Linker and Libraries Guide

Move Read-Only Data to Text

Data elements that are read-only should be moved into the text segment using const declarations. For example, the following character string resides in the .data section, which is part of the writable data segment.

char * rdstr = "this is a read-only string";

In contrast, the following character string resides in the .rodata section, which is the read-only data section contained within the text segment.

const char * rdstr = "this is a read-only string";

Reducing the data segment by moving read-only elements into the text segment is admirable. However, moving data elements that require relocations can be counterproductive. For example, examine the following array of strings.

char * rdstrs[] = { "this is a read-only string",
                    "this is another read-only string" };

A better definition might seem to be to use the following definition.

const char * const rdstrs[] = { ..... };

This definition ensures that the strings and the array of pointers to these strings are placed in a .rodata section. Unfortunately, although the user perceives the array of addresses as read-only, these addresses must be relocated at runtime. This definition therefore results in the creation of text relocations. Representing the array as:

const char * rdstrs[] = { ..... };

ensures the array pointers are maintained in the writable data segment where they can be relocated. The array strings are maintained in the read-only text segment.

Note –

Some compilers, when generating position-independent code, can detect read-only assignments that result in runtime relocations. These compilers arrange for placing such items in writable segments. For example, .picdata.