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2.4 Memory Usage

BFD keeps all of its internal structures in obstacks. There is one obstack per open BFD file, into which the current state is stored. When a BFD is closed, the obstack is deleted, and so everything which has been allocated by BFD for the closing file is thrown away.

BFD does not free anything created by an application, but pointers into bfd structures become invalid on a bfd_close; for example, after a bfd_close the vector passed to bfd_canonicalize_symtab is still around, since it has been allocated by the application, but the data that it pointed to are lost.

The general rule is to not close a BFD until all operations dependent upon data from the BFD have been completed, or all the data from within the file has been copied. To help with the management of memory, there is a function (bfd_alloc_size) which returns the number of bytes in obstacks associated with the supplied BFD. This could be used to select the greediest open BFD, close it to reclaim the memory, perform some operation and reopen the BFD again, to get a fresh copy of the data structures.