Random thoughts shooting out of volatile mind
Handling C++ symbols that vary across architectures


I'm no symbol expert and dealing with symbol files for first time from the time I started packaging. What I did here is depending on some suggestions I got in #debian-mentors.

If you think what I did was wrong please enlighten me :-).


Recently 2 of my library packages pugixml and ctpp2 got accepted into Debian archive and when buildd tried to build them on remaining architectures other than one for which I uploaded (amd64) builds failed. This was expected as symbols file which I generated was for amd64. As usual I got 2 serious bug reports #704718 and #705135.


First I was not sure how to handle this. I read article on symbols files handling by rra [1] and tried to use pkgkde-symbolshelper tool only to quickly figure out that I need to use pkgkde_symbolshelper addon for dh sequencer. But this was not possible for me as I was using CDBS for packaging.

I did a quick chat on #debian-mentors and some one suggested me to tag symbols which vary across architecture with (c++) tag. First I was not sure but after reading dpkg-gensymbols man page understood that I need to replace the entire mangled symbols lines with de-mangled version tagged with (c++) in the beginning.

But this was hectic job searching for each deleted symbols and replacing it. So I thought of writing a script to do the job and after struggling for 3 days (yeah I was bit dumb that I didn't read manual date: "2013-04-14 18:39:20 +0530" pugixml and ctpp2 package using it, which is now waiting for Jonas for uploading it.

Here is the script

set +x

if [ $# -lt 3 ]; then
    echo "Usage: $0 failed_buildlogs_directory symbols_file package_version"
    exit 2

for LOGFILE in $(ls $BUILD_LOG_DIRECTORY/*.build); do
    for i in $(grep '^-\s_Z' $LOGFILE | perl -pe 's/-//g;'); do
        if [ $i = $PACKAGE_VERSION ];then
        demangled_version="\""$(echo $i" "$PACKAGE_VERSION | c++filt)"\""
        tagged_version="(c++)"${demangled_version%$VERSION_TO_REPLACE}"\" "$PACKAGE_VERSION
        escaped_tagged_version=$(echo $tagged_version | sed 's/\&/\\\&/')
        sed -i "s#$i $PACKAGE_VERSION#$escaped_tagged_version#" $SYMBOLS_FILE

So basically to make this work we need all buildlogs to be downloaded from buildd's again this was easy thanks to rra for developing pkgkde-getbuildlogs :-).

Once you have build logs directory run the above script as follows

cppsymbol_replace.sh path_to_buildlogs path_to_symbol_file upstream_version

After replacing symbols I tried to build package on i386 chroot and build passed successfully but lintian told me that there are symbols which have Debian version appended to it and this might lead to date: "2013-04-14 18:42:42 +0530" back to mentors :-).

It is this time I really understood concept of mangled names generated by compiler and why it vary across the architecture ;-).

This time some one by nick pochu suggested me to pass option -v with package version to dpkg-gensymbols to make it generate symbols with package version and not Debian version.

The following probably needs to be done if package uses dh sequencer but I'm not sure as I've not tested it. If wrong please correct me.

    dh_makeshlibs -- -v$PACKAGEVERION #package version needs to be either extracted using parsechangelog or manually fed

If you are using CDBS this is pretty simple. Just add following to rules


I noticed that when I provide (c++) tagged de-mangled name dpkg-gensymbols simply replaces it with proper mangled name but the deletion doesn't trigger an error in dpkg-gensymbols.

This script me allowed to replace 128 symbols which were very tricky and long with de-mangled and tagged version in ctpp2, so I hope it should work across different packages without any problem. Only silly mistake I did was occurrence of & symbol in function making sed go mad which I took one full day to debug :facepalm:.

So that's it folks, if you see something wrong in what I did please let me know through the comments.

[1] http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/journal/2012-01/008.html

Posted by: copyninja on Sunday, 14 April 2013

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