Debloating Software through Piece-Wise Compilation and Loading


Anh Quach and Aravind Prakash, Binghamton University; Lok Yan, Air Force Research Laboratory


Programs are bloated. Our study shows that only 5% of libc is used on average across the Ubuntu Desktop envi- ronment (2016 programs); the heaviest user, vlc media player, only needed 18%. In this paper: (1) We present a debloating framework built on a compiler toolchain that can successfully de- bloat programs (shared/static libraries and executables). Our solution can successfully compile and load most li- braries on Ubuntu Desktop 16.04. (2) We demonstrate the elimination of over 79% of code from coreutils and 86% of code from SPEC CPU 2006 benchmark pro- grams without affecting functionality. We show that even complex programs such as Firefox and curl can be debloated without a need to recompile. (3) We demon- strate the security impact of debloating by eliminating over 71% of reusable code gadgets from the coreutils suite, and show that unused code that contains real-world vulnerabilities can also be successfully eliminated with- out adverse effects on the program. (4) We incur a low load time overhead.

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@inproceedings {217642,
author = {Anh Quach and Aravind Prakash and Lok Yan},
title = {Debloating Software through {Piece-Wise} Compilation and Loading},
booktitle = {27th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 18)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-939133-04-5},
address = {Baltimore, MD},
pages = {869--886},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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