Searock Searock - 2 months ago 12x
C Question

Difference between API and ABI

I am new to linux system programming and I came across API and ABI while reading
Linux System Programming.

Definition of API :

An API defines the interfaces by which
one piece of software communicates
with another at the source level.

Definition of ABI :

Whereas an API defines a source
interface, an ABI defines the
low-level binary interface between two
or more pieces of software on a
particular architecture. It defines
how an application interacts with
itself, how an application interacts
with the kernel, and how an
application interacts with libraries.

How can a program communicate at a source level ? What is a source level ? Is it related to source code in anyway? Or the source of the library gets included in the main program ?

The only difference I know is API is mostly used by programmers and ABI is mostly used by compiler.


The API is what humans use. We write source code. When we write a program and want to use some library function we write code like:

 long howManyDecibels = 123L;
 int ok = livenMyHills( howManyDecibels);

and we needed to know that there is a method livenMyHills(), which takes a long integer parameter. So as a Programming Interface it's all expressed in source code. The compiler turns this into executable instructions which conform to the implementation of this language on this particular operating system. And in this case result in some low level operations on an Audio unit. So particular bits and bytes are squirted at some hardware. So at runtime there's lots of Binary level action going on which we don't usually see.