[erlang-questions] module preloading in embedded mode

Xavier Noria fxn@REDACTED
Fri Jan 19 09:56:14 CET 2018

I have been tracing the boot progress of a minimal release (generated with
Mix) to understand who and when preloads modules and runs on_load handlers.

The source code of application.erl and application_controller.erl seem to
suggest that (-init_debug notation)


basically loads the application resource file and stores stuff in ETS
tables, but object code does not seem to be loaded (that coincides with the
documentation of application:load/1, but contradicts at least two books).

I have added an on_load callback in a module that prints a trace, and that
trace is shown after *all* applications have been loaded, after kernel has
been started, and before stdlib is started.

I thought that meant kernel:start_boot preloaded the modules. But I have
read some of the initialization of kernel and I believe the callback is
*not* called when the module has been loaded into the VM, but with this ad-
hoc line in the init/1 of kernel_sup:

On the other hand, I have read the source code of init.erl and looks like
the thing happens when processing primLoad:


which goes before all application loading in a conventional generated boot

So, I've come with this tentative workflow:

    * primLoad loads all object code into the BEAM. In a normal boot script
that means loading all modules of all bundled applications and included

    * Loading applications just processes and stores the application
resource file.

    * On boot, on_load handlers do not actually run when the object code is
loaded into the BEAM, but much later, when kernel_sup is initialized as
part of starting the kernel application (which I guess makes sense because
you want to run that code when the callback is able to execute with enough
stuff bootstrapped).

My walkthrough has not been exhaustive, though. Can anyone confirm/refute
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