Understanding isOSVersionAtLeast on macOS

Understanding ___isOSVersionAtLeast on macOS is not defined


I came across with the linker problem. My application was not able to link with the ___isOSVersionAtLeast symbol is undefined error. It was the problem linking curl with a Kotlin/Native app. I did a tiny project to reproduce the linker error. As a side effect, here is a Minimalistic C library and Kotlin/Native example. And finally, the main rant and investigation post. The good part is I got a suggestion to try.

Use clang not ld

The suggestion I got (and I say thank you for that) was to use clang command, not the ld one:

clang -mmacosx-version-min=10.10 -lc main.o lib.a

It did work. It was able to link. Next, we may try -v switch to see how it works inside, with arguments split per lines and long paths simplified:

> clang -mmacosx-version-min=10.10 -lc main.o lib.a -v

Apple LLVM version 9.1.0 (clang-902.0.39.2)
Target: x86_64-apple-darwin17.6.0
Thread model: posix
InstalledDir: /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Toolchains/XcodeDefault.xctoolchain/usr/bin

    -lto_library /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Toolchains/XcodeDefault.xctoolchain/usr/lib/libLTO.dylib 
    -arch x86_64 
    -macosx_version_min 10.10.0 
    -o a.out 

The right path (and I did it wrong in the previous post) is


Still, the best way to use that commandline is to have no such commandline in the build.

The Linker Error Solution

The answer here is to use clang command instead of ld command. Note, that command line options are different, and clang calls (specify -v key to see that) ld with additional arguments.

Linking with Kotlin/Native

At that point, we have a workable inc.sh script to compile and link the static library with the executable in the repository on GitHub. Time to fix in.sh that links the static C library with a Kotlin/Native executable. You may want to have a look at the introductory post here.

A Dumb Approach

The very first (and dump) fix is to include the libclang_rt.osx.a path (see above) into the konanc call with the -linkerOpts <path>/libclang_rt.osx.a. It make the code compile and run.

Right Approach

Let’s debug how Kotlin/Native executes the linker first. You pass the --verbose linker to see the verbose output from the linking phase (use konanc --list_phases to learn all phases). The output on my machine is as follows, with arguments split per lines and long paths simplified:

> konanc -l lib.klib main.kt -linkerOpts  lib.a  -linkerOpts $L -o main.kexe --verbose linker

/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Toolchains/XcodeDefault.xctoolchain/usr/bin/ld \
    -object_path_lto temporary.o 
    -lto_library /Users/jonnyzzz/.konan/dependencies/clang-llvm-5.0.0-darwin-macos/lib/libLTO.dylib 
    -arch x86_64 
    -macosx_version_min 10.11.0 
    -syslibroot /Applications/Xcode.app/<...>/SDKs/MacOSX10.13.sdk 
    -o <target folder>/main.kexe 
    <temp folder>/combined.o 
    -framework Foundation 
    -lSystem <Konan Toolchaing path>/libffi.a 
    -alias _Konan_main _main 
    <our hack path to>/libclang_rt.osx.a

Let’s compare the commands. The linker executable is selected right from both sides. The sensible difference is we miss libclang_rt.osx.a from the Kotlin/Native command. There are two ways to go:

  • link the libclang_rt.osx.a with lib.a before the final linking
  • infer path to libclang_rt.osx.a and include it into the linker command

Checking clang --help and I found the -print-libgcc-file-name argument. It does provide hints, but it is not enough just now.

The Outcome

Frankly, I do not like linking with libclang_rt explicitly. The library is a part of toolchain internals. It will make builds too fragile or not incorrect. The hack will not worth it in the long run.

The right way, as I see it, is to fix the original library build to make sure it is pre-linked with all necessary internals. That matches with the encapsulation principle. It simplifies the rest. The backup plan is to call clang with -v key, parse the command output to get the path to the libclang_rt, and use it as an explicit library.

Building Curl

A pre-history. I first saw the missing ___isOSVersionAtLeast symbol error while building and static linking the libcurl. My goal is to have a self-contained static library out of it.

I used the wrong artifact and build it incorrectly. I see the right static library is somewhere under curl build directory. I did that wrong. Do that right. Respect the privacy and build internals.

The right way is

  • to set install prefix path in ./configure
  • to call make install
  • use artifacts for the prefix path
  • deliver the libclang_rt as dependency (or merge it in?)

The library under the prefix do contain reference to our favorite ___isOSVersionAtLeast symbol. The make install package looks reusable and reduces hard-coded build hacks, still.

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