From: tdun...@vtaix.cc.vt.edu (Thomas Dunbar)
Subject: what COFF binaries does linux support?
Date: 23 Dec 1993 20:26:05 GMT
Organization: Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
the .99.14g kernel proports to have COFF binary support. who's
actually run what coff binaries on it?
From: longy...@citrus.SAC.CA.US ( Alfred Longyear )
Subject: Re: what COFF binaries does linux support?
Date: 24 Dec 93 04:46:45 GMT
Organization: Citrus Grove Public Access (916) 381-5822 Sacramento CA. USA
tdun...@vtaix.cc.vt.edu (Thomas Dunbar) writes:
>the .99.14g kernel proports to have COFF binary support. who's
>actually run what coff binaries on it?
[By the way, this is an article for the c.o.l.development channel. Folloups
I knew that this was going to be a question when I gave the COFF loader
to Linus for the impending kernel release. I weighed the decision carefully
and decided that it was time to stop patching the kernel for COFF and put
it into the standard release.
The COFF loader is responsible for loading programs.
HOWEVER --- and this is a very big BUT
The iBCS emulator is responsible for the execution of IBCS programs which are
loaded by either the COFF or ELF loader.
Ok, here is the low down of the information.
1. The ELF loader is and has been in the kernel for some time. (ever since
pl12, I believe. I had a pre-pl12 version, but it was a set of patches.)
2. The COFF loader should go out at the pl15 (well, actually in pl14g, but
who's counting :-))
3. The IBCS emulator is still a stub in that kernel. A large patch was put
into the kernel for the iBCS stuff, however, there are still more patches
which must go into the kernel to support iBCS.
4. Shared libraries for iBCS. They are still pending release.
To answer your question --
The following packages have been, or will be shortly, tested
a. perl (tested. works for all but network functions)
b. Lotus 123 (tested. works.)
c. WordPerfect (unconfirmed. Preliminary indications are that it will work.)
Those are the limits to the tested pieces of software. It is not that this
is the limit of all packages available. It is only that those are the
packages used by the people who have the development software.
I can say that programs which use X windows do not work. It is not that
they never will. They will work once we have a version of the libx11
shared library running on Linux.
The same can be said about network based programs (those which use the
sockets library). This requires a shared library for network services.
Do you wish the development software? It is available free for the asking.
All that you must do is to join the development channel and ask for it.
If you ask there then I'll be happy to tell anyone where it is, and provide
a modicum amount of hand-holding to install it in the LATEST kernel (If you
have love affair with 0.99.pl10 then don't bother to ask.)
To join the development channel, send email to
The channel name is IBSC2
(Don't ask me why it is misspelled. I didn't create it.)
Basically, what I wanted to do was to seperate the COFF requirements from
the IBCS requirements. COFF is like ELF; an object file format. Now the
group can concentrate on the functions required for IBCS. The COFF loader
is available for all who may need to change the functions needed for loading
executables. It should remove some of the conflicts and make things easier
in the future. Atleast, that is my reasoning and why I asked that the COFF
loader be included into the released kernel.