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Binary Portability in Linux

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Linux

An interesting topic for a change: is Linux binary portable? That is, can we take a binary file and be sure it’ll run in any other Linux system? What happens if we broaden that to any POSIX system, will it blend? Eh, I mean, will it run?

Doing some research on the subject I wrote down a list of the thought process which led my to an (inconclusive) answer:

1. First we should define what a binary is for us: When we talk about a binary we are usually thinking about a compiled binary file, not an interpreted script file like Ruby or Python. Those are for people who like things to actually work, so let’s focus on a compiled executable file, like a C/C++ application.

2. Defining compiled file: What could it be other than a sequence of bytes the microprocessor can understand? Yes, that’s right, it’s sort of interpreted code, only there’s electronics behind, not more code. This brings us to the first interesting conclusion: the executable must be (leaving emulators aside) compatible with the architecture you’re on. Running Sparc? Well then, the binary better be compiled for Sparc because otherwise to the uP will not make any sense.

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