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I have always been wondering, why is Linux ELF "loader" called interpreter? I mean, in standard programming meaning, an interpreter is used to run scripts, but ELF has machine code instructions. So it's more like the Windows loader.

I am really confused here.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

An interpreter is a program that translates code into immediate action, as opposed to a compiler, which translates one kind of code into another. An ELF interpreter translates the linking instructions embedded in the executable into the actions of loading the necessary dynamic libraries.

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