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It was originally intended to be a sort of standard cross-platform library, thus enabling it to be linked (using the usual Unix library form) by just saying "-liberty". The contents consisted of a variety of useful functions. However, the development of standards for C and POSIX took away some of the impetus for this, and libiberty came to be used primarily as a support library for the GNU toolchain.
The name is a pun or word play on the word "liberty". On Unix-like operating systems, library files are always named "lib" + "the name of the library." But when they are linked to with a C compiler command (
gcc, etc.), the command line flag specifying the library is
-l followed by the part of the library name after "lib". In libiberty's case it therefore becomes
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