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How software looks like on your disk

Let’s discuss following question: how program is stored on your disk ?

Most people who use software don’t bother to learn such thing. They just click on shortcut located somewhere under “Start” button, and program starts. And they should not. This question is only important for very advanced users and software developers.

Most commercial programs are distributed in “binary” form. This has two advantages. For users, this means that OS will create executable image in memory very fast. For program author it means that their work is “protected”, because most users can’t edit binary code. The opposite way to distribute programs is by providing source code. Depending on proramming language, program could be converted into “binary” form or run by interpreter. Both approaches require some configuration from user, so they are not considered “user-friendly”.

Binary programs usually “monolitic”: all binary code is stored in single file. That’s also some sort of protection, because it forbids users to take away or re-use some part of program. However, sometimes programs allow to integrate themselves into other programs. In this case, programs are distributed as library + executable “driver”. Library is re-usable from other programs, and “driver” is intended to be run by direct users. For example, see Microsoft Office.

Categories: Technology
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