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Fundamental design decision: - the sizes of external and internal types are assumed to be the same. This leaves byte ordering aside. While assuming this the code can be greatly simplified and speed increases. Since no change violating this assumption is in sight this is believed to be a worthwhile optimization. - the ABI of the backend modules is not guaranteed. Really, no guarantee whatsoever. We are enforcing this in the code. The modules and their users must match. No third-party EBL module are supported or allowed. The only reason there are separate modules is to not have the code for all architectures in all the binaries. - although the public libraries (libasm, libdw) have a stable API and are backwards ABI compatible they, and the elfutils tools, do depend on each others internals, and on internals of libelf to provide their interfaces. So they should always be upgraded in lockstep when packaging the tools and libraries separately. For one example of how to do that, see the config/elfutils.spec.