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Just Enough C/C++ Programming by Guy W. Lecky-Thompson

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Executable File Format

An executable file, or application, is the end result of the programmer’s hard work. Whether it acts as the programmer intended is immaterial; the compiler and linker will do their best to build the application from the source code and libraries provided by the programmer.

This executable file is worth knowing about in a little more detail. Each one contains three vital areas: startup (or bootstrap) code, the program and data segments, and cleanup (or shutdown) code. The places where the application lives are called segments, which are just locations in the computer’s internal storage, or memory.

The computer reads the startup block (from the program segment), which tells the operating system (Windows, DOS, MacOS, Linux, ...

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