DynaLoader(3)          Perl Programmers Reference Guide          DynaLoader(3)

       DynaLoader - Dynamically load C libraries into Perl code

           package YourPackage;
           require DynaLoader;
           @ISA = qw(... DynaLoader ...);
           bootstrap YourPackage;

           # optional method for 'global' loading
           sub dl_load_flags { 0x01 }

       This document defines a standard generic interface to the dynamic link-
       ing mechanisms available on many platforms.  Its primary purpose is to
       implement automatic dynamic loading of Perl modules.

       This document serves as both a specification for anyone wishing to
       implement the DynaLoader for a new platform and as a guide for anyone
       wishing to use the DynaLoader directly in an application.

       The DynaLoader is designed to be a very simple high-level interface
       that is sufficiently general to cover the requirements of SunOS, HP-UX,
       NeXT, Linux, VMS and other platforms.

       It is also hoped that the interface will cover the needs of OS/2, NT
       etc and also allow pseudo-dynamic linking (using "ld -A" at runtime).

       It must be stressed that the DynaLoader, by itself, is practically use-
       less for accessing non-Perl libraries because it provides almost no
       Perl-to-C 'glue'.  There is, for example, no mechanism for calling a C
       library function or supplying arguments.  A C::DynaLib module is avail-
       able from CPAN sites which performs that function for some common sys-
       tem types.  And since the year 2000, there's also Inline::C, a module
       that allows you to write Perl subroutines in C.  Also available from
       your local CPAN site.

       DynaLoader Interface Summary

                                                         Implemented in:
         bootstrap($modulename)                               Perl
         @filepaths = dl_findfile(@names)                     Perl
         $flags = $modulename->dl_load_flags                  Perl
         $symref  = dl_find_symbol_anywhere($symbol)          Perl

         $libref  = dl_load_file($filename, $flags)           C
         $status  = dl_unload_file($libref)                   C
         $symref  = dl_find_symbol($libref, $symbol)          C
         @symbols = dl_undef_symbols()                        C
         dl_install_xsub($name, $symref [, $filename])        C
         $message = dl_error                                  C

           The standard/default list of directories in which dl_findfile()
           will search for libraries etc.  Directories are searched in order:
           $dl_library_path[0], [1], ... etc

           @dl_library_path is initialised to hold the list of 'normal' direc-
           tories (/usr/lib, etc) determined by Configure ($Config{'libpth'}).
           This should ensure portability across a wide range of platforms.

           @dl_library_path should also be initialised with any other directo-
           ries that can be determined from the environment at runtime (such
           as LD_LIBRARY_PATH for SunOS).

           After initialisation @dl_library_path can be manipulated by an
           application using push and unshift before calling dl_findfile().
           Unshift can be used to add directories to the front of the search
           order either to save search time or to override libraries with the
           same name in the 'normal' directories.

           The load function that dl_load_file() calls may require an absolute
           pathname.  The dl_findfile() function and @dl_library_path can be
           used to search for and return the absolute pathname for the
           library/object that you wish to load.

           A list of additional libraries or other shared objects which can be
           used to resolve any undefined symbols that might be generated by a
           later call to load_file().

           This is only required on some platforms which do not handle depen-
           dent libraries automatically.  For example the Socket Perl exten-
           sion library (auto/Socket/ contains references to many
           socket functions which need to be resolved when it's loaded.  Most
           platforms will automatically know where to find the 'dependent'
           library (e.g., /usr/lib/  A few platforms need to be
           told the location of the dependent library explicitly.  Use
           @dl_resolve_using for this.

           Example usage:

               @dl_resolve_using = dl_findfile('-lsocket');

           A list of one or more symbol names that are in the library/object
           file to be dynamically loaded.  This is only required on some plat-

           An array of the handles returned by successful calls to
           dl_load_file(), made by bootstrap, in the order in which they were
           loaded.  Can be used with dl_find_symbol() to look for a symbol in
           any of the loaded files.

           An array of module (package) names that have been bootstrap'ed.

           An array of file names for the shared objects that were loaded.


               $message = dl_error();

           Error message text from the last failed DynaLoader function.  Note
           that, similar to errno in unix, a successful function call does not
           reset this message.

           Implementations should detect the error as soon as it occurs in any
           of the other functions and save the corresponding message for later
           retrieval.  This will avoid problems on some platforms (such as
           SunOS) where the error message is very temporary (e.g., dlerror()).

           Internal debugging messages are enabled when $dl_debug is set true.
           Currently setting $dl_debug only affects the Perl side of the
           DynaLoader.  These messages should help an application developer to
           resolve any DynaLoader usage problems.

           $dl_debug is set to $ENV{'PERL_DL_DEBUG'} if defined.

           For the DynaLoader developer/porter there is a similar debugging
           variable added to the C code (see dlutils.c) and enabled if Perl
           was built with the -DDEBUGGING flag.  This can also be set via the
           PERL_DL_DEBUG environment variable.  Set to 1 for minimal informa-
           tion or higher for more.


               @filepaths = dl_findfile(@names)

           Determine the full paths (including file suffix) of one or more
           loadable files given their generic names and optionally one or more
           directories.  Searches directories in @dl_library_path by default
           and returns an empty list if no files were found.

           Names can be specified in a variety of platform independent forms.
           Any names in the form -lname are converted into libname.*, where .*
           is an appropriate suffix for the platform.

           If a name does not already have a suitable prefix and/or suffix
           then the corresponding file will be searched for by trying combina-
           tions of prefix and suffix appropriate to the platform: "$name.o",
           "lib$name.*"  and "$name".

           If any directories are included in @names they are searched before
           @dl_library_path.  Directories may be specified as -Ldir.  Any
           other names are treated as filenames to be searched for.

           Using arguments of the form "-Ldir" and "-lname" is recommended.


               @dl_resolve_using = dl_findfile(qw(-L/usr/5lib -lposix));


               $filepath = dl_expandspec($spec)

           Some unusual systems, such as VMS, require special filename han-
           dling in order to deal with symbolic names for files (i.e., VMS's
           Logical Names).

           To support these systems a dl_expandspec() function can be imple-
           mented either in the dl_*.xs file or code can be added to the
           autoloadable dl_expandspec() function in  See
  for more information.


               $libref = dl_load_file($filename, $flags)

           Dynamically load $filename, which must be the path to a shared
           object or library.  An opaque 'library reference' is returned as a
           handle for the loaded object.  Returns undef on error.

           The $flags argument to alters dl_load_file behaviour.  