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Absolute FreeBSD, 2nd Edition by Michael W. Lucas

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Managing Shared Libraries

A shared library is a chunk of compiled code that provides common functions to other compiled code. Shared libraries are designed to be reused by as many different programs as possible. For example, many programs must generate hashes, or cryptographic checksums, on pieces of data. If every program had to include its own hashing code, programs would be harder to write and more unpleasant to maintain. What's more, programs would have interoperability problems if they implemented hashes slightly differently, and program authors would have to learn an awful lot about hashes to use them. By using a shared library (in this example, libcrypt), the program can access hash generation functions without any compatibility and maintenance ...

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