ld.info: BFD

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BFD

   The linker accesses object and archive files using the BFD libraries.
These libraries allow the linker to use the same routines to operate on
object files whatever the object file format.  A different object file
format can be supported simply by creating a new BFD back end and adding
it to the library.  To conserve runtime memory, however, the linker and
associated tools are usually configured to support only a subset of the
object file formats available.  You can use `objdump -i' (*note
objdump: (binutils.info)objdump.) to list all the formats available for
your configuration.
   As with most implementations, BFD is a compromise between several
conflicting requirements. The major factor influencing BFD design was
efficiency: any time used converting between formats is time which
would not have been spent had BFD not been involved. This is partly
offset by abstraction payback; since BFD simplifies applications and
back ends, more time and care may be spent optimizing algorithms for a
greater speed.
   One minor artifact of the BFD solution which you should bear in mind
is the potential for information loss.  There are two places where
useful information can be lost using the BFD mechanism: during
conversion and during output. *Note BFD information loss::.