DLOPEN(3)                   Linux Programmer's Manual                  DLOPEN(3)

       dlclose, dlopen, dlmopen - open and close a shared object

       #include <dlfcn.h>

       void *dlopen(const char *filename, int flags);

       int dlclose(void *handle);

       #define _GNU_SOURCE
       #include <dlfcn.h>

       void *dlmopen(Lmid_t lmid, const char *filename, int flags);

       Link with -ldl.

       The function dlopen() loads the dynamic shared object (shared library)
       file named by the null-terminated string filename and returns an opaque
       "handle" for the loaded object.  This handle is employed with other
       functions in the dlopen API, such as dlsym(3), dladdr(3), dlinfo(3), and

       If filename is NULL, then the returned handle is for the main program.
       If filename contains a slash ("/"), then it is interpreted as a (relative
       or absolute) pathname.  Otherwise, the dynamic linker searches for the
       object as follows (see ld.so(8) for further details):

       o   (ELF only) If the calling object (i.e., the shared library or
           executable from which dlopen() is called) contains a DT_RPATH tag,
           and does not contain a DT_RUNPATH tag, then the directories listed in
           the DT_RPATH tag are searched.

       o   If, at the time that the program was started, the environment
           variable LD_LIBRARY_PATH was defined to contain a colon-separated
           list of directories, then these are searched.  (As a security
           measure, this variable is ignored for set-user-ID and set-group-ID

       o   (ELF only) If the calling object contains a DT_RUNPATH tag, then the
           directories listed in that tag are searched.

       o   The cache file /etc/ld.so.cache (maintained by ldconfig(8)) is
           checked to see whether it contains an entry for filename.

       o   The directories /lib and /usr/lib are searched (in that order).

       If the object specified by filename has dependencies on other shared
       objects, then these are also automatically loaded by the dynamic linker
       using the same rules.  (This process may occur recursively, if those
       objects in turn have dependencies, and so on.)

       One of the following two values must be included in flags:

              Perform lazy binding.  Resolve symbols only as the code that
              references them is executed.  If the symbol is never referenced,
              then it is never resolved.  (Lazy binding is performed only for
              function references; references to variables are always
              immediately bound when the shared object is loaded.)  Since glibc
              2.1.1, this flag is overridden by the effect of the LD_BIND_NOW
              environment variable.

              If this value is specified, or the environment variable
              LD_BIND_NOW is set to a nonempty string, all undefined symbols in
              the shared object are resolved before dlopen() returns.  If this
              cannot be done, an error is returned.

       Zero or more of the following values may also be ORed in flags:

              The symbols defined by this shared object will be made available
              for symbol resolution of subsequently loaded shared objects.

              This is the converse of RTLD_GLOBAL, and the default if neither
              flag is specified.  Symbols defined in this shared object are not
              made available to resolve references in subsequently loaded shared

       RTLD_NODELETE (since glibc 2.2)
              Do not unload the shared object during dlclose().  Consequently,
              the object's static and global variables are not reinitialized if
              the object is reloaded with dlopen() at a later time.

       RTLD_NOLOAD (since glibc 2.2)
              Don't load the shared object.  This can be used to test if the
              object is already resident (dlopen() returns NULL if it is not, or
              the object's handle if it is resident).  This flag can also be
              used to promote the flags on a shared object that is already
              loaded.  For example, a shared object that was previously loaded
              with RTLD_LOCAL can be reopened with RTLD_NOLOAD | RTLD_GLOBAL.

       RTLD_DEEPBIND (since glibc 2.3.4)
              Place the lookup scope of the symbols in this shared object ahead
              of the global scope.  This means that a self-contained object will
              use its own symbols in preference to global symbols with the same
              name contained in objects that have already been loaded.

       If filename is NULL, then the returned handle is for the main program.
       When given to dlsym(3), this handle causes a search for a symbol in the
       main program, followed by all shared objects loaded at program startup,
       and then all shared objects loaded by dlopen() with the flag RTLD_GLOBAL.

       Symbol references in the shared object are resolved using (in order):
       symbols in the link map of objects loaded for the main program and its
       dependencies; symbols in shared objects (and their dependencies) that
       were previously opened with dlopen() using the RTLD_GLOBAL flag; and
       definitions in the shared object itself (and any dependencies that were
       loaded for that object).

