Gentoo Development Guide

Arch Specific Notes -- AMD64/EM64T

Position Independent Code Issues

Gentoo Policy demands all shared objects to be compiled with -fPIC in CFLAGS. Since this is only a rule, you can break it on some arches. You might never notice it. On AMD64, this is a necessity, if shared objects aren't built with support for position independent code, the build process bails out with an error message like this:

foo.o: relocation R_X86_64_32 can not be used when making a shared
object; recompile with -fPIC

How to fix -fPIC issues

There are several ways to enforce -fPIC on shared objects, each with its pros and cons.

sed'ing the Makefile

Sometimes, a simple sed command is enough to fix it, however, the statements normally aren't very readable and may fail when upstream changes the file. Please verify that you only change the CFLAGS for shared objects, not for the whole package.


This is more readable, and easier to send upstream.

How not to fix -fPIC issues

Do not patch the Makefile itself, since it is usually generated by the configure script and may vary heavily, so the patch could fail. Also, this doesn't help upstream at all.

Another bad idea is to (ab)use append-flags function from flag-o-matic.eclass. Applying -fPIC on all objects should not be done. It should only be applied to shared objects.

Assembler Optimisation

Modern x86 processors support special instruction sets like mmx, sse, SSE2 and 3DNow!. AMD64 also provides support for them, but in most cases, x86 assembler code is incompatible with AMD64 assembler. There are lots of packages that provide support through USE flags for these instruction sets. Originally, the USE flags were introduced to keep support for older processors such as the Pentium I that can't handle such code. Currently, all AMD64s support the same combination of extended instruction sets, so there is no reason to make use of the mentioned USE flags. That's why these USE flags are hard-masked in all AMD64-profiles. This doesn't mean we don't support the extensions themselves, instead, we hard-enable them.

The following USE flags are masked on AMD64:

  • mmx
  • mmx2
  • sse
  • sse2
  • 3dnow
  • 3dnowext

Multilib on AMD64

The current AMD64 processors are able to natively run 32bit code on a 64bit kernel. Therefore, you can run programs compiled for x86 in an amd64 environment. However, 32bit applications need to be linked against 32bit libraries. Mixing them won't work. For this reason the libraries are sorted, 32bit libraries normally go to /lib32 respectively /usr/lib32, the 64bit ones normally to /lib64 or /usr/lib64. In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to read on. Unfortunately, that's not the case, and so it's a bit more complicated.



To generate 32bit code, we need a multilib-capable GCC. On other architectures, this functionality is enabled with the USE flag multilib. This is also true for amd64 with the pre-2005.0 profiles. From 2005.0 on, you have to choose whether you want multilib support or not by selecting the profile. Choose 2005.0/no-multilib if you don't want it, all other profiles have the multilib USE flag masked, you're forced to it. With these profiles, GCC will produce x86-code whenever you add -m32 to its command line. Adding -m64 or omitting any bit-width option will default to producing 64bit code.


If you've chosen a multilib profile, glibc will be built twice, once 64bit and once 32bit. This is because nearly every application links against glibc. To understand how this is done in the ebuild, read The ABI Variable.

The emul-linux-x86-* packages

As you read above, 32bit applications must be linked against 32bit libraries. For that, we've put together the most used libraries and stuck them into the so-called emul-linux-x86 packages, which are located in the app-emulation category. The current list of all the emul-linux-x86 packages, can be found here.

These packages only provide pre-compiled libraries. Currently, the archives are assembled manually, which is the main reason to keep the packages as tidy as possible. Do not include libraries that aren't commonly used.


The emul-packages might conflict with their native images, but only in uncritical locations like /usr/share which are arch-independent anyway.

Libdir Links

Currently, we provide several profiles, each with its own combination of libdir configurations.

