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Linked error in C

Programming requires the ability to handle problems, and while using the C programming language, it's vital to recognize and fix the many kinds of errors that could arise. The "linked error" is one frequent sort of error, which appears when a program fails to locate or link the necessary functions or libraries during the compilation or linking stages. In this blog, we will study linked errors in C to better understand and resolve such mistakes. We will also go through their causes, offer pertinent code samples, and look at the output.

Linked errors happen during the compilation process' linking stage. The final executable file is produced by linking the various source files with libraries and external functions after the compiler has successfully compiled each source file. Commonly, linked errors arise when the linker is unable to locate the required symbols or functions, leading to unresolved references.

Origins of Linked Errors

In C programs, several conditions can result in connected mistakes. Typical reasons include:

Missing library or header files: The linker cannot locate the necessary symbols if the appropriate library or header files are missing or improperly included.

Erroneous function signatures: Inconsistent or erroneous function declarations may result in references that cannot be resolved during linking.

Compilation order: Linked errors may be impacted by the order in which source files are built. Linked errors might happen if dependencies are not addressed in the proper sequence.

How to Fix Linked Errors

It's crucial to take a methodical approach to locating and fixing the problem when a linked error occurs in your C program. Here are some actions you may take to troubleshoot associated errors successfully:

Look at the error message: Pay particular attention to any error messages the compiler or linker may have produced. It frequently includes important details regarding the error's root cause, such as missing symbols or undefined references.

Verify whether any libraries or headers are missing: Make sure your program contains all required header files and libraries. Make sure the file names and paths are correct by checking them twice. Find any missing files and correctly install them.

Check the definitions and declarations of functions: Make sure that your code's function declarations correspond to their definitions. Unresolved references can occur during linking because of mismatched function signatures. Take note of the return types, argument types, and parameter counts.

Verify the sequence of compilation: Make careful to build your program's source files in the right sequence if it has many files. Make sure any dependencies between the files are handled correctly, if there are any.

Use the appropriate linker flags: To link external libraries or functions successfully, you might need to supply additional linker flags depending on your development environment. For information on the proper flags to use, go to the documentation or resources made available by your compiler or development environment.

Linked Error Methods

There are various linked error methods in C. Some of the linked error methods are as follows:

Missing of Header File


fatal error: stdio.h: No such file or directory


In this example, the program fails to locate the required header file "stdio.h" during the compilation stage. The file is either missing or cannot be found, and the compiler produces a catastrophic error.

Missing library


undefined reference to `foobar'


In this example, the program has the essential header file "stdio.h", it nevertheless tries to use the undefined method "foobar()". As a result of failing to locate the appropriate definition for the "foobar" function, the linker produces a "undefined reference" error.

Incorrect Library Name


undefined reference to `fopen'


In this example, the program tries to open a file using the fopen function from the common I/O library. However, the linker will produce a "undefined reference" warning for the fopen function if the program is not linked with the right library.

Incorrect Function Signature


undefined reference to `printMessage'


In the prototype declaration, the program declares the method printMessage with an invalid function signature. However, the declaration does not match the actual definition of the function. Therefore, the printMessage function encounters a "undefined reference" error from the linker.

Missing Library Linking


/usr/bin/ld: cannot find -lm
collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status


In this example, the program uses the math library to access the mathematical functions, which is normally linked with the -lm option during the compilation process. However, the linker gives an error stating that it cannot locate the library (-lm) if the program is not linked with the math library.

Duplicate Symbol Definitions


duplicate symbol 'printMessage'


In this instance, the program has two identical definitions for the printMessage() method. As a result, the linker is unable to decide which definition to employ during the linking step, leading to a "duplicate symbol" error.

It is essential to comprehend linked errors in C for effective error management and troubleshooting during the development process. When the linker is unable to locate the required symbols or functions, unresolved references result, which is known as a linked error. Programmers may solve these problems and write reliable, error-free C programs by understanding the root causes of connected faults and using organized debugging techniques.

Missing header or library files, wrong function signatures, and compilation-order problems are a few major reasons for linked failures. Reviewing error messages the compiler or linker produces attentively is crucial for debugging linked issues. These alerts frequently provide important details about the precise origin of the error, assisting programmers in more precisely identifying and fixing the problem.

Programmers should ensure the code contains all required library or header files to avoid linked errors. Verifying the paths and file names again will help prevent linked errors caused by missing files. It is also essential to check function declarations and definitions since mismatched or erroneous function signatures might result in unresolved references when linking. Programmers should also be aware of the order in which source files are compiled to ensure that dependencies are handled properly.

Another crucial component in fixing linked issues is the use of appropriate linker flags. Programmers may need to supply additional linker flags to properly link external libraries or functions depending on the development environment. The right flags to use can be chosen by consulting the documentation or resources made available for the compiler or development environment.

When analyzing linked issues, debugging tools like gdb may be quite helpful. Programmers can learn more about the way their programs are executed by walking through the code, looking at variables, and looking at memory. These technologies make it easier to locate related mistakes precisely and comprehend the context in which they occur.

Programmers should also take into account other elements that could cause related issues. For instance, when utilizing external C libraries, name mangling in C++ might result in linked problems. When doing so, the extern "C" directive asks the C++ compiler to name some functions according to the C naming rules. Keeping library versions constant and checking compiler settings are crucial, as linked problems can also be caused by compiler flag inconsistencies and version incompatibilities across libraries.


Linked errors are a frequent problem in C programming that needs careful attention and debugging, to sum up. Programmers may successfully locate and fix related errors by comprehending their causes, going over error messages, checking the code, using debugging tools, and taking other aspects into account. In addition to producing error-free programs, debugging linked errors improves problem-solving abilities and develops comprehension of the nuances of the C programming language.

Keep in mind that running across linked errors is a common occurrence throughout programming. It is crucial to approach them positively and see them as chances for learning. Programmers can master handling connected faults and get the capacity to create dependable and strong C programs with practice and expertise.

Programmers may approach linked errors confidently, efficiently troubleshoot them, and eventually produce high-quality C programs that satisfy the required functionality and reliability criteria by using the information and methods.

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