Suppose make fails with a Link error: -lX11: No such
file or directory, even after xmkmf has been invoked. This may mean
that the Imake file was not set up properly. Check the first
part of the Makefile for lines such as:
The -L and -I switches tell the compiler and linker
where to look for the library and include files,
respectively. In this example, the X11 libraries should be in
the /usr/X11/lib directory, and the X11 include files
should be in the /usr/X11/include/X11 directory. If this is
incorrect for your machine, make the necessary changes to the
Makefile and try the make again.
Undefined references to math library functions, such as the following:
/tmp/cca011551.o(.text+0x11): undefined reference to `cos'
The fix for this is to explicitly link in the math library,
by adding an -lm to the LIB or LIBS flags in
the Makefile (see previous example).
Yet another thing to try if xmkmf fails is the following script:
make -DUseInstalled -I/usr/X386/lib/X11/config
This is a sort of bare bones equivalent of xmkmf.
In a very few cases, running ldconfig as root
may be the solution:
# ldconfig updates the shared library symbolic links. This
may not be necessary .
Some Makefiles use unrecognized aliases for libraries
present in your system. For example, the build may require
libX11.so.6, but there exists no such file or link in
/usr/X11R6/lib. Yet, there is a libX11.so.6.1. The
solution is to do a ln -s /usr/X11R6/lib/libX11.so.6.1
/usr/X11R6/lib/libX11.so.6, as root. This may need to be followed
by a ldconfig.
Sometimes the source needs the older release X11R5 libraries to
build. If you have the R5 libs in /usr/X11R6/lib (you were given the
option of having them when first installing Linux), then you need only
ensure that you have the links that the software needs to build. The
R5 libs are named libX11.so.3.1.0,
libXaw.so.3.1.0, and libXt.so.3.1.0. You generally
need links, such as libX11.so.3 -> libX11.so.3.1.0. Possibly
the software will also need a link of the form libX11.so ->
libX11.so.3.1.0. Of course, to create a "missing" link, use the
command ln -s libX11.so.3.1.0 libX11.so, as root.
Some packages will require you to install updated versions of one or
more libraries. For example, the 4.x versions of the StarOffice
suite from StarDivision GmbH were notorious for needing a libc
version 5.4.4 or greater. Even the more recent StarOffice 5.0
will not run after installation with the new glibc 2.1 libs.
Fortunately, the newer StarOffice 5.1 solves these problems.
If running an older version of StarOffice you would, as
root, need to copy one or more libraries to the appropriate
directories, remove the old libraries, then reset the symbolic links
(check the latest version of the StarOffice miniHOWTO for more
information on this).
Caution: Exercise extreme care in this, as you can render your
system nonfunctional if you screw up.
You can usually find the latest updated libraries at
An installed Perl or shell script gives you a No such
file or directory error message. In this case, check the file
permissions to make sure the file is executable and check the file
header to ascertain whether the shell or program invoked by the script
is in the place specified.
For example, the scrip may begin with:
If Perl is in fact installed in your /usr/bin
directory instead of the /usr/local/bin one, then the script
will not run. There are two methods of correcting this. The
script file header may be changed to #!/usr/bin/perl, or
a symbolic link to the correct directory may be added, ln -s
Some X11 software requires the Motif libraries to build.
The standard Linux distributions do not have the Motif libraries
installed, and at present Motif costs an extra $100-$200 (though the
Lesstif also works
in many cases). If you need Motif to build a certain package, but lack
the Motif libraries, it may be possible to obtain statically linked
binaries. Static linking incorporates the library routines in the
binaries themselves. This results in much larger binary files, but the
code will run on systems lacking the libraries.
When a package requires libraries not present on your system for the
build, it will result in link errors (undefined reference
errors). The libraries may be expensive proprietary ones or difficult
to find for sone other reason. In that case, obtaining a statically
linked binary either from the author of the package or from a Linux
user group may be the easiest to implement fix.
Running a configure script creates a strange Makefile, one
seemingly unrelated to the package you are attempting to build. This
means the wrong configure ran, one found somewhere else in your
path. Always invoke configure as ./configure to
Most Linux distributions have changed over to the libc 6 / glibc
2 libraries from the older libc 5. Precompiled binaries
that worked with the older library may bomb if you have upgraded your
library. The solution is to either recompile the applications from the
source or to obtain newer precompiled binaries. If you are in the process
of upgrading your system to libc 6 and are experiencing problems,
refer to Eric Green's Glibc 2 HOWTO.
Note that there are some minor incompatibilities between glibc
versions, so a binary built with glibc 2.1 may not work with
glibc 2.0, and vice versa.
Sometimes it is necessary to remove the -ansi option from the
compile flags in the Makefile. This enables gcc's extra, non-ANSI features,
and allows building packages that require these extensions. (Thanks to Sebastien
Blondeel for pointing this out.)
Some programs require having setuid root, in order to run
with root privileges. The command to implement this is
chmod u+s filename, as root (note that the program
must already be owned by root). This has the effect of setting
the setuid bit in the file permissions. This issue comes up
when the program accesses the system hardware, such as a modem or CD ROM
drive, or when the SVGA libs are invoked from console mode, as in one
particularly notorious emulation package. If a program works when run by
root, but gives access denied error messages to an ordinary
user, suspect this as the cause.
A program with setuid as root may pose a security risk to your
system. The program runs with root privileges and thus has the potential
for doing significant damage. Make certain that you know what the
program does, by looking at the source if possible, before setting the
You may wish to examine the Makefile to make certain that
the best compilation options for your system are invoked. For example,
setting the -O2 flag chooses the highest level of optimization
and the -fomit-frame-pointer flag results in a smaller binary
(though debugging will then be disabled). Do not play around with
this unless you know what you are doing, and in any case, not until
after a trial build works.
In my experience, perhaps 25\% of applications build "right out
of the box". Another 50\% or so can be "persuaded" to build with
an effort ranging from trivial to herculean. That still means a
significant number of packages will not build no matter what. Even
then, the Intel ELF and/or a.out binaries for
these might possibly be found at
Sunsite or the
Red Hat and
Debian have extensive archives of
prepackaged binaries of most of the popular Linux software. Perhaps
the author of the software can supply the binaries compiled for your
particular flavor of machine.
Note that if you obtain precompiled binaries, you will need to check
for compatibility with your system:
The binaries must run on your hardware (i.e., Intel
The binaries must be compatible with your kernel (i.e., a.out or
Your libraries must be up to date.
Your system must have the appropriate installation utility (rpm or