I've just come across a little problem with ld which I just can't explain. Let's say I have compiled a library in my home directory and installed it all under ~/root. The shared library file can be found at ~/root/usr/local/lib/libmylib.so.

Because ~/root/usr/local/lib is not in the linker's search path, I set LD_LIBRARY_PATH as I always do:


And check that the library is available with:

$ ls $LD_LIBRARY_PATH/libmylib.so

Now, if I run:

$ ld -lmylib --verbose

The final lines should include something like:

attempt to open /home/me/root/usr/local/lib/libmylib.so succeeded
-lmylib (/home/me/root/usr/local/lib/libmylib.so)

Except in my case, they don't. ld simply does not perform any lookup under /home/me/root. The contents of LD_LIBRARY_PATH simply never appear in the output, which suggests that ld is shamelessly ignoring the variable (and actually, my directory never appears in SEARCH_DIR earlier in the output).

However, if I run:

$ ld -L $LD_LIBRARY_PATH -lmylib --verbose

I do get the above lines and everything goes smoothly, which means there's nothing wrong with the library or the installation path.

Is there any circumstance in which ld ignores LD_LIBRARY_PATH ? I've checked env and I couldn't find any other linker-related variable (RPATH, LIBRARY_PATH, LD_RUN_PATH, which were all tested). Configuration under /etc/ld.so.* does not appear to do anything except register some (other) directories. The machine runs Scientific Linux 7.4, gcc 6.4 and ld 2.25.1. The library in question is libxml++-3.0.


As far as I know ld ignores LD_LIBRARY_PATH, at least for libraries specified on its command line; LD_LIBRARY_PATH isn’t listed in the environment variables which affect it. It does refer to LD_LIBRARY_PATH when looking for libraries which are needed by other libraries, in native builds, emulating the behaviour of ld.so.

  • Shouldn't LIBRARY_PATH have done something then? I have the same setup on another machine, and ld does explore the contents of LD_LIBRARY_PATH there. man ld also appears to concur with that: 5. For a native linker, search the contents of the environment variable "LD_LIBRARY_PATH". – John WH Smith Jun 11 '18 at 9:45
  • LIBRARY_PATH isn’t referenced either. The only variables read from the environment are LD_RUN_PATH, LD_LIBRARY_PATH, COLLECT_NO_DEMANGLE, GNUTARGET, and LDEMULATION. However LD_LIBRARY_PATH is used to find libraries which are referenced indirectly; that’s what your quote from the manpage is referring to. – Stephen Kitt Jun 11 '18 at 9:56

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