       Any global symbols in the executable that were placed into its dynamic
       symbol table by ld(1) can also be used to resolve references in a
       dynamically loaded shared object.  Symbols may be placed in the dynamic
       symbol table either because the executable was linked with the flag
       "-rdynamic" (or, synonymously, "--export-dynamic"), which causes all of
       the executable's global symbols to be placed in the dynamic symbol table,
       or because ld(1) noted a dependency on a symbol in another object during
       static linking.

       If the same shared object is opened again with dlopen(), the same object
       handle is returned.  The dynamic linker maintains reference counts for
       object handles, so a dynamically loaded shared object is not deallocated
       until dlclose() has been called on it as many times as dlopen() has
       succeeded on it.  Constructors (see below) are called only when the
       object is actually loaded into memory (i.e., when the reference count
       increases to 1).

       A subsequent dlopen() call that loads the same shared object with
       RTLD_NOW may force symbol resolution for a shared object earlier loaded
       with RTLD_LAZY.  Similarly, an object that was previously opened with
       RTLD_LOCAL can be promoted to RTLD_GLOBAL in a subsequent dlopen().

       If dlopen() fails for any reason, it returns NULL.

       This function performs the same task as dlopen()—the filename and flags
       arguments, as well as the return value, are the same, except for the
       differences noted below.

       The dlmopen() function differs from dlopen() primarily in that it accepts
       an additional argument, lmid, that specifies the link-map list (also
       referred to as a namespace) in which the shared object should be loaded.
       (By comparison, dlopen() adds the dynamically loaded shared object to the
       same namespace as the shared object from which the dlopen() call is
       made.)  The Lmid_t type is an opaque handle that refers to a namespace.

       The lmid argument is either the ID of an existing namespace (which can be
       obtained using the dlinfo(3) RTLD_DI_LMID request) or one of the
       following special values:

              Load the shared object in the initial namespace (i.e., the
              application's namespace).

              Create a new namespace and load the shared object in that
              namespace.  The object must have been correctly linked to
              reference all of the other shared objects that it requires, since
              the new namespace is initially empty.

       If filename is NULL, then the only permitted value for lmid is

       The function dlclose() decrements the reference count on the dynamically
       loaded shared object referred to by handle.

       If the object's reference count drops to zero and no symbols in this
       object are required by other objects, then the object is unloaded after
       first calling any destructors defined for the object.  (Symbols in this
       object might be required in another object because this object was opened
       with the RTLD_GLOBAL flag and one of its symbols satisfied a relocation
       in another object.)

       All shared objects that were automatically loaded when dlopen() was
       invoked on the object referred to by handle are recursively closed in the
       same manner.

       A successful return from dlclose() does not guarantee that the symbols
       associated with handle are removed from the caller's address space.  In
       addition to references resulting from explicit dlopen() calls, a shared
       object may have been implicitly loaded (and reference counted) because of
       dependencies in other shared objects.  Only when all references have been
       released can the shared object be removed from the address space.

       On success, dlopen() and dlmopen() return a non-NULL handle for the
       loaded object.  On error (file could not be found, was not readable, had
       the wrong format, or caused errors during loading), these functions
       return NULL.

       On success, dlclose() returns 0; on error, it returns a nonzero value.

       Errors from these functions can be diagnosed using dlerror(3).

       dlopen() and dlclose() are present in glibc 2.0 and later.  dlmopen()
       first appeared in glibc 2.3.4.

       For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see attributes(7).

       │Interface                      Attribute     Value   │
       │dlopen(), dlmopen(), dlclose() │ Thread safety │ MT-Safe │
       POSIX.1-2001 describes dlclose() and dlopen().  The dlmopen() function is
       a GNU extension.

       extensions; the first two of these flags are also present on Solaris.

   dlmopen() and namespaces
       A link-map list defines an isolated namespace for the resolution of
       symbols by the dynamic linker.  Within a namespace, dependent shared
       objects are implicitly loaded according to the usual rules, and symbol
       references are likewise resolved according to the usual rules, but such
       resolution is confined to the definitions provided by the objects that
       have been (explicitly and implicitly) loaded into the namespace.

       The dlmopen() function permits object-load isolation—the ability to load
       a shared object in a new namespace without exposing the rest of the
       application to the symbols made available by the new object.  Note that
       the use of the RTLD_LOCAL flag is not sufficient for this purpose, since
       it prevents a shared object's symbols from being available to any other
       shared object.  In some cases, we may want to make the symbols provided
       by a dynamically loaded shared object available to (a subset of) other
       shared objects without exposing those symbols to the entire application.
       This can be achieved by using a separate namespace and the RTLD_GLOBAL

       The dlmopen() function also can be used to provide better isolation than
       the RTLD_LOCAL flag.  In particular, shared objects loaded with
       RTLD_LOCAL may be promoted to RTLD_GLOBAL if they are dependencies of
       another shared object loaded with RTLD_GLOBAL.  Thus, RTLD_LOCAL is
       insufficient to isolate a loaded shared object except in the (uncommon)
       case where one has explicit control over all shared object dependencies.