Profile lib32 lib lib64
2004.3 *l->emul* d64 *l->lib*
2004.3/lib64 *l->emul* *l->64* d64
>=2005.0 d32 *l->64* d64
>=2005.0/no-multilib d32 *l->64* d64
>=2005.0/no-symlink d32 d d64
>=2005.0/no-symlink/no-lib32 inexistant d32 d64
Directory containing mixed-bit objects
Directory containing XXbit objects
Link to foo

To always get the right path, you should use the function $(get_libdir) from multilib.eclass. It will always return the correct directory, on all arches. And of course it also takes care of the ABI variable.

The multilib-strict Feature

Many Makefiles assume that their libraries should go to /usr/lib, or $(prefix)/lib. This assumption can cause a serious mess if /usr/lib isn't a symlink to /usr/lib64. To find the bad packages, we have a portage feature called multilib-strict. It will prevent emerge from putting 64bit libraries into anything other than (/usr)/lib64.

multilib-strict currently doesn't check perl5, gcc, gcc-lib and eclipse-3, this behaviour is controlled by the MULTILIB_STRICT_EXEMPT variable in make.profile.

How to fix ebuilds properly

In most cases, it's sufficient to use the $(get_libdir) function from multilib.eclass:

inherit multilib

src_compile() {
    econf \

    emake || die

src_install() {
    emake DESTDIR="${D}" install || die

Some packages provide really bad Makefiles which hard-code /usr/lib. Those should be sed -ed or patched. Don't forget to let upstream know about your modifications!

Headers and Multilib

Most C/C++ programs need standard header files like types.h. Some of them depend on architecture specific facts, e.g. types.h on the length of machine words. To ensure that we can compile both 32bit and 64bit applications and libraries, we treat /usr/include/asm a bit special.

This is what /usr/include/asm/types.h looks like on an AMD64 box:

/* Common header file autogenerated by create_ml_includes in multilib.eclass */
#ifdef __i386__
#include <asm-i386/types.h>
#endif /* __i386__ */

#ifdef __x86_64__
#include <asm-x86_64/types.h>
#endif /* __x86_64__ */

As you can see, this is just a wrapper that decides which file you need depending on the parameter -D given to gcc. You'll probably run into some troubles if you try to compile something by hand and forget to append -D__x86_64__ to your CFLAGS. Of course, this is not necessary when using portage. For an explanation, see the The ABI Variable section.

The ABI Variable

Whenever portage builds something on amd64, it has to decide whether it should be 32bit or 64bit. As stated in Headers and Multilib the __i386__ or __x86_64__ respectively, is needed in CDEFINE. Also, gcc has to know what code it should produce, therefore -m32 or -m64 must be appended to CFLAGS. This is done via profile.bashrc. All you need to do if you want to build a package 32bit is to set ABI=x86.

The details are shown in make.defaults:

MULTILIB_ABIS="x86 amd64"

LDFLAGS_amd64="-m elf_x86_64"

CFLAGS_x86="-m32 -L/emul/linux/x86/lib -L/emul/linux/x86/usr/lib"
LDFLAGS_x86="-m elf_i386 -L/emul/linux/x86/lib -L/emul/linux/x86/usr/lib"

Porting Notes

Machine Word sizes

On AMD64, some types differ in size from x86:

Type x86 (ILP32) amd64 (LP64)
char 1 byte 1 byte
short 2 bytes 2 bytes
int 4 bytes 4 bytes
long 4 bytes 8 bytes
long long 8 bytes 8 bytes
pointer 4 bytes 8 bytes
float 4 bytes 4 bytes
double 8 bytes 8 bytes
long double 16 bytes 16 bytes

If you need an exact amount of space, don't use these types but the uXX and sXX ones provided by types.h, where XX is the number of bits you need. Switching to a type that is the same on both arches is not suggested since it's not a clean solution and might cause problems with other arches.


Many upstream developers assume that the length of a pointer is 4 bytes, which can cause problems when programs do casts from void * to int and vice versa. With GCC 3.4, this causes warnings, the compilation won't abort. If you're lucky, your package works, but it's likely that you encounter segmentation faults or strange behaviour. GCC 4.0 refuses to compile such code.