July 17, 2011

Mac OS X port released!

Red/System Mac OS X port is now completed and on par with Windows and Linux ports. The new Mach-O file emitter supports all current Red/System's features including #syscall and #import directives.

Now that all major 3 OS are supported, I can say that the Mac OS X file ABI and function call ABI are really the most complicated one to support from scratch, the Windows one (PE/COFF) being the simplest (with its own set of oddities, but simpler) and Linux's ELF somewhere in between. Among the issues we had to identify and deal with:
  • Stack alignment on 16 bytes constraint at the point of every library call (meet with the infamous "gate keeper" code causing segfaults and bus errors on misaligned calls)
  • Working around dynamically linked libraries info extraction that need to be copied from each library header to the generated executable image. This could have prevented cross-compilation.
  • The need for direct CALL opcode in the generated IA-32 code instead of indirect ones used for PE and ELF library function callings.

After a lot of efforts spent mostly in debugging, here is the result:

As you can see, it is fully functional and all unit tests are passing!

A couple of notes about usage:
  • The library you declare in #import definition needs to be located in /usr/lib/ or else, you need to provide a full path to the library.
  • The file emitter should support up to 255 imported libraries (Mach-O limit), but it has been tested only with one so far (libc.dylib), so if you have anything odd happening with more than one imported library, please fill a bug report in github's tracker, or post a message to the mailing-list.


  1. well done - its great to see real progress with Red. - Luke

  2. Awesome stuff!!! Well done


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