Skip to main content

old gcc + new a2ps = library mismatch

I wanted to set up a2ps 4.14 on an old SCO Unix machine (which suprsingly had a gcc compiler installed) for Transforming Ingres' legacy reports with PostScript 

Before you set up a2ps, you have to set gperf up first. Its installation  was a breeze, so I assumed that a2ps would install easily too.....However that was not the case; when reaching the 'make' phase I was getting the following error :

Making all in lib
        make  all-am
Making all in src
        make  all-am
        /bin/ksh ../libtool --tag=CC --mode=link gcc  -g -O2     -o a2ps  main.o
 read.o  sshread.o ssheet.o select.o  generate.o delegate.o regex.o  buffer.o ve
rsions.o ffaces.o  version-etc.o long-options.o  parsessh.o lexssh.o lexps.o  sh
eets-map.o ../lib/  -lm
gcc -g -O2 -o a2ps main.o read.o sshread.o ssheet.o select.o generate.o delegate
.o regex.o buffer.o versions.o ffaces.o version-etc.o long-options.o parsessh.o
lexssh.o lexps.o sheets-map.o  ../lib/.libs/liba2ps.a -lm 
Undefined                       first referenced
symbol                              in file
va_copy                             liba2ps.a(printlen.o) 
UX:ld: ERROR: Symbol referencing errors. No output written to a2ps
collect2: ld returned 1 exit status
*** Error code 1 (bu21)
UX:make: ERROR: fatal error.
*** Error code 1 (bu21)
UX:make: ERROR: fatal error.
*** Error code 1 (bu21)
UX:make: ERROR: fatal error.
*** Error code 1 (bu21)
UX:make: ERROR: fatal error. 
After a minute of constant....swearing (!!), I found my cool again and set to examine liba2ps.a

liba2ps.a is a collection of libraries, whose dissasembly reveals :

Symbols from ./lib/.libs/liba2ps.a[printlen.o]:

[Index]     Value      Size      Type  Bind  Other Shndx   Name

[1]       |0         |0         |FILE |LOCL |0    |ABS    |printlen.c
[2]       |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |1      |
[3]       |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |3      |
[4]       |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |4      |
[5]       |0         |0         |NOTY |LOCL |0    |1      |gcc2_compiled.
[6]       |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |6      |
[7]       |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |7      |
[8]       |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |9      |
[9]       |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |12     |
[10]      |0         |253       |FUNC |LOCL |0    |1      |int_printflen
[11]      |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |14     |
[12]      |0         |0         |NOTY |LOCL |0    |14     |__FRAME_BEGIN__
[13]      |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |16     |
[14]      |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |18     |
[15]      |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |5      |
[16]      |0         |0         |SECT |LOCL |0    |11     |
[17]      |0         |0         |NOTY |GLOB |0    |UNDEF  |strchr
[18]      |256       |43        |FUNC |GLOB |0    |1      |vprintflen
[19]      |0         |0         |NOTY |GLOB |0    |UNDEF  |va_copy
[20]      |300       |26        |FUNC |GLOB |0    |1      |printflen

that 'va_copy' is referenced in the printlen.o library and printlen.c file.Examining printlen.c we find a call to it at line 102 :
va_copy (ap, args);

Also since it is a GLOB binding we gather that it is defined elsewhere and not inside printlen.o; as a matter of fact it is not defined in none of the a2ps libraries but belongs to the underlying c library (or gcc library in this case) with its definition appearing in the 'stdarg.h' header :

vi ./usr/gnu/lib/gcc-lib/i586-unknown-sysv5/2.95.3pl1/include/stdarg.h

/* Copy __gnuc_va_list into another variable of this type. */
#define __va_copy(dest, src) (dest) = (src)
#endif /* _STDARG_H */

the issue here is that the gcc version is outdated,hence the gcc library itself, and subsequnetly 'va_copy''s signature does not match the one of the prototype inside printlen.c

Getting a new version of gcc was not an option; I was happy enough to see that there was a gcc instalation after all,let alone installing a new one!
So I was set for a workaround; modify the macro's definition from :

/* Copy __gnuc_va_list into another variable of this type. */
#define __va_copy(dest, src) (dest) = (src)
#endif /* _STDARG_H */

to :

/* Copy __gnuc_va_list into another variable of this type. */
#define va_copy(d,s)
#endif /* _STDARG_H */

This little change satisfied 'make',compiled successfully and a2ps was set up, at last. Now a test was in order to see if it actually works; fortunatelly it did and a2ps transformed a text file into a perfect postscript one


Popular posts from this blog

Serverless JavaScript

We recently joined in an interesting two-hour long conversation about Serverless JavaScript led by Steve Faulkner of Bustle who answered questions on Bustle, the Shep framework, the mindset behind the AWS Lambda infrastructure, and related topics.

The discussion took place on the Sideway conversation-sharing platform on January 6th. Here we present the best takeaways from the session which really should be taken notice of by anyone working on AWS.

Steve Faulkner:
At Bustle we serve over 50 million unique readers per month through a "serverless" architecture based on AWS Lambda and Node.js.  Of course there are still servers but we don't manage them. This shift has allowed us to develop products faster and decreased the cost of our infrastructure. I'll answer any questions about how we made this transition and how it has worked out. I'll also discuss some of the tools and best practises including our open source framework shep

Eran Hammer:
When would you…

Export your Wunderlist tasks with XPath

As brought up in this ProductHunt thread, the news is that Wunderlist is going to be deprecated in favor of the new Microsoft To-Do note taking platform.

This is what Wunderlist support had to say in response to my inquiry on Wunderlist's future:

"Now that the next evolution of Wunderlist is here, in the form of Microsoft To-Do Preview (, Wunderlist will no longer receive any updates or bug fixes and will eventually be retired. It won’t happen in the next few months and we’ll be sure to give our users plenty of notice beforehand. In the meantime, you can continue to use Wunderlist normally. Of course, we’d also love for you to try To-Do and let us know how you like it – and how we can improve it. While Wunderlist will continue to exist alongside To-Do for the time being, support for Wunderlist will eventually be removed. Not to worry, though! We will inform all Wunderlist users prior to shutting down service. You'll have ample opport…

Google's Cloud Spanner To Settle the Relational vs NoSQL Debate?

Cloud Spanner is a new proposition for database as a service that emphatically offers "Relational with NoSQL scaling". Will Google come to dominate yet another market?

Once upon a time there was only one kind of database management system, the RDBMS, "R" for relational. Despite its resilience and trustworthiness, it had its shortcomings; it did not scale well, and the relational model it served proved inadequate in the dawn of the Big Data era for handling massive amounts of schema-less, unstructured data.
For this and a few other reasons, a new breed of DBMS's emerged, one that could handle the avalanche of big data, based on the notion of the key-value pair, and doing so by scaling horizontally. But, in order to become versatile, this new breed of management systems had to forgo the safety of the ACID and the cosiness of SQL, both long term partners of the relational model. full article on i-programmer