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Dynamic Library Linking

This section describes NSPR's programming interface to load, unload and resolve symbols in dynamic libraries. It also provides a method by which to condition symbols of statically linked code so that to other clients it appears as though they are dynamically loaded.

Library Linking Types

These data types are defined for dynamic library linking:

Library Linking Functions

The library linking functions are:

Finding Symbols Defined in the Main Executable Program

PR_LoadLibrary cannot open a handle that references the main executable program. (This is admittedly an omission that should be fixed.) However, it is possible to look up symbols defined in the main executable program as follows.

PRLibrary *lib;
void *funcPtr;

funcPtr = PR_FindSymbolAndLibrary("FunctionName", &lib);

When PR_FindSymbolAndLibrary returns, funcPtr is the value of the function pointer you want to look up, and the variable lib references the main executable program. You can then call PR_FindSymbol on lib to look up other symbols defined in the main program. Remember to call PR_UnloadLibrary(lib) to close the library handle when you are done.

Platform Notes

To use the dynamic library loading functions on some platforms, certain environment variables must be set at run time, and you may need to link your executable programs using special linker options.

This section summarizes these platform idiosyncrasies. For more information, consult the man pages for ld and dlopen (or shl_load on HP-UX) for Unix, and the LoadLibrary documentation for Win32.

Dynamic Library Search Path

The dynamic library search path is the list of directories in which to look for a dynamic library. Each platform has its own standard directories in which to look for dynamic libraries, plus a customizable list of directories specified by an environment variable.

  • On most Unix systems, this environment variable is LD_LIBRARY_PATH. These systems typically use dlopen to load a dynamic library.
  • HP-UX uses shl_load to load dynamic libraries, and the environment variable specifying the dynamic library search path is SHLIB_PATH. Moreover, the executable program must be linked with the +s option so that it will search for shared libraries in the directories specified by SHLIB_PATH at run time. Alternatively, you can enable the +s option as a postprocessing step using the chatr tool. For example, link your executable program a.out without the +s option, then execute the following:
chatr +s enable a.out
  • On Rhapsody, the environment variable is DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH.
  • On Win32, the environment variable is PATH. The same search path is used to search for executable programs and DLLs.

Exporting Symbols from the Main Executable Program

On some systems, symbols defined in the main executable program are not exported by default. On HP-UX, you must link the executable program with the -E linker option in order to export all symbols in the main program to shared libraries. If you use the GNU compilers (on any platform), you must also link the executable program with the -E option.