Registered: Jul 2004
Creating a shared library is easy. First, create the object files that will go into the shared library using the gcc -fPIC or -fpic flag. The -fPIC and -fpic options enable ``position independent code'' generation, a requirement for shared libraries; see below for the differences. You pass the soname using the -Wl gcc option. The -Wl option passes options along to the linker (in this case the -soname linker option) - the commas after -Wl are not a typo, and you must not include unescaped whitespace in the option. Then create the shared library using this format:
gcc -shared -Wl,-soname,your_soname -o library_name file_list library_list
Here's an example, which creates two object files (a.o and b.o) and then creates a shared library that contains both of them. Note that this compilation includes debugging information (-g) and will generate warnings (-Wall), which aren't required for shared libraries but are recommended. The compilation generates object files (using -c), and includes the required -fPIC option:
gcc -fPIC -g -c -Wall a.c
gcc -fPIC -g -c -Wall b.c
gcc -shared -Wl,-soname,libmystuff.so.1 \
-o libmystuff.so.1.0.1 a.o b.o -lc
TO INSTALL AND USE LIBRARY
Once you've created a shared library, you'll want to install it. The simple approach is simply to copy the library into one of the standard directories (e.g., /usr/lib) and run ldconfig(8).
First, you'll need to create the shared libraries somewhere. Then, you'll need to set up the necessary symbolic links, in particular a link from a soname to the real name (as well as from a versionless soname, that is, a soname that ends in ``.so'' for users who don't specify a version at all). The simplest approach is to run:
ldconfig -n directory_with_shared_libraries
Finally, when you compile your programs, you'll need to tell the linker about any static and shared libraries that you're using. Use the -l and -L options for this.
If you can't or don't want to install a library in a standard place (e.g., you don't have the right to modify /usr/lib), then you'll need to change your approach. In that case, you'll need to install it somewhere, and then give your program enough information so the program can find the library... and there are several ways to do that. You can use gcc's -L flag in simple cases. You can use the ``rpath'' approach (described above), particularly if you only have a specific program to use the library being placed in a ``non-standard'' place. You can also use environment variables to control things. In particular, you can set LD_LIBRARY_PATH, which is a colon-separated list of directories in which to search for shared libraries before the usual places. If you're using bash, you could invoke my_program this way using:
If you want to override just a few selected functions, you can do this by creating an overriding object file and setting LD_PRELOAD; the functions in this object file will override just those functions (leaving others as they were).
Usually you can update libraries without concern; if there was an API change, the library creator is supposed to change the soname. That way, multiple libraries can be on a single system, and the right one is selected for each program. However, if a program breaks on an update to a library that kept the same soname, you can force it to use the older library version by copying the old library back somewhere, renaming the program (say to the old name plus ``.orig''), and then create a small ``wrapper'' script that resets the library to use and calls the real (renamed) program. You could place the old library in its own special area, if you like, though the numbering conventions do permit multiple versions to live in the same directory. The wrapper script could look something like this:
exec /usr/bin/my_program.orig $*
Please don't depend on this when you write your own programs; try to make sure that your libraries are either backwards-compatible or that you've incremented the version number in the soname every time you make an incompatible change. This is just an ``emergency'' approach to deal with worst-case problems.
You can see the list of the shared libraries used by a program using ldd(1). So, for example, you can see the shared libraries used by ls by typing:
Generally you'll see a list of the sonames being depended on, along with the directory that those names resolve to. In practically all cases you'll have at least two dependencies:
/lib/ld-linux.so.N (where N is 1 or more, usually at least 2). This is the library that loads all other libraries.
libc.so.N (where N is 6 or more). This is the C library. Even other languages tend to use the C library (at least to implement their own libraries), so most programs at least include this one.
Beware: do not run ldd on a program you don't trust. As is clearly stated in the ldd(1) manual, ldd works by (in certain cases) by setting a special environment variable (for ELF objects, LD_TRACE_LOADED_OBJECTS) and then executing the program. It may be possible for an untrusted program to force the ldd user to run arbitrary code (instead of simply showing the ldd information). So, for safety's sake, don't use ldd on programs you don't trust to execute.