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The open, patent-free, extensible Executable and Linkable Format (ELF) first appeared in UNIX System V around 1997; in that same year, the 86open project was convocated (that original document seems to have been lost, but I have archived it).

The DWARF specification for debugging data was developed alongside and in reference to ELF, but is independent of object file formats (subject to certain minimal requirements).

The STT_IFUNC ELF type allows for dynlink time selection among architecture-optimized versions of a library, especially useful for SSE and MMX.


  • coreboot (formerly LinuxBIOS) can boot ELF images directly -- see mkelfimage

See also