Quit Bugging Me: Making Maps

By Mike Deliman

deliman_lg.jpgA tool commonly used in embedded debugging is a linker map – a map of where all the symbols are in the runtime image.  These maps are useful as they turn raw addresses reported by some exception stubs (etc) into offsets into the data or text (program routines) in the computer's RAM.  They give you an idea of what may have been happening when the error occurred.

Producing a linker map is fairly easy.  Most linkers include command line options to produce a map.  This works fine and is very clear when used from a command line.  But things can get a little confusing from within an integrated gui environment.

The Workbench environment makes it very easy to create and use projects, and glue them together.  A problem that can occur, is since you build all projects by selecting "build project", you may not be sure of what tools are being used by the builder "under the hood".

A recent question we had was "How do I produce a linker map?  I provided the following flags to get the linker to make a map:  -Xlinker -map mapfile.  Instead of getting my map file, I got an error."  The error the customer was getting was "ldppc: cannot find -linker".

Thinking about the problem a bit I came to the realization that the customer was calling ldppc with the flags that tell ccppc "hand these options to the linker".  The problem is that the linker, ldppc, called with these flags directly, decided they meant something else.  The real problem is a misunderstanding that the project being modified uses the linker directly, instead of the compiler front-end.  I decided it would help to demonstrate.

To the compiler, "-Xlinker blah blah" tells the compiler "call the linker with the flags blah blah".

-Xlinker  means something completely different to the linker.  -X tells the linker "discard symbols".  -l<something> tells the linker "link in the library named <something>".  The kind of funny thing is that using -Xlinker, the linker was looking for a library named "inker", libinker.a .  Since the directive failed, the linker sort-of seemed to be complaining that it couldn't find itself!  Here's a demonstration of it: note that to complete the demonstration I needed to add a directive "look here for libraries" (-L.)

For the demonstration, I launched the Developer's Environment:

Q:\WIND\VX67WB31>ldppc –help | grep -i map

  -M, –print-map             Print map file on standard output

  -Map FILE                   Write a map file
Q:\WIND\VX67WB31>ldppc –help | grep X


  -X, –discard-locals        Discard temporary local symbols (default)

Q:\WIND\VX67WB31>touch libinker.a

Q:\WIND\VX67WB31>ldppc -L. -Xlinker

ldppc: warning: cannot find entry symbol _start; not setting start address

Q:\WIND\VX67WB31>rm libinker.a

Q:\WIND\VX67WB31>ldppc -L. -Xlinker

ldppc: cannot find -linker

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