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A generalized C++ wrapper around the POSIX dynamic libraries functions dlopen, dlsym, dlclose, etc.
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Libdlibxx is a generalized C++11 wrapper library around the dl functions from <dlfcn.h> to handle the loading and symbol lookup in dynamic libraries.


  • Until optional is introduced into the standard, this code relies on Boost.Optional.
  • A C++11 compiler.


This library is licensed under the FreeBSD license.


Linking to libdlibxx

To link to this library, pass the command line argument -ldlibxx.

Loading Dynamic Libraries

// Construct a DL handle with a string.
dlibxx::handle lib("");

// Given an already constructed DL handle, replace it with a new DL.
dlibxx::handle lib;

Library Loading Error Handling

If the library was loaded successfully, a call to the loaded() function will return true. Error handling code could be performed as follows after a library has been loaded.

if (!lib.loaded())
  std::cerr << lib.error() << std::endl;
  return 1;

Symbol Lookup

Symbol lookup is performed with the lookup member function. You must pass in the type of the function as the template parameter and the name of the function in the dynamic library as the function argument.

If the function was successfully loaded, then the optional when cast to bool will return true, and false otherwise. After a successful load, the function can be retrieved via a call to get().

// Get an optional<function<Signature>> to the function.
auto func_symbol = lib.lookup<void(int)>("function_name");
if (func_symbol)
  std::function<void(int)> f = func_symbol.get();
  std::cout << "Symbol lookup failed.\n";

Class Instance Creation

Due to the frequency of which dynamic libraries are used to create an instance of an abstract class satisfying some interface, a simple interface for creating objects from factory methods is provided.

If the instance could not be created, a shared_ptr containing nullptr will be returned.

struct base_type
  virtual void foo() = 0;

std::shared_ptr<base_type> p = lib.create<base_type>("factory_function");
if (p)
  std::cout << "Unable to create instance.\n";

Symbol Resolution Policy

When loading the dynamic library, it can be specified whether all symbols should be bound on opening or only when they are referenced. The default is to bind all symbols when the library is loaded (through the use of dlibxx::resolve::now), but lazy binding is also available.

It can be specified in the constructor as follows:

dlibxx::handle lib("", dlibxx::resolve::lazy);

Additionally, if you already have a handle, you can set the resolution policy for future library loads like so:

dlibxx::handle lib;


In addition to the open policy, the options available for the flag argument to dlopen are also available. They can be set with the set_options member function before opening the library by ORing the enum values together. The values available are:

dlibxx::options::none      = 0,
dlibxx::options::global    = RTLD_GLOBAL,
dlibxx::options::local     = RTLD_LOCAL,
dlibxx::options::no_delete = RTLD_NODELETE,
dlibxx::options::no_load   = RTLD_NOLOAD,
dlibxx::options::deep_bind = RTLD_DEEPBIND

(See man dlopen for information on options.)

dlibxx::handle lib;
lib.set_options(dlibxx::options::global | dlibxx::options::no_load);

Example Code

Run make and change to the examples/ directory.

Run the demo code with ./demo and when prompted enter:

  • ./
  • ./
  • ./

and observe the results.


To enable and run the unit tests you first need to ensure that you have initialized the submodules so that gtest/gmock are available:

git submodule update --init

Enable testing:

cd build

Running make will now build the unit tests as well. Run the tests with one of the following:

  • make test
  • ctest
  • ctest -V - to see the output from gtest


In order to successfully contribute code there must be corresponding test code that fully demonstrates that the contribution works as intended. See previous section on enabling and running the unit test suite.

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