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Demystifying the .NET Global Assembly Cache
Author: Talkar, JeremiahPosted: 6/2/2005 5:35:25 PM
My first introduction to the .NET Global Assembly Cache (henceforth referred to only as the GAC) was during a Guerrilla .NET Course conducted by Develop Mentor a week after the .NET Framework Beta 1 Release. I was immediately fascinated by this magical and mysterious piece within the entire .NET puzzle (yes, .NET had been a puzzle to me for a very long time). While ordinary (Private) assemblies cohabit peacefully within their master’s (client executable’s) folder or sub-folders thereof, the highly sociable (Shared) assemblies, including the all important .NET System assemblies implementing the Framework Class Library, reside within this majestic abode called the GAC.

The primary purpose behind writing this article is to share my findings related to the GAC with the development community. The information presented herein is original and a direct result of my personal research. To the best of my knowledge, these details have not been covered in any .NET article or book.

Since references to Fusion occur throughout this article, it may be appropriate to clarify the significance of this name vis-à-vis the GAC. Fusion is the internal name of the project at Microsoft to eliminate the problems of sharing DLL code. The GAC was originally called the Fusion cache and is currently implemented within Fusion.dll.
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