Tips & Tricks on Android

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hello World C program using Android Toolchain

I had reported earlier how I had gotten a C Hello World statically-linked program running on my Android phone using CodeSourcery's toolchain (on linux). Today I got a dynamically-linked Hello World program running on the phone, compiled using Android's prebuilt toolchain from the source.

It's well known that Android uses a stripped down version of libc, called bionic. When you compile your program with static linking, you don't use bionic because well, you linked statically. This is non-ideal. You want to use the bionic library on the phone, and besides you want to compile using Android's prebuilt cross-compiler arm-eabi-gcc

If you are anxious to get things working, use agcc, a perl wrapper over arm-eabi-gcc that sets up everything for you so that you can just:
$ agcc hello.c -o hello
and the resulting binary (hello) just works. Of course you should have the directory containing arm-eabi-gcc in your PATH for agcc to work.

Let's explore a bit deeper. But let me first simplify my hello program to contain just a main
$ cat hello.c int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {
return 0;
}


The minimal set of flags to pass to arm-eabi-gcc to get this working is:
$ arm-eabi-gcc -o hello hello.c -Wl,-rpath-link=/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib -L/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib -nostdlib /Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib/crtbegin_dynamic.o -lc

Here /Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake is the root of my Android source.

$ file hello

hello: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, ARM, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), not stripped

Note that the executable binary is dynamically linked.

If you leave out -Wl,-rpath-link=/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib you get
/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/prebuilt/darwin-x86/toolchain/arm-eabi-4.2.1/bin/../lib/gcc/arm-eabi/4.2.1/../../../../arm-eabi/bin/ld: warning: libdl.so, needed by /Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib/libc.so, not found (try using -rpath or -rpath-link) /Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib/libc.so: undefined reference to `dl_unwind_find_exidx' collect2: ld returned 1 exit status

If you leave out -L/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib you get
/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/prebuilt/darwin-x86/toolchain/arm-eabi-4.2.1/bin/../lib/gcc/arm-eabi/4.2.1/../../../../arm-eabi/bin/ld: cannot find -lc collect2: ld returned 1 exit status

If you leave out -nostdlib you get
/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/prebuilt/darwin-x86/toolchain/arm-eabi-4.2.1/bin/../lib/gcc/arm-eabi/4.2.1/../../../../arm-eabi/bin/ld: crt0.o: No such file: No such file or directory collect2: ld returned 1 exit status

If you leave out /Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib/crtbegin_dynamic.o you get
/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/prebuilt/darwin-x86/toolchain/arm-eabi-4.2.1/bin/../lib/gcc/arm-eabi/4.2.1/../../../../arm-eabi/bin/ld: crt0.o: No such file: No such file or directory collect2: ld returned 1 exit status

And finally, f you leave out -lc your compilation fails with:
/Users/nirnimesh/NIR/android/mydroid/cupcake/out/target/product/generic/obj/lib/crtbegin_dynamic.o: In function `_start': bionic/libc/arch-arm/bionic/crtbegin_dynamic.S:(.text+0x10): undefined reference to `__libc_init' collect2: ld returned 1 exit status

So far we've been able to compile C programs using Androids toolchain and run on the phone.
To summarize, it's the most convenient to use agcc as the compiler so you don't have to bother.