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Finding C++ Libraries in Ubuntu

Ubuntu 19

In the world of programming, libraries play a crucial role. They provide pre-written code to perform common tasks, thus saving developers time and effort. This article will guide you on how to find C++ libraries in Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution. We will cover different methods, including using the Software Center and command-line tools.

Quick Answer

To find C++ libraries in Ubuntu, you can use the Ubuntu Software Center to browse and install libraries. Alternatively, you can use command-line tools like updatedb, locate, and ldconfig to search for installed libraries on your system.

Understanding Libraries in Ubuntu

In Ubuntu, libraries are typically installed in the /usr/lib directory, while the header files are located in the /usr/include directory. Library files have a .so extension, while the corresponding header files have a .h extension.

Using the Software Center

One of the easiest ways to find installed libraries is through the Ubuntu Software Center. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Software Center.
  2. Navigate to the Developer Tools section.
  3. Select Libraries.

This will display a list of installed libraries that you can use in your projects.

Using Command Line Tools

For those who prefer using the terminal, there are command-line tools that can help you find libraries.

The updatedb and locate Commands

The updatedb command is used to update the file database, which is a list of files on your system. This command needs to be run with sudo privileges. The syntax is as follows:

sudo updatedb

Once the database is updated, you can use the locate command to search for the library you’re interested in. For example, to search for a library named libpcl, you would use:

locate libpcl

This will return a list of all files and directories that contain libpcl in their name. The library you’re looking for is likely to be located in the /usr/lib directory.

The ldconfig Command

The ldconfig command can also be used to find libraries. This command creates the necessary links and cache for the most recent shared libraries found in the directories specified in the /etc/ file, in the trusted directories (/lib and /usr/lib), and in the directories listed in the LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable.

To list all the libraries known to ldconfig, use the -p option:

ldconfig -p

This will display a list of all the shared libraries known to the system.

Adding Libraries to Your Project

When adding libraries to your C++ project, you typically need to add the library files (.so files) rather than the individual header files. This is important to keep in mind when using tools like qmake in Qt Creator.


Finding and using libraries in Ubuntu is a straightforward process once you know where to look and which tools to use. Whether you prefer a graphical interface like the Software Center or command-line tools like updatedb, locate, and ldconfig, Ubuntu provides several ways to manage your libraries.

Remember to always check the documentation for any library you’re using. This will provide valuable information on how to properly use the library in your projects. Good luck with your programming journey!

Where can I find the Ubuntu Software Center?

The Ubuntu Software Center can be found in the Applications menu or by searching for "Software Center" in the Ubuntu Dash.

How do I update the file database using the `updatedb` command?

To update the file database, open the terminal and run the command sudo updatedb. You will need to enter your password when prompted.

How can I search for a specific library using the `locate` command?

To search for a specific library using the locate command, open the terminal and run the command locate <library_name>. Replace <library_name> with the name of the library you are looking for.

How do I list all the shared libraries known to `ldconfig`?

To list all the shared libraries known to ldconfig, open the terminal and run the command ldconfig -p.

Can I add individual header files to my C++ project instead of library files?

In most cases, you need to add the library files (.so files) rather than individual header files to your C++ project. Header files alone are not sufficient for linking and executing the library code.

Where can I find documentation for a specific library?

Documentation for a specific library can usually be found on the library’s official website or through online resources such as developer forums, documentation repositories, or programming communities. It is always recommended to consult the official documentation for accurate and detailed information on using a library.

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