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LIBC(7)                    Linux Programmer's Manual                   LIBC(7)

       libc - Overview of standard C libraries on Linux

       The  term  "libc"  is  commonly used as a shorthand for the "standard C library", a
       library of standard functions that can be used by all C programs (and sometimes  by
       programs in other languages).  Because of some history (see below), use of the term
       "libc" to refer to the standard C library is somewhat ambiguous on Linux.

       By  far  the  most  widely  used  C  library  on  Linux  is  the  GNU   C   Library
       (,  often  referred  to  as glibc.  This is the C
       library that is nowadays used in all major Linux distributions.  It is also  the  C
       library whose details are documented in the relevant pages of the man-pages project
       (primarily in Section 3 of the manual).  Documentation of glibc is  also  available
       in the glibc manual, available via the command info libc.  Release 1.0 of glibc was
       made in September 1992.  (There were earlier 0.x releases.)  The next major release
       of glibc was 2.0, at the beginning of 1997.

       The pathname /lib/ (or something similar) is normally a symbolic link that
       points to the location of the glibc library, and executing this pathname will cause
       glibc to display various information about the version installed on your system.

   Linux libc
       In  the  early  to mid 1990s, there was for a while Linux libc, a fork of glibc 1.x
       created by Linux developers who felt that glibc development at  the  time  was  not
       sufficing  for  the  needs  of Linux.  Often, this library was referred to (ambigu-
       ously) as just "libc".  Linux libc released major versions 2, 3, 4, and 5 (as  well
       as  many  minor versions of those releases).  For a while, Linux libc was the stan-
       dard C library in many Linux distributions.  However, notwithstanding the  original
       motivations  of  the  Linux libc effort, by the time glibc 2.0 was released, it was
       clearly superior to Linux libc, and all major Linux  distributions  that  had  been
       using  Linux  libc soon switched back to glibc.  (Since this switch occurred over a
       decade ago, man-pages no longer takes care to document Linux libc details.   Never-
       theless,  the  history  is visible in vestiges of information about Linux libc that
       remain in some manual pages, in particular, references to libc4 and libc5.)

   Other C libraries
       There are various other less widely used C libraries for  Linux.   These  libraries
       are  generally  smaller than glibc, both in terms of features and memory footprint,
       and often intended for building small binaries, perhaps targeted at development for
       embedded  Linux  systems.  Among such libraries are uClibc (
       and dietlibc (  Details of these libraries are gener-
       ally not covered by the man-pages project.

       syscalls(2), feature_test_macros(7), man-pages(7), standards(7)

       This page is part of release 3.22 of the Linux man-pages project.  A description of
       the project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at  http://www.ker-

Linux                             2009-01-13                           LIBC(7)

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