[llvm-dev] A libc in LLVM
Siva Chandra via llvm-dev
llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Mon Jun 24 15:23:20 PDT 2019
Hello LLVM Developers,
Within Google, we have a growing range of needs that existing libc
implementations don't quite address. This is pushing us to start working on
a new libc implementation.
Informal conversations with others within the LLVM community has told us
that a libc in LLVM is actually a broader need, and we are increasingly
consolidating our toolchains around LLVM. Hence, we wanted to see if the
LLVM project would be interested in us developing this upstream as part of
To be very clear: we don't expect our needs to exactly match everyone
else's -- part of our impetus is to simplify things wherever we can, and
that may not quite match what others want in a libc. That said, we do
believe that the effort will still be directly beneficial and usable for
the broader LLVM community, and may serve as a starting point for others in
the community to flesh out an increasingly complete set of libc
We are still in the early stages, but we do have some high-level goals and
guiding principles of the initial scope we are interested in pursuing:
The project should mesh with the "as a library" philosophy of the LLVM
project: even though "the C Standard Library" is nominally "a library,"
most implementations are, in practice, quite monolithic.
The libc should support static non-PIE and static-PIE linking. This
means, providing the CRT (the C runtime) and a PIE loader for static
non-PIE and static-PIE linked executables.
If there is a specification, we should follow it. The scope that we need
includes most of the C Standard Library; POSIX additions; and some
necessary, system-specific extensions. This does not mean we should (or
can) follow the entire specification -- there will be some parts which
simply aren't worth implementing, and some parts which cannot be safely
used in modern coding practice.
Vendor extensions must be considered very carefully, and only admitted
when necessary. Similar to Clang and libc++, it does seem inevitable that
we will need to provide some level of compatibility with other vendors'
The project should be an exemplar of developing with LLVM tooling. Two
examples are fuzz testing from the start, and sanitizer-supported testing.
There are also few areas which we do not intend to invest in at this point:
Implement dynamic loading and linking support.
Support for more architectures (we'll start with just x86-64 for
For these areas, the community is of course free to contribute. Our hope is
that, preserving the "as a library" design philosophy will make such
extensions easy, and allow retaining the simplicity when these features
We intend to build the new libc in a gradual manner. To begin with, the
new libc will be a layer sitting between the application and the system
libc. Eventually, when the implementation is sufficiently complete, it will
be able to replace the system libc at least for some use cases and contexts.
So, what do you think about incorporating this new libc under the LLVM
Siva Chandra and the rest of the Google LLVM contributors
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