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.\" The Mono Linker manual page.
.\" Author:
.\" Jb Evain <>
.\" Copyright (C) 2007 Novell, Inc (
.de Sp \"
.if t .sp .5v
.if n .sp
.TH CIL Linker "monolinker"
Mono CIL Linker
.B monolinker [-o output_directory][-l i18n_assemblies][-c skip | copy | link] -x descriptor | -a assembly | -i info_file ...
\fImonolinker\fP is a CIL Linker.
The linker is a tool one can use to only ship the minimal possible set of
functions that a set of programs might require to run as opposed to the full
The linker analyses the intermediate code (CIL) produced by every
compiler targeting the Mono platform like mcs, gmcs, vbnc, booc or
others. It will walk through all the code that it is given to it, and
remove all the unused methods and classes. This is done using a mark
and sweep operation on all the code that it is referenced.
The generated output from the monolinker can be later processed by the
.I mkbundle
tool to generate small native self-contained executables.
Do not confuse this with the Assembly Linker (al) which creates
assemblies from manifests, modules and resource files.
.I "-d search_directory"
Specify a directory to the linker where to look for assemblies.
.I "-o output_directory"
Specify the output directory, default is 'output'.
If you specify the directory `.', please ensure that you won't write over
important assemblies of yours.
.I "-b true | false"
Specify whether to generate debug symbols or not, default is false.
.I "-g true | false"
Specify whether to generate a new guid for each linked module or reuse the
existing one, default is true.
.I "-l i18n_assemblies"
Specify what to do with the region specific assemblies
Mono have a few assemblies which contains everything region specific:
By default, they will all be copied to the output directory, but you can
specify which one you want using this command. The choice can
either be: none, all, cjk, mideast, other, rare or west. You can
combine the values with a comma.
.I "-c action"
Specify the action to apply to the core assemblies.
Core assemblies are the assemblies that belongs to the base class library,
like mscorlib.dll, System.dll or System.Windows.Forms.dll.
The linker supports three operations on these assemblies, you can
specify one of the following actions:
.ne 8
.I skip
This instructs the linker to skip them and do nothing with them.
.I copy
This instructs the linker to copy them to the output directory,
.I link
This instructs the linker to apply the linking process and reduce
their size.
.I "-p action assembly"
Specify per assembly which action to apply.
.I "-x descriptor"
Use an XML descriptor as a source for the linker.
Here is an example that shows all the possibilities of this format:
<assembly fullname="Library">
<type fullname="Foo" />
<type fullname="Bar" preserve="nothing" required="false" />
<type fullname="Baz" preserve="fields" required="false" />
<type fullname="Gazonk">
<method signature="System.Void .ctor(System.String)" />
<field signature="System.String _blah" />
<field name="someFieldName" />
In this example, the linker will link the types Foo, Bar, Baz and Gazonk.
The preserve attribute ensures that all the fields of the type Baz will be
always be linked, not matter if they are used or not, but that neither the
fields or the methods of Bar will be linked if they are not used. Not
specifying a preserve attribute implies that we are preserving everything in
the specified type.
The required attribute specifies that if the type is not marked, during the
mark operation, it will not be linked.
The type Gazonk will be linked, as well as its constructor taking a string as a
parameter, and it's _blah field.
You can have multiple assembly nodes.
.I "-a assemblies"
use an assembly as a source for the linker.
The linker will walk through all the methods of the assembly to generate only what
is necessary for this assembly to run.
.I "-i info_file"
use a .info xml file as a source for the linker.
An info file is a file produced by the tool mono-api-info. The linker will use it to
generate an assembly that contains only what the public API defined in the info file
.I "-s [StepBefore:]StepFullName,StepAssembly[:StepAfter]"
You can ask the linker to execute custom steps by using the -s command. This command
takes the standard TypeFullName,Assembly format to locate the step. You can customize
its position in the pipeline by either adding it before a step, or after.
using System;
using Mono.Linker;
using Mono.Linker.Steps;
namespace Foo {
public class FooStep : IStep {
public void Process (LinkContext context)
foreach (IStep step in context.Pipeline.GetSteps ()) {
Console.WriteLine (step.GetType ().Name);
If you compile this custom against monolinker to a Foo.dll assembly, you
can use the
.I -s
switch as follows. To add the FooStep at the end of the pipeline:
monolinker -s Foo.FooStep,Foo -a program.exe
This commanand will add the FooStep after the MarkStep:
monolinker -s MarkStep:Foo.FooStep,Foo -a program.exe
This command will add the FooStep before the MarkStep:
monolinker -s Foo.FooStep,Foo:MarkStep -a program.exe
This command will add the FooStep before the MarkStep
.I "-m CustomParam ParamValue"
Specify a parameter for a custom step.
Copyright (C) 2007 Novell, Inc (
Bugs report are welcome at
Product Mono Tools, Component linker.
Mailing lists are listed at
The linker has been written by Jb Evain, and have been partially founded by
the Google Summer of Code.
The linker is licensed under the MIT/X11 license. Please read the accompayning
MIT.X11 file for details.
.BR al(1),mkbundle(1),mono(1),mcs(1).