To Static Binary Consolidation

Installing software with dynamic libraries can be a complicated task, sometimes leading to cascading issues on the host system, conflicts with existing libraries, and surprising bugs due to particulars of the versions of the libraries on the host system (i.e. "DLL Hell").

To-static is a binary rewriting software transformation that takes a COTS binary executable along with the dynamic libraries it would load at runtime, and consolidates them all into a single statically linked binary executable. This is useful in cases where the equivalent statically linked executable cannot be built from source: for example, because the original source code or build system are unavailable, or are available but cannot be modified to accommodate static linking. To-static allows a system to be developed using dynamic libraries (easier development; faster and simpler builds) but deployed as a single self-contained statically linked executable--without requiring alterations (or access) to the software source or build system for the core package or any libraries.

To-static provides all the benefits of static linking---simplified distribution, reduced runtime requirements, streamlined cross-library function calls---while ensuring that any subsequent binary transformations---e.g., control flow integrity (CFI), hardening, debloating, optimization---will automatically apply to library code as well as to the main executable code.

An example application of to-static to the curl utility is illustrated below.

This material is based upon work supported by the Navy and the Office of Naval Research under Contract(s) No. N68335-17-C-0700. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Navy or the Office of Naval Research.

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