Linkers and Loaders by John R. Levine
Created: Sat Mar 20 16:11:21 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 16:11:21 2010
Linkers and Loaders is a book that would be of interest to students looking for an introductory course in the mysterious and complex world world of executable file formats and the different methods of linking and program execution.
This book has loads of explanations detailing the different methods used to store data, load programs into memory and execute them. Unfortunately, the biggest problem is that it stops where it gets really interesting - namely, *how* all this works in the real world. It is really a very theoritical book and would not be of much practical use to programmers who need real code to study and understand.
Most of the book covers the different aspects of object formats and how compilers and linkers work out strategies to allocate and use computer memory. There are several interesting problems that are discussed across this very readable book, but people who're not really familiar with the subject will find it exceedingly abstract and philosophical. The few examples are given mostly as afterthoughts and as exercises for the reader - something that doesn't enhance this book as the author takes no pains to explain with concrete code samples or illustrations. The author also seems to try and cover most aspects of the subject without focussing on anything specific and that proves to be the biggest problem for the reader trying to get a grip of the subject. It's hard to see which audience of readers the author is targetting.
All in all, I consider this to be a mildly interesting and useful book with the limited purpose of giving the reader a sprinkling of information on the rather complex and mystifying subject of linking and loading. I would still give it a 3/5 because it's readable and interesting for the most part.