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1. Preliminaries

1.1 ELF vs. a.out

Linux development is in a state of flux right now. Briefly, there are two formats for the binaries that Linux knows how to execute, and depending on how your system is put together, you may have either. When reading this HOWTO, it helps to know which.

How to tell? Use the `file' utility (eg file /bin/bash). For an ELF program it will say something with ELF in, for an a.out program it will say something involving Linux/i386.

The differences between ELF and a.out are covered (extensively) later in this document. ELF is the newer format, and generally accepted as better.

1.2 Administrata

The copyright information and like legalese can be found at the end of this document, together with the statutory warnings about asking dumb questions on Usenet, revealing your ignorance of the C language by reporting bugs which aren't, and picking your nose while chewing gum.

1.3 Typography

If you're reading this in Postscipt, dvi, or html format, you get to see a little more font variation than people with the plain text version. In particular, filenames, commands, command output and source code excerpts are set in some form of typewriter font, whereas `variables' and random things that need emphasizing are empasized.

You also get a usable index. In dvi or postscript, the numbers in the index are section numbers. In HTML they're just sequentially assigned numbers that you can click on. In the plain text version, they really are just numbers. Get an upgrade!

The Bourne (rather than C) shell syntax is used in examples. C shell users will want to use

% setenv FOO bar
where I have written
$ FOO=bar; export FOO

If the prompt shown is # rather than $, the command shown will probably only work as root. Of course, I accept no responsibility for anything that happens to your system as a result of trying these examples. Have a nice day :-)

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