Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Where to Find Header Files for GCC

Ubuntu 13

The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is a popular compiler system that supports several programming languages. While using GCC, you may need to locate header files for your projects. This article will guide you on where to find these header files for GCC.

Quick Answer

To find header files for GCC, you can check the default include directories such as /usr/include and /usr/local/include. You can also use the GCC command gcc -print-prog-name=cc1plus -v to display the include directories it looks for. Additionally, you can use the locate command or the apt-file command to search for specific header files.

Understanding Header Files

Before we delve into the process of locating header files, it’s important to understand what they are and their role in programming. Header files, typically denoted with a .h extension, contain function declarations, macro definitions, and other references needed in a C or C++ program. They provide a way to share declarations among multiple source files.

Default Include Directories

GCC has default directories where it searches for header files. The most common directories are /usr/include and /usr/local/include. You can navigate to these directories using a file explorer or terminal and check if the header files you need are present.

Using GCC Command to Find Include Directories

You can use the GCC command itself to find out which directories it searches for header files. Open your terminal and run the following command:

gcc -print-prog-name=cc1plus -v

This command asks GCC which C++ preprocessor it is using and then displays the include directories it looks for. The -v option makes the command verbose, providing more detailed output.

If you’re working with C, you can use a similar command:

gcc -print-prog-name=cc1 -v

Using the locate Command

The locate command is a powerful tool for finding files in your system. To use this command, open your terminal and type:

locate -b '\math.h'

The -b option tells the locate command to match only the basename (the file name without the path) against the specified pattern. In this case, it will search for the exact file name math.h.

If you’re familiar with regular expressions, you can use the -r option to search for files matching a specific pattern. For example:

locate -r \/math.h$

This command will match any file that ends with /math.h.

Remember to update the system’s database of file locations using sudo updatedb before using the locate command.

Using the apt-file Command

If you’re looking for header files in packages that are not installed, you can use the apt-file command. This command searches for files in packages available in your Linux distribution’s repositories.

To use apt-file, you first need to install it using the following command:

sudo apt-get install apt-file

Then, you can search for a specific header file:

apt-file search math.h

This command will return a list of all packages that include the math.h header file.


Locating header files for GCC can be done in several ways, from checking the default include directories to using commands like gcc, locate, and apt-file. Understanding these methods will help you navigate your system more effectively and make your programming tasks easier. Remember to update your system’s database of file locations regularly to ensure that your file searches are accurate.

What are some common header file locations for GCC?

Some common header file locations for GCC include /usr/include and /usr/local/include. These directories are often searched by GCC by default when looking for header files.

How can I use the GCC command to find include directories?

You can use the GCC command with the -print-prog-name option to find include directories. For C++, run gcc -print-prog-name=cc1plus -v in the terminal, and for C, run gcc -print-prog-name=cc1 -v. The command will display the include directories that GCC searches for header files.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *