My situation. uname -a gives Linux computer2 4.4.0-62-generic #83~14.04.1-Ubuntu SMP Wed Jan 18 18:10:30 UTC 2017 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

I am trying to install HDF5 1.8.18 with GNU make 3.81 invoking gcc 6.3.0. I have successfully installed this gcc 6.3.0 alongside the version 4.8.4 that is shipped with the Ubuntu distribution.

My gcc 6.3.0 lives in /opt/gcc/6_3_0/. I use the following script to configure and pass on the commands, libraries and headers in non-standard directories:

export FC='/opt/gcc/6_3_0/bin/gfortran-6.3.0'   # probably unnecessary
export CC='/opt/gcc/6_3_0/bin/gcc-6.3.0'  
export CXX='/opt/gcc/6_3_0/bin/g++-6.3.0' 
export CPP='/opt/gcc/6_3_0/bin/cpp-6.3.0'
export LDFLAGS='-L/opt/gcc/6_3_0/lib -L/opt/gcc/6_3_0/lib64' 
export CPPFLAGS='-I/opt/gcc/6_3_0/include -I/opt/gcc/6_3_0/lib/gcc/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu/6.3.0/include'

./configure \
--prefix=${insdir} \
--with-zlib=${zlibdir}/include,${zlibdir}/lib \
--enable-fortran \

where ${insdir} is an installation directory, ${zlibdir} is where zlib lives and the other switches are standards as per the installation guidelines

The configure step goes well. The make step fails with the error:

make[2]: Entering directory `<the source directory>/hdf5-1.8.18/c++/src'
CXX      H5Exception.lo
H5Exception.cpp:16:18: fatal error: string: No such file or directory
#include <string>
compilation terminated

If I understand it correctly, some header file is missing, and of a basic nature.

  • Where should I get it from?
  • Is there any flaw in the names and values of the environment variables?

StackExchange contains a host of posts on this error, but they seem to be mostly related to coding exercises. My aim is not to edit codes, rather to compile source codes successfully with my vanilla gcc 6.3.0.

Updated question

In the light of the helpful comments and Thomas Dickey's answer below, it appears that a promising avenue is to install matching versions of libstdc++ and gcc. I have searched around in the GCC website and it appears that one can configure gcc with the following switch


Specify that runtime libraries should be installed in the compiler specific subdirectory (libdir/gcc) rather than the usual places. In addition, libstdc++'s include files will be installed into libdir unless you overruled it by using --with-gxx-include-dir=dirname. Using this option is particularly useful if you intend to use several versions of GCC in parallel. This is currently supported by libgfortran, libstdc++, and libobjc.

  • Is this pointing in the right direction?
  • Where would I be supposed to find the libstdc++'s include files that are distributed alongside the source of gcc, if this is switch is not used?
  • 1
    Are you sure you can chain -I include directives in your CPPFLAGS like that (i.e. comma separated)? I've always thought you need a separate -I for each path. FWIW you might consider using gcc's CPATH instead - which does take a list of (colon separated) paths. Feb 19, 2017 at 17:13
  • 1
    The -I flag takes exactly one directory. If you have multiple include directories, specify each of them separately with -I.
    – Kusalananda
    Feb 19, 2017 at 17:16
  • Thx @Kusalananda @steeldriver -- I have edited the line in the post and in my script alike. This does not solve the issue. Also adding -I/usr/include to gain access to the header file string.h does not help. Feb 19, 2017 at 18:01

2 Answers 2


That's looking for a C++ header file, normally part of a development package such as libstdc++ (with a version and "-dev" or "-devel" as part of the package name).

For instance in Debian (where Ubuntu gets most of its packages), I have a "libstdc++6-4.6-dev" on my Debian 7 machine, which has this file:


The C header files have a .h suffix; C++ as a rule does not (though on some systems you may see .hh).

When you configured the add-on compiler, it used settings (see your logs...) which told it where to expect to find libraries. You'll probably have to build your own libstdc++ for compatibility with the newer compiler. Again, you'll have to set the --prefix option when configuring, so the compiler and library work together.

Addressing a followup: if your compiler is looking in /usr/local, then you could work around this by amending your CPPFLAGS variable, adding /usr/include (and possibly /usr/include/c++/4.8, etc.), though there's also the library path in LDFLAGS to consider). To see the pathnames used by your libstdc++ package, use

dpkg -L $(dpkg -l | awk '{print $2}' |grep -E 'libstdc++.*dev')
  • I see that that a header file string.h is in /usr/include/. This looks like the missing element. The switch --with-local-prefix in my configure of gcc 6.3.0 aims to find local header files in /usr/local/include rather (as per default). Hence, logic that it does not find it. However, even if I add /usr/local/ to the CPPFLAGS for the HDF5 compilation, I end up with the same error. Is this behaviour expected? Feb 19, 2017 at 17:23
  • 2
    @XavierStuvw string.h would be a C header file; your issue appears to concern the C++ header file string Feb 19, 2017 at 18:04
  • @steeldriver I stand corrected also in the light of Thomas Dickey's note. In my computer the header file string lives in the directories /usr/include/c++/4.4 and /usr/include/c++/4.8. Either way setting the CPPFLAG to search for string is no plain sailing since it asks for more and more files. I am editing my questions to adjust to the insights gained so far, Feb 19, 2017 at 19:29
  • @ThomasDickey Would you please consider the updated question in my post? It seems that there are ways (hints) to combine the installation of gcc and of libstdc++ in one go. The avenue of working around with CPPFLAGS looks like a quagmire. Feb 19, 2017 at 19:46
  • That looks promising, but it's been a while since I built those - good luck :-) Feb 19, 2017 at 21:52

What follows is one avenue to a solution. I am indebted to Thomas Dickey answer for having put me in the right direction.


The problem is that the custom-installed compiler gcc 6.3.0 cannot find the files of the libstdc++ family contained within /usr/include/ in the Ubuntu distribution.


At point of installation, the configure file for gcc 6.3.0 itself silently followed the default specification as for the target directory where to find local (previously installed) header files. This default is /usr/local/include/. See https://gcc.gnu.org/install/configure.html for details.


The compiler reinstalled with the ./configure --with-local-prefix=/usr has created a new gcc that is able to fetch the required files where Ubuntu has put them. No further adjustement of the CPPFLAGS is needed with respect to what has been shown in the question. However, the setting --with-local-prefix=/usr is discouraged (see quote in https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/348868/132913), so this is a workaround.


The empirical test for this strategy is that the make of HDF 1.8.18 proceeds where it once got stranded. All tests in the make check are passed successfully.


I have note explored (yet) the other avenue of installing a fresh libstdc++ library that serves specifically the custom install of gcc (switch --enable-version-specific-runtime-libs). I have raised this possibility in the question frame above in search of cues. That might well be a more robust solution. The thread remains open for the moment. Thanks for contributing/editing

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .