Create MySQL 5.1 Storage Engine Plugins Under Win32


A MySQL Storage engine requires functions that MySQL provides. Therefore, you normally need to link it into mysqld-core under Windows because mysqld.exe doesn't export all required functions (it's an .exe, not a .dll). So, you're unable to import the required functions in your plugin.

At least in theory.

However, I noticed that the MySQL guys were kind enough to ship a .map file with their release. It contains all the addresses of the required import functions. So, I had the following idea:

Microsoft introduced the Delayloading feature with the Microsoft Visual C 6 linker. This feature enables you to load required DLL functions during runtime. To do that, the linker binds the IAT-Pointers to a special import code that basically does LoadLibrary() and GetProcAddress() on the first access to the required function and then overwrites the IAT-Entry with the correct address. For more information on delay loading, see: http://www.microsoft.com/msj/1298/hood/hood1298.aspx.

Fortunately, the linker doesn't generate the delay-loading code himself. Instead, it just calls some pre-defined functions from delayimp.lib, which is shipped with Microsoft Visual Studio 6 and above. Microsoft fortunately also ships the source code for the delay import loader in the VC98\Include\DELAYHLP.CPP file. So, you already can guess what my idea is:

You need to write your own delay-Import loader that resolves the entry points to the requested functions in the .map file and writes the correct function pointer for it to the IAT. Because the plugin is running in the context of the mysqld.exe process that contains all the code, you just need a far pointer to the required code. Of course, you have to check whether the .exe file was relocated and eventually relocate the addresses from the .map file, but this shouldn't be a big problem because the required load address is also in the .map file (address - required load address + real load address). Because the module handle of a module is identical to the load address, this is easy. So, you create your own delayimp.lib that you link with your plugin and resolve all imports dynamically during runtime. However, by design, the linker still needs an Import library for the function declarations to resolve.

Now, here you go...

First, you need to set up your build environment where you will do all the work. Create the win\delayload directory in your MySQL Source directory.

Building the Import Library

1. Create a static import library

You have to build a library file out of all the objects from mysqld so that the linker is satisfied. To get a list of the objects that need to be used, I created a little batch script that collects from the build.make file cmake creates during the build process of mysqld. Because you need the compiled objects and the build.make file, you first need to compile mysqld, if you haven't already. To do so, you can type:

cmake.exe" . -G "NMake Makefiles"

in the root directory of the MySQL Sources. Put your make_lib.cmd batch script in your working directory (win\delayload).

Open a shell in this directory and set up your VC Environment because you need the lib.exe tool in the path to run the script properly (run vcvars32.bat). Then, run the script:


This packs together all objects into a new static library: mysqld-test-static.lib. In fact, you could use the plugin now, after linking to this static .lib, because you now have all your required functions included. However, this is silly, because your .dll would be as big or even bigger as the mysqld.exe, so it doesn't really make sense. So, in the next step you need to convert it to a DLL and produce an import library for the linker so that you can use the delayimport directive. You won't be able to create a .dll, but creating an import library should work and this is enough.

2. Convert the static library to a DLL

The next step will be to convert the static library to a DLL. Because this is quite a complicated task (there is no possibility to create a DLL automatically that exports all symbols with the default MSVC Toolchain), you have to use a little helper script again. Part of the credits go to Mr. Grigore Stefan, who originally wrote a conversion script that can be found at http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=496762&SiteID=1.

However, I needed to adapt the script to use it for the MySQL import library creation. The original script was quite slow and didn't create a valid .def file for data exports; it didn't mark them so every exported symbol was a function for the import library, and this is wrong.

To create a proper .def file for the exports, you need the help of two GPL programs: the MinGW dlltool and the GNU Stream editor sed. Dlltool creates a valid .def file with all exports from the static lib you created before and the stream editor fixes a few errors in the created .def file. See the batch script for details. So, dlltool.exe and sed.exe need to be in the path. If you don't have them, download them and extract them to your working directory. On your shell that has already been been set up with the Visual C build environment, run:

lib_to_dll mysqld

This could take quite some time, but if everything works it should result in the mysqld.lib import library.

Set Up Your Plugin

3. Add delayloader to your plugin and tell the linker to link dynamically

Next, you want to delayload the non-existant mysqld.dll with your delayloader code in your storage engine plugin so that the delayloader can do its job. Therefore, you have to tell the linker to use it. Because MySQL uses the Cmake build system, edit your CMakeLists.txt file accordingly. Add the following lines to it (and edit them accordingly):

SET(DELAY_LDR_DIR ../../win/delayload)
   (your_storage_engine PROPERTIES LINK_FLAGS "/DELAYLOAD:mysqld.dll")

A few words about the delayloader:

It reads the .map file in the directory of the hosting process (in your case, the mysqld.exe) into a hashtable. Then, it resolves the addresses using this table. However, there is a little difficulty with the delayloader module:

Unfortunately, there are differences in the VC6 and VC7+ linker for the delay loader because, when 64-bit architecture emerged, the designers of the delayloader discovered that they should have used RVAs instead of pointers in the ImgDelayDescr. Therefore, you have to handle both linker versions with the correct linking code. Each Visual Studio version has a different header file. The delayloader code tries to handle this and compile for the correct version. This delayloader was only tested with the VC6 linker; there is no guarantee that it will work with the new delayloader, but theoretically it should.

4. Link it

Next, you can try to build your makefiles with cmake and link it. I'm using nmake for this purpose, so I'm executing cmake . -G "NMake Makefiles" in the MySQL main directory; afterwards, I'll build my plugin using the nmake command. But, it should also work using other cmake targets.

Depending on your plugin, you may get linker errors referring to unresolved external symbols. They usually refer to global data variables that are used by your plugins. For example, when linking my plugin initially, the linker showed the following unresolved symbols:

ha_storage.obj : error LNK2001: Nichtaufgeloestes externes Symbol _
   "class Bitmap<64> const key_map_empty" _
ha_storage.obj : error LNK2001: Nichtaufgeloestes externes Symbol _
ha_storage.obj : error LNK2001: Nichtaufgeloestes externes Symbol _
   "struct charset_
info_st * system_charset_info" _
storage.dll : fatal error LNK1120: 3 unaufgeloeste externe Verweise

Create MySQL 5.1 Storage Engine Plugins Under Win32

5. Manually resolve external data symbols

Unfortunately, the linker cannot delay load DATA symbols, just functions. So now, here comes the tricky part...

You somehow have to set up pointers to the symbols that can be resolved by your delay loader and dereference them in the plugin. Basically, you need to convert these symbols to pointers and every time you use such a pointer, you need to dereference it so that it always points to the correct memory location. Because these symbols also may be defined in the MySQL header files, you need a way to do all this stuff transparently. Fortunately, you have a preprocessor that can do the nasty work for you. You use a little trick:

First, you need to turn all references to the object into pointers and dereference them. So, at the beginning of your source before including any MySQL headers, you write #defines doing this. For my example above, this would be:

#ifdef WIN32
#define system_charset_info *ppsystem_charset_info
#define my_charset_bin *pmy_charset_bin

Next, you include the MySQL headers you need:

#include "mysql_priv.h"

Now, you need to look up the declarations of your missing symbols in the MySQL source code and put them into your plugin file. (Remember: The preprocessor already has done its work at this point.)

#ifdef WIN32
const key_map key_map_empty(0); CHARSET_INFO *system_charset_info; CHARSET_INFO my_charset_bin; #endif

key_map_empty is always declared the way I declared it here, so you have no need to reference the original symbol. But, you would do this in the same way as for the other exports. At this point, you have function pointers declared; they will be dereferenced when you use them. Of course, the pointers are still invalid at this point. So, you have to initialize them upon module initialisation. To do this, you need to know how your delayloader works. I declared two functions that can do the job: _LoadMyMapfile and GetMapProcAddress.

_LoadMyMapfile just searches and parses the mysqld.map file and adds all functions and the matching address to an internal hashtable where it can be looked up quickly. The function returns a HMODULE that specifies the module handle that you should use to get the correct address for a specific function with GetMapProcAddress. If _LoadMyMapfile returns 0, an error occurred (in other words, the .map file isn't found). Because the HMODULE is always the load address of the module and the handle you're getting back is the handle of mysqld.exe, you can determine the correctly relocated address for a specific import function.

Long story short, you first need to declare the two functions of the delayloader:

#ifdef WIN32
extern "C" HMODULE _LoadMyMapfile(void); extern "C" FARPROC GetMapProcAddress (HANDLE hModule, _ const char *szImport); #endif

Now, in your plugin init_func, you need to resolve all external symbols that the linker complained about. Remember the names with the funny decorations you got before? You need them now. For my example, I would add the following code to my plugin init function:

#ifdef WIN32
HMODULE hMod = _LoadMyMapfile(); if (!hMod) DBUG_RETURN(1);> pmy_charset_bin = (CHARSET_INFO*)GetMapProcAddress(hMod, _ "my_charset_bin"); ppsystem_charset_info = (CHARSET_INFO**)GetMapProcAddress(hMod, _ "?system_charset_info@@3PAUcharset_info_st@@A"); #endif
Note: You need the function names you used in the #define above here because you don't want the dereferenced version the preprocessor would write here. Also, be aware that you have to cast to a pointer to the type of the symbol (add a pointer).

After you're through this annoying procedure, link your storage engine again and it should now link correctly.

Congratulations. You now have a dynamically loadable storage engine plugin!


This article is just a workaround until MySQL fixes their plugin API for Win32. I would suggest that MySQL should put all the functionality of MySQLd to a DLL and make mysqld.exe just the loader for it. This way, a plugin could depend on the DLL and would make this workaround obsolete.

This article was originally published on November 15th, 2007

About the Author

Ludwig Ertl

I started programming at age 8 on my Commodore 64 in BASIC and later moved to the IBM PC. I learned Assembler and C and loved it, so I got familiar with System level programming. I'm currently working as a UNIX C-Programmer for a medical software company in Austria. I'm interested in System programming of any kind, especially in DOS/Win32/Unix on the Intel x86 platform. My Diploma thesis was about Rootkit detection and removal on Win32. I personally dislike Resource-hungry software development tools like .NET and Java technology and prefer C over C++ code. People should use System Resources instead of wasting them.


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