prelink is a program that modifies ELF shared libraries and ELF
dynamically linked binaries in such a way that the time needed
for the dynamic linker to perform relocations at startup
significantly decreases. Due to fewer relocations, the run-time
memory consumption decreases as well (especially the number of
unshareable pages). The prelinking information is only used at
startup time if none of the dependent libraries have changed
since prelinking; otherwise programs are relocated normally.
prelink first collects ELF binaries to be prelinked and all the
ELF shared libraries they depend on. Then it assigns a unique
virtual address space slot to each library and relinks the shared
library to that base address. When the dynamic linker attempts
to load such a library, unless that virtual address space slot is
already occupied, it maps the library into the given slot. After
this is done, prelink, with the help of dynamic linker, resolves
all relocations in the binary or library against its dependent
libraries and stores the relocations into the ELF object. It
also stores a list of all dependent libraries together with their
checksums into the binary or library. For binaries, it also
computes a list of conflicts (relocations that resolve
differently in the binary's symbol search scope than in the
smaller search scope in which the dependent library was resolved)
and stores it into a special ELF section.
At runtime, the dynamic linker first checks whether all dependent
libraries were successfully mapped into their designated address
space slots, and whether they have not changed since the
prelinking was done. If all checks are successful, the dynamic
linker just replays the list of conflicts (which is usually
significantly shorter than total number of relocations) instead
of relocating each library.
Verbose mode. Print the virtual address slots assigned to
libraries and what binary or library is currently being
Don't actually prelink anything; just collect the
binaries/libraries, assign them addresses, and with -v
print what would be prelinked.
Prelink all binaries and dependent libraries found in
directory hierarchies specified in /etc/prelink.conf.
Normally, only binaries specified on the command line and
their dependent libraries are prelinked.
When assigning addresses to libraries, allow overlap of
address space slots provided that the two libraries are
not present together in any of the binaries or libraries.
This results in a smaller virtual address space range used
for libraries. On the other hand, if prelink sees a
binary during incremental prelinking which puts together
two libraries which were not present together in any other
binary and were given the same virtual address space
slots, then the binary cannot be prelinked. Without this
option, each library is assigned a unique virtual address
When assigning addresses to libraries, start with a random
address within the architecture-dependent virtual address
space range. This can make some buffer overflow attacks
slightly harder to exploit, because libraries are not
present on the same addresses across different machines.
Normally, assigning virtual addresses starts at the bottom
of the architecture-dependent range.
Instead of prelinking, just relink given shared libraries
to the specified base address.
Don't save the cache file after prelinking. Normally, the
list of libraries (and with -m binaries also) is stored
into the /etc/prelink.cache file together with their given
address space slots and dependencies, so the cache can be
used during incremental prelinking (prelinking without -a
Specify an alternate config file instead of default
Specify an alternate cache file instead of default
Force re-prelinking even for already prelinked objects
whose dependencies are unchanged. This option causes new
virtual address space slots to be assigned to all
libraries. Normally, only binaries or libraries which are
either not prelinked yet, or whose dependencies have
changed, are prelinked.
Run prelink in quick mode. This mode checks just mtime
and ctime timestamps of libraries and binaries stored in
the cache file. If they are unchanged from the last
prelink run, it is assumed that the library in question
did not change, without parsing or verifying its ELF
Print the contents of the cache file (normally
/etc/prelink.cache) and exit.
Specify an alternate dynamic linker instead of the
Specify a special LD_LIBRARY_PATH to be used when prelink
queries the dynamic linker about symbol resolution
Only prelink ELF shared libraries, don't prelink any
When processing command line directory arguments, follow
symbolic links when walking directory hierarchies.
When processing command line directory arguments, limit
directory tree walk to a single file system.
Revert binaries and libraries to their original content
before they were prelinked. Without the -a option, this
causes only the binaries and libraries specified on the
command line to be reverted to their original state (and
e.g. not their dependencies). If used together with the -a
option, all binaries and libraries from command line, all
their dependencies, all binaries found in directories
specified on command line and in the config file, and all
their dependencies are undone.
