Fipsld and C++

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This wiki page will cover building a C++ project from the command line that statically links to libssl.a and libcrypto.a. The procedure requires three minor modifications to fipsld. The modifications will produce fipsld++ that follows the exiting procedures and re-sues the existing components. After fipsld++ is modified, its copied into fips-2.0 with the other FIPS binary components.

The example below demonstrates the procedures on Debian 7.3 (x64) using OpenSSL FIPS Capable 1.0.1f and the FIPS Object Module 2.0.5.


When attempting to link through the compiler driver when the compiler is C++, you will encounter at least two errors due to fips_premain.c:

/tmp/fips_premain-20db15.o: In function `FINGERPRINT_premain()':
/usr/local/ssl/fips-2.0/lib/fips_premain.c:103: undefined reference to `FIPS_text_start()'
/usr/local/ssl/fips-2.0/lib/fips_premain.c:116: undefined reference to `FIPS_incore_fingerprint(unsigned char*, unsigned int)'

If you link with the -Wl,--no-demangle linker flag, you will see the linker is looking for a C++ mangled name because fips_premain.c was compiled with a C++ compiler:

/tmp/fips_premain-be4611.o: In function `_Z19FINGERPRINT_premainv':
/usr/local/ssl/fips-2.0/lib/fips_premain.c:103: undefined reference to `_Z15FIPS_text_startv'
/usr/local/ssl/fips-2.0/lib/fips_premain.c:116: undefined reference to `_Z23FIPS_incore_fingerprintPhj'

The problem occurs because the symbols are declared extern, and not extern "C" in fips_premain.c (from around line 85):

extern const void         *FIPS_text_start(),  *FIPS_text_end();
extern const unsigned char FIPS_rodata_start[], FIPS_rodata_end[];
extern unsigned char       FIPS_signature[20];
extern unsigned int        FIPS_incore_fingerprint(unsigned char *,unsigned int);

fips_premain.c cannot be changed because it is sequestered under the FIPS process. A different method must be used to link a C++ project.

FIPS Object Module

The FIPS Object Module is built in accordance with the steps detailed in the OpenSSL FIPS 2.0 Security Policy. The OpenSSL Foundation also publishes a user guide at User Guide for the OpenSSL FIPS Object Module v2.0.

A grossly simplified digest of the steps follows, but they are essentially the same steps detailed in the guides and on other pages on this wiki.

# Download and verify signature on openssl-fips-2.0.5.tar.gz
$ wget
$ wget
$ pgp openssl-fips-2.0.5.tar.gz.asc 
pgp: Signature made Thu 20 Jun 2013 03:16:19 PM EDT using RSA key ID F295C759

# Build and install the FIPS Object Module
$ tar -xzf openssl-fips-2.0.5.tar.gz 
$ cd openssl-fips-2.0.5
$ ./config
$ make
$ sudo make install

# Copy required files missed by 'make install'
$ find . -iname incore
$ sudo cp util/incore /usr/local/ssl/fips-2.0/bin/
$ find . -iname fipsld
$ sudo cp fips/fipsld /usr/local/ssl/fips-2.0/bin/

FIPS Capable Library

The FIP Capable Library is a version of OpenSSL that uses the FIPS Object Module. The difference between building the standard library and the capable library is simply a switch to config - the fips switch.

# # Download and verify signature on openssl-1.0.1f.tar.gz
$ wget
$ wget
$ pgp openssl-1.0.1f.tar.gz.asc
pgp: Signature made Mon 06 Jan 2014 09:36:10 AM EST using RSA key ID F295C759

# Build and install
$ tar -xzf openssl-1.0.1f.tar.gz
$ cd openssl-1.0.1f/
$ ./config fips no-ssl2 <other options>
$ make all
$ sudo make install

The C++ Program

The sample C++ program simply enters FIPS mode.

#include <iostream>
using std::cout;
using std::endl;

#include <openssl/evp.h>
#include <openssl/err.h>

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
    int rc, mode;

    mode = FIPS_mode();
    if(mode == 0)
        rc = FIPS_mode_set(1);
        if(rc == 0) {
            cout << "Failed to enable FIPS mode, ";
            cout << "error: " << ERR_get_error() << endl;
        } else {
            cout << "Enabled FIPS mode" << endl;
        cout << "Already in FIPS mode" << endl;

    return 0;

Build Script

A build script is used to build the sample program. The build script performs the following and is shown below:

  • Sets OPENSSLDIR if its empty
  • Sets FIPS_SIG to point to incore
  • Sets FIPSLIBDIR to point to $OPENSSLDIR/fips-2.0/lib
  • Collects C sources in C_SOURCES
  • Collects C++ sources in CXX_SOURCES
  • Invokes CC on C_SOURCES
  • Invokes CXX on CXX_SOURCES
  • Collects object files in PROG_OBJECTS
  • Sets FIPSLD_CC to point to CXX
  • Sets CXX to point to fipsld
  • Links with fipsld via CXX

Compiling occurs as normal, and includes -std=c++11 (via CXXSTD) and -stdlib=libstdc++ (via CXXSTDLIB). Linking will still use the compiler driver, but it omits -std=c++11, and only uses -stdlib=libstdc++.

