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When an assembly is only referenced by an assembly-level custom attribute - such as
[assembly: MyAttribute (typeof (MyTest))]
that assembly is not copied into the .app even when linking is disabled.
Created attachment 14552 [details]
> [assembly: Preserve (typeof (MyTest))]
^ works for the linker (even if it's not enabled in your test case).
Now custom attributes do not encode type references (nor assembly references) in assemblies (only in the CA metadata). So I guess that's the problem you're hitting.
note: mtouch walks all assemblies references to find what assemblies are required to be copied into the .app.
Fixed in maccore/master 352e32ba786e13dce8d391b5d9ac4afb433f858a