weird elf header issues, is it binutils or my linker script?

Chris Friesen chris.friesen at
Fri Mar 29 02:04:19 EST 2013

Hi all,

We're running into an problem with a (somewhat complicated) 32-bit powerpc binary.
When we try to run it, it hits the null-terminated interpreter test in the kernel and
bails out with ENOEXEC.

Looking at the binary with readelf, the program headers contain the following:

Program Headers:
  Type           Offset   VirtAddr   PhysAddr   FileSiz MemSiz  Flg Align
  PHDR           0x000034 0xf2000034 0xf2000034 0x00120 0x00120 R   0x4
  INTERP         0x000154 0xf2000154 0xf2000154 0x00030 0x0002d R   0x4
      [Requesting program interpreter: /lib/]

Notice the unusually large size of the INTERP header--instead of 0xd it's 0x30.
This causes problems when we try to run, because while the string "/lib/"
is null-terminated it just so happens that the byte at 0x000154+0x00030-1
(which corresponds to elf_interpreter[elf_ppnt->p_filesz - 1] in the kernel code)
is not, and so it fails the kernel test.

We do use a custom linker script when building this binary.  I can only find
two entries related to the interpreter:

  headers PT_PHDR PHDRS ;
  interp PT_INTERP ;

  /* Read-only sections, merged into text segment: */
  PROVIDE (__executable_start = 0xf2000000); . = 0xf2000000 + SIZEOF_HEADERS;
  .interp         : { *(.interp) } :text :interp

So I'm this something wrong with our linker script, or is there a bug
in our binutils?  I'm no linker expert, but the interpreter sections in the script
seem to match the binutils documentation that I found and I don't see anything that
would be messing with the length.

Any suggestions on where to look?



Chris Friesen
Software Designer

500 Palladium Drive, Suite 2100
Ottawa, Ontario K2N 1C2, Canada
chris.friesen at

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