#! /bin/bash

# Standard build stuff


CFLAGS="-Wall -Wextra"
CXXFLAGS="-Wall -Wextra"

C_SOURCES=`ls *.c 2>/dev/null`
CXX_SOURCES=`ls *.cpp 2>/dev/null`

if [ ! -z "$C_SOURCES" ]; then 
  echo "Compiling C sources..."
    (set -x; $CC $CFLAGS $C_SOURCES -c)

if [ ! -z "$CXX_SOURCES" ]; then 
  echo "Compiling C++ sources..."

# OpenSSL and fipsld

if [ -z $OPENSSLDIR ] && [ -d /usr/local/ssl ]; then

export FIPS_SIG=`find $OPENSSLDIR/fips-2.0 -iname incore 2>/dev/null`
export FIPSLIBDIR=`find $OPENSSLDIR/fips-2.0 -iname lib 2>/dev/null`

export CXX=`find $OPENSSLDIR/fips-2.0 -iname fipsld++ 2>/dev/null`

if [ -z "$CXX" ]; then
  echo "Could not locate 'fipsld' in $OPENSSLDIR/fips-2.0"

if [ -z "$FIPS_SIG" ]; then
  echo "Could not locate 'incore' in $OPENSSLDIR/fips-2.0"

if [ -z "$FIPSLIBDIR" ]; then
  echo "Could not locate 'FIPS library directory' in $OPENSSLDIR/fips-2.0"

# Back to linking


echo "Linking..."
  (set -x; $CXX $CXXFLAGS -o main.exe $PROG_OBJECTS $OPENSSLDIR/lib/libssl.a $OPENSSLDIR/lib/libcrypto.a -ldl)


You have to make 3 modifications to fipsld++. To begin, make a copy of fipsld and name it fipsld++.

First Change

Open fipsld++ and find occurrences where fips_premain.c is compiled. There are four instances around lines 127, 146, 175 and 194. They look like:

    "${PREMAIN_C}" \
    ${_WL_PREMAIN} "$@"

Change the lines so that -x c proceeds "${PREMAIN_C}", and -x none follows it. An example is shown below.

    -x c "${PREMAIN_C}" -x none \
    ${_WL_PREMAIN} "$@"

If you build now, you will receive an error similar to main.exe is not cross-compiler aware:

:+/usr/local/ssl/fips-2.0/bin/incore ./main.exe
./main.exe is not cross-compiler aware.

Second Change

To fix the main.exe is not cross-compiler aware error, find occurrences where incore is invoked. incore is invoked through {FIPS_SIG}, and there are 2 instances around line 131 and 179. They look like:

if [ "x${FIPS_SIG}" != "x" ]; then
    # embed signature
    "${FIPS_SIG}" "${TARGET}"
    [ $? -ne 42 ] && exit $?

Change the lines so the invocation includes the -exe switch:

if [ "x${FIPS_SIG}" != "x" ]; then
    # embed signature
    "${FIPS_SIG}" -exe "${TARGET}"
    [ $? -ne 42 ] && exit $?

If you build now, you will calculate the expected signature using your program (main.exe below).

:+/usr/local/ssl/fips-2.0/bin/incore -exe ./main.exe
7d0e8dfc1912fca2b02e3e4cc5b0f05ee90fc67d:+[ 0 -ne 42 ]
:+exit 0

But the fipsld++ program exits early so that it only spews the expected signature:

$ ./main.exe 

Third Change

To fix the early exit of fipsld++, find the second occurrence of [ $? -ne 42 ] && exit $? and delete it. It happens around line 180:

if [ "x${FIPS_SIG}" != "x" ]; then
    # embed signature
    "${FIPS_SIG}" -exe "${TARGET}"

After deleting the second instance of the early exit, your program will run as expected after building.

Program Correctness

You can confirm the program executes successfully with the message Enabled FIPS mode:

$ ./main.exe 
Enabled FIPS mode

In addition, there will be no shared object dependencies on libssl or libcrypto:

$ ldd ./main.exe =>  (0x00007fff4d5ff000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f4a81857000) => /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f4a81550000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f4a812cd000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f4a810b7000) => /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ (0x00007f4a80d2c000)
    /lib64/ (0x00007f4a81a72000)