#elf #binary #object #compiler

bin+lib elfbin

Build ELF object files defining symbols with fixed binary data

3 releases (breaking)

0.3.0 Feb 21, 2022
0.2.0 Jul 6, 2021
0.1.0 Jul 6, 2021

#514 in Encoding

MIT license



elfbin is a command line tool and Rust library for constructing ELF object files that contain symbols which refer to the contents of arbitrary files you provide. You can then link the resulting file into your program written in some other language that can produce ELF object files, such as C.

This can be useful for embedded systems and other similar situations where there's no filesystem available to load data from and so any required data must be linked directly into the program.


elfbin expects arguments of the form symbolname=filename to specify which symbols to define in the object file and which files to read their contents from.

For example:

elfbin -o data.o image=foo.png music=foo.mid

elfbin also has options to specify what kind of ELF file to create. You'll generally need to match these settings with what the linker for your target platform expects:

    --class <class>          ELF Class [default: ELF64]
    --encoding <encoding>    ELF Encoding [default: LSB]
    --flags <flags>          Machine-specific ELF flags [default: 0x00000000]
    --machine <machine>      Target machine [default: none]
    -o <out>                 Output filename

For example, to generate a file suitable for linking into a program for an ARM-Cortex-M0 (ARMv6-M) microcontroller:

elfbin -o data.o --class=ELF32 --encoding=LSB --machine=arm --flags=0x05000000

You can then include the data.o file in your linker invocation, along with all of the .o files that resulted from compiling your source code.

Writing Header Files

elfbin has no built-in support for generating C header files to allow you to access your object data from elsewhere in your program.

You can do so manually by selecting a suitable data type to represent the data you've linked and declaring an extern const variable of that type. If you have no special data type to use -- for example, if your data is in a file format that you'll need to parse before you can use it -- then an array of type uint8_t from stdint.h could be a reasonable choice:

#include <stdint.h>

extern uint8_t image[];
extern uint8_t music[];

Alternatively, if you make sure that your input data is of a suitable shape for the struct layout used by your compiler then you could declare the data as having a struct type.

Note that the symbol names you declare when running elfbin refer directly to the data itself, not to a pointer to the data. Therefore you typically shouldn't declare your symbol as having a pointer type in your header file, unless you've intentionally created a file containing memory addresses.


~43K SLoC