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libtool versioning and ABI

From: Joseph Garvin
Subject: libtool versioning and ABI
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 2009 16:32:31 -0500

I read a description of libtool's versioning here:

What's confusing to me is that this way of handling versioning doesn't seem to pay attention to ABI. It mentions bumping numbers for interface changes (API) but not for changing size of data structures, editing the contents of inline functions, etc. But this is the sort of thing Linux distributions need to deal with all the time, when I get an update for a library I don't usually have to redownload everything that depends on it too, so I figure somewhere ABI has to be paid attention to. Is libtool not part of this process or am I misinterpreting how the versioning works? In C++ at least adding a private member to a class isn't considered an interface change in the usual parlance, but perhaps libtool considers this to be an interface change since it would be in C (where you only have structs so all members are public)? Though if that were the case it seems like you'd have to pessimistically assume ABI is always broken which doesn't sound right either..

How does libtool versioning handle ABI breakage?

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