Relocation is the process of connecting symbolic references with symbolic definitions. Relocatable files must have information that describes how to modify their section contents, thus allowing executable and shared object files to hold the right information for a process' program image. Relocation entries are these data.
Relocation structures that do not need an addend:
typedef struct { 
	Elf32_Addr      r_offset; 
	Elf32_Word      r_info; 
} Elf32_Rel;
typedef struct { 
	Elf64_Xword     r_offset; 
	Elf64_Xword     r_info; 
} Elf64_Rel;
Relocation structures that need an addend:
typedef struct { 
	Elf32_Addr      r_offset; 
	Elf32_Word      r_info; 
	Elf32_Sword     r_addend; 
} Elf32_Rela;
typedef struct { 
	Elf64_Xword     r_offset; 
	Elf64_Xword     r_info; 
	Elf64_Sxword    r_addend; 
} Elf64_Rela;
 
 
r_offset
This member gives the location at which to apply the relocation action. For a relocatable file, the value is the byte offset from the beginning of the section to the storage unit affected by the relocation. For an executable file or shared object, the value is the virtual address of the storage unit affected by the relocation.
 
 
r_info
This member gives both the symbol table index with respect to which the relocation must be made and the type of relocation to apply. Relocation types are processor-specific. When the text refers to a relocation entry's relocation type or symbol table index, it means the result of applying ELF[32|64]_R_TYPE or ELF[32|64]_R_SYM, respectively, to the entry's r_info member.
 
 
r_addend
This member specifies a constant addend used to compute the value to be stored into the relocatable field.
The note section is used to hold vendor-specific information that may be used to help identify a binary's ABI. It should start with an Elf_Note struct, followed by the section name and the section description. The actual note contents follow thereafter.
typedef struct { 
Elf32_Word namesz; 
Elf32_Word descsz; 
Elf32_Word type; 
} Elf32_Note; 
 
typedef struct { 
Elf64_Half namesz; 
Elf64_Half descsz; 
Elf64_Half type; 
} Elf64_Note;
 
 
namesz
Length of the note name, rounded up to a 4-byte boundary.
 
 
descsz
Length of the note description, rounded up to a 4-byte boundary.
 
 
type
A vendor-specific note type.
The name and description strings follow the note structure. Each string is aligned on a 4-byte boundary.

SEE ALSO

as(1), gdb(1), ld(1), objdump(1), execve(2), core(5)
Hewlett-Packard, Elf-64 Object File Format.
Santa Cruz Operation, System V Application Binary Interface.
Unix System Laboratories, Object Files, Executable and Linking Format (ELF).

HISTORY

OpenBSD ELF support first appeared in OpenBSD 1.2. Starting with OpenBSD 5.4, all supported platforms use it as the native binary file format. ELF in itself first appeared in AT&T System V UNIX. The ELF format is an adopted standard.

AUTHORS

This manual page was written by Jeroen Ruigrok van der Werven <asmodai@FreeBSD.org> with inspiration from BSDi's BSD/OS elf manpage.
October 27, 2017 OpenBSD-current