Verifies a prelinked binary or library. This option can
be used only on a single binary or library. It first
applies an --undo operation on the file, then prelinks
just that file again and compares this with the original
file. If both are identical, it prints the file after
--undo operation on standard output and exits with zero
status. Otherwise it exits with error status. Thus if
--verify operation returns zero exit status and its
standard output is equal to the content of the binary or
library before prelinking, you can be sure that nobody
modified the binaries or libraries after prelinking.
Similarly with message digests and checksums (unless you
trigger the improbable case of modified file and original
file having the same digest or checksum).
--md5 This is similar to --verify option, except instead of
outputting the content of the binary or library before
prelinking to standard output, MD5 digest is printed. See
--sha This is similar to --verify option, except instead of
outputting the content of the binary or library before
prelinking to standard output, SHA1 digest is printed.
On IA-32, if the kernel supports Exec-Shield, prelink
attempts to lay libraries out similarly to how the kernel
places them (i.e. if possible below the binary, most
widely used into the ASCII armor zone). These switches
allow overriding prelink detection of whether Exec-Shield
is supported or not.
This option allows blacklisting certain paths, libraries
or binaries. Prelink will not touch them during
When performing an --undo operation, don't overwrite the
prelinked binary or library with its original content
(before it was prelinked), but save that into the
Print version and exit.
Print short help and exit.
Command-line arguments should be either directory hierarchies (in
which case -l and -h options apply), or particular ELF binaries
or shared libraries. Specifying a shared library explicitly on
the command line causes it to be prelinked even if no binary is
linked against it. Otherwise, binaries are collected together
and only the libraries they depend on are prelinked with them.
# /usr/sbin/prelink -avmR
prelinks all binaries found in directories specified in
/etc/prelink.conf and all their dependent libraries, assigning
libraries unique virtual address space slots only if they ever
appear together, and starts assigning libraries at a random
# /usr/sbin/prelink -vm ~/bin/progx
prelinks ~/bin/progx program and all its dependent libraries
(unless they were prelinked already e.g. during prelink -a
# /usr/sbin/prelink -au
reverts all binaries and libraries to their original content.
# /usr/sbin/prelink -y /bin/prelinked_prog >
/tmp/original_prog; echo $? verifies whether
/bin/prelinked_prog is unchanged.
Binary file containing a list of prelinked libraries
and/or binaries together with their assigned virtual
address space slots and dependencies. You can run
/usr/sbin/prelink -p to see what is stored in there.
Configuration file containing a list of directory
hierarchies that contain ELF shared libraries or binaries
which should be prelinked. This configuration file is
used in -a mode to find binaries which should be prelinked
and also, no matter whether -a is given or not, to limit
which dependent shared libraries should be prelinked. If
prelink finds a dependent library of some binary or other
library which is not present in any of the directories
specified either in /etc/prelink.conf or on the command
line, then it cannot be prelinked. Each line of the
config file should be either a comment starting with #, or
a directory name, or a blacklist specification. Directory
names can be prefixed by the -l switch, meaning the tree
walk of the given directory is only limited to one file
system; or the -h switch, meaning the tree walk of the
given directory follows symbolic links. A blacklist
specification should be prefixed by -b and optionally also
-l or -h if needed. A blacklist entry can be either an
absolute directory name (in that case all files in that
directory hierarchy are ignored by the prelinker); an
absolute filename (then that particular library or binary
is skipped); or a glob pattern without a / character in it
(then all files matching that glob in any directory are
This page is part of the prelink (prelink ELF shared libraries
and binaries) project. Information about the project can be
found at ⟨http://people.redhat.com/jakub/prelink/⟩. It is not
known how to report bugs for this man page; if you know, please
send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. This page was obtained from
the tarball prelink-20130503.tar.bz2 fetched from
⟨http://people.redhat.com/jakub/prelink/⟩ on 2023-12-22. If you
discover any rendering problems in this HTML version of the page,
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01 March 2007 prelink(8)