       Possible uses of dlmopen() are plugins where the author of the plugin-
       loading framework can't trust the plugin authors and does not wish any
       undefined symbols from the plugin framework to be resolved to plugin
       symbols.  Another use is to load the same object more than once.  Without
       the use of dlmopen(), this would require the creation of distinct copies
       of the shared object file.  Using dlmopen(), this can be achieved by
       loading the same shared object file into different namespaces.

       The glibc implementation supports a maximum of 16 namespaces.

   Initialization and finalization functions
       Shared objects may export functions using the
       __attribute__((constructor)) and __attribute__((destructor)) function
       attributes.  Constructor functions are executed before dlopen() returns,
       and destructor functions are executed before dlclose() returns.  A shared
       object may export multiple constructors and destructors, and priorities
       can be associated with each function to determine the order in which they
       are executed.  See the gcc info pages (under "Function attributes") for
       further information.

       An older method of (partially) achieving the same result is via the use
       of two special symbols recognized by the linker: _init and _fini.  If a
       dynamically loaded shared object exports a routine named _init(), then
       that code is executed after loading a shared object, before dlopen()
       returns.  If the shared object exports a routine named _fini(), then that
       routine is called just before the object is unloaded.  In this case, one
       must avoid linking against the system startup files, which contain
       default versions of these files; this can be done by using the gcc(1)
       -nostartfiles command-line option.

       Use of _init and _fini is now deprecated in favor of the aforementioned
       constructors and destructors, which among other advantages, permit
       multiple initialization and finalization functions to be defined.

       Since glibc 2.2.3, atexit(3) can be used to register an exit handler that
       is automatically called when a shared object is unloaded.

       These functions are part of the dlopen API, derived from SunOS.

       As at glibc 2.24, specifying the RTLD_GLOBAL flag when calling dlmopen()
       generates an error.  Furthermore, specifying RTLD_GLOBAL when calling
       dlopen() results in a program crash (SIGSEGV) if the call is made from
       any object loaded in a namespace other than the initial namespace.

       The program below loads the (glibc) math library, looks up the address of
       the cos(3) function, and prints the cosine of 2.0.  The following is an
       example of building and running the program:

           $ cc dlopen_demo.c -ldl
           $ ./a.out

   Program source

       #include <stdio.h>
       #include <stdlib.h>
       #include <dlfcn.h>
       #include <gnu/lib-names.h>  /* Defines LIBM_SO (which will be a
                                      string such as "libm.so.6") */
           void *handle;
           double (*cosine)(double);
           char *error;

           handle = dlopen(LIBM_SO, RTLD_LAZY);
           if (!handle) {
               fprintf(stderr, "%s\n", dlerror());

           dlerror();    /* Clear any existing error */

           cosine = (double (*)(double)) dlsym(handle, "cos");

           /* According to the ISO C standard, casting between function
              pointers and 'void *', as done above, produces undefined results.
              POSIX.1-2001 and POSIX.1-2008 accepted this state of affairs and
              proposed the following workaround:

                  *(void **) (&cosine) = dlsym(handle, "cos");

              This (clumsy) cast conforms with the ISO C standard and will
              avoid any compiler warnings.

              The 2013 Technical Corrigendum 1 to POSIX.1-2008 improved matters
              by requiring that conforming implementations support casting
              'void *' to a function pointer.  Nevertheless, some compilers
              (e.g., gcc with the '-pedantic' option) may complain about the
              cast used in this program. */

           error = dlerror();
           if (error != NULL) {
               fprintf(stderr, "%s\n", error);

           printf("%f\n", (*cosine)(2.0));

       ld(1), ldd(1), pldd(1), dl_iterate_phdr(3), dladdr(3), dlerror(3),
       dlinfo(3), dlsym(3), rtld-audit(7), ld.so(8), ldconfig(8)

       gcc info pages, ld info pages

       This page is part of release 5.10 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
       description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
       latest version of this page, can be found at

Linux                              2020-11-01                          DLOPEN(3)