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As usual with Mike Pall responses, their is not much that can
be argued about.

Thanks Mike and yes standardized binary distribs is good.


On Thu, 31 Mar 2005 03:15:13 +0200, Mike Pall <> wrote:
> Hi,
> Danilo Tuler wrote:
> > But maybe this is just for historical reasons.
> It's nice to have a separation in the Makefile between the core and
> the library files for embedding Lua in restricted environments.
> However the moment we are talking about shared libraries, this point
> becomes moot. Primarily because shared libraries imply a virtual
> memory system, a CPU with an MMU, page size granularity, relocation
> tables and so on ... The size of the Lua core and Lua core library
> is really insignificant then (have a look at the size of libc).
> A single shared library makes much more sense (in the good Lua tradition
> to keep things simple). VM systems only map in those code pages that
> are actively in use, anyway. This is not going to get better by splitting
> things up into two libraries (in fact it's likely to be worse).
> But read below why I think that one should not put the Lua core into
> a shared library at all (if possible).
> > Poll: does anyone do not link with liblua? Do you always use both libraries?
> I doubt that anyone does this except in a pure embedded environment
> (but shared libraries are unusual there). And lauxlib is in liblua
> which is another reason to link with both.
> On POSIX systems with ELF (or similar) binary formats I compile
> everything into a single 'lua' executable that is made with -Wl,-E
> (or equivalents). Loadable modules depend on symbols from the
> executable.
> On Windows I compile everything into a single lua51.dll except for lua.c
> which goes into lua.exe (linked to lua51.dll). Loadable modules depend
> on symbols from lua51.dll.
> I strongly recommend *NOT* to provide shared libraries on systems
> where this can be avoided (that is everywhere except for Windows).
> I've previously explained the reasons and I guess (I hope) this is
> why the shared library target is gone from the Lua 5.1 Makefiles
> (please don't resurrect it as part of a binary distribution).
> There are generally two ways one can use the Lua core: 'embedding'
> the core into your own executable or 'extending' the Lua standalone
> executable (or some variant of it) with your own modules:
> - Embedders couldn't care less about premade libraries. Neither do
>   game developers. They will compile their own (probably heavily patched)
>   sources. Don't worry about them.
> - Anyone extending Lua is using the 'lua' executable only (with the
>   core statically linked). On any reasonable virtual memory systems
>   this executable _is already shared_ in memory. There is no point
>   in putting the code into a shared library just for that purpose.
> - The Lua core is so small that using shared libraries would not
>   noticeably improve memory sharing or disk space sharing, anyway
>   (at least when we are talking about the category of systems that
>   have virtual memory).
>   Thus anyone that has the desire to replace the 'lua' standalone with
>   its own variant should do so by statically linking in the whole core.
>   However with the new module system in place, I can hardly see a point
>   in doing so (it's easier to use the provided executable and just load
>   some modules).
> - Putting the code into a shared library comes with a hefty performance
>   penalty on x86 when compiled with -fPIC. This steals one whole register
>   (EBX) of 6 available general purpose registers. Although some x86
>   ABIs permit compilation of shared libraries without -fPIC, this is
>   against the release policies of several distributions. The penalty
>   (one relocated copy for every process) is minor in the case of Lua
>   since it's so small and a multi-process scenario is unlikely
>   (a threaded or non-preemptive scenario does not suffer from this).
>   However those distributions won't change their policies because of us.
>   Since x86 is the predominant CPU architecture, we really want to
>   avoid the shared library performance penalty.
> - The advantage of smoother upgrades with shared libraries is not
>   relevant for Lua since it is explicitly stated that there is no
>   binary compatibility, even amongst minor versions. E.g. you need
>   to recompile everything when moving from Lua 5.0 to Lua 5.1.
> Case in point #1: ever wondered why the 'perl' executable is almost the
> same size as Simple: the executable is not linked against
> the shared library! It contains the same code, just statically linked.
> This is precisely because of the above reasons. In fact everything
> is compiled twice (once with -fPIC and once without) to get the most
> speed out of the standalone executable.
> Case in point #2: at least one major distribution builds Lua as a shared
> library. And guess what -- this distribution is used by the 'Great
> Computer Language Shootout' and that's one reason why Lua scores lower
> on it than one might hope for.
> Oh and BTW ... about the list of systems the binaries are built for:
> I doubt the Linux kernel version is relevant. What really matters is
> the libc version. And, err ... Motif? This is not present on most modern
> distributions (unless you explicitly install it) and the Lua core doesn't
> link with it. I guess this is for IUP?
> Anyway, I welcome the effort to standardize on some binary distribution
> conventions for Lua. This is much needed. Thank you for your work!
> Bye,
>      Mike