Linker and Libraries Guide

Shared Objects With Dependencies

Although most of the examples presented in this chapter so far have shown how shared object dependencies are maintained in dynamic executables, it is quite common for shared objects to have their own dependencies (this was introduced in "Shared Object Processing").

In "Directories Searched by the Runtime Linker", the search rules used by the runtime linker to locate shared object dependencies are covered. If a shared object does not reside in the default directory /usr/lib (for 32-bit objects), or /usr/lib/64 (for 64-bit objects), then the runtime linker must explicitly be told where to look. The preferred mechanism of indicating any requirement of this kind is to record a runpath in the object that has the dependencies by using the link-editor's -R option. For example:

$ cc -o -G -K pic bar.c
$ cc -o -G -K pic foo.c -R/home/me/lib -L. -lbar
$ dump -Lv

[INDEX] Tag      Value
[1]     NEEDED
[2]     RPATH    /home/me/lib

Here, the shared object has a dependency on, which is expected to reside in the directory /home/me/lib at runtime or, failing that, in the default location of /usr/lib.

It is the responsibility of the shared object to specify any runpath required to locate its dependencies. Any runpath specified in the dynamic executable will only be used to locate the dependencies of the dynamic executable; it will not be used to locate any dependencies of the shared objects.

However, the environment variable LD_LIBRARY_PATH has a more global scope, and any pathnames specified using this variable will be used by the runtime linker to search for any shared object dependencies. Although useful as a temporary mechanism of influencing the runtime linker's search path, the use of this environment variable is strongly discouraged in production software (see "Directories Searched by the Runtime Linker" for a more extensive discussion).