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Re: Recent removal of a.out and COFF support for sparc

From: Jose E. Marchesi
Subject: Re: Recent removal of a.out and COFF support for sparc
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2018 11:57:39 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.1 (gnu/linux)

    > "git log bfd/aoutx.h" if you want an illustration of points I make in
    > my other reply on this thread.
     Exactly why I pointed out the need to have an offer to maintain the code 
    as a condition.
As a SPARC binutils maintainer, I supported obsoleting sparc/coff and
sparc/aout targets back in 2016.  The rationale after my support was
that Solaris, GNU/Linux, and the other OSes running on the little sparcs
(VxWorks, RTEMS, etc) are all ELF targets.  It is reasonable to expect
that any remaining aout-based systems still in operation will be using
an old version of binutils, if they use GNU binutils at all.

So the SPARC bootloaders operate on a.out images... as Alan and others
already pointed out, there are several possibilities:

a) To use an older binutils version to link the image with the

b) To link to ELF and then use elftoaout [1] or a similar tool.

AFAIK Fedora successfully used elftoaout to generate the stage1 images
until they deprecated the SPARC support back in 2012.  Debian
distributes elftoaout as part of the sparc-utils package [2].

There is of course a third option: to put back the sparc/aout support in
binutils, and maintain it... well.. in principle I stand with my 2016
rationale and I won't be working on sparc/aout on my own time.  So
unless my employer decides to sponsor the sparc/aout support in binutils
(I already made some inquiries) I won't be maintaining that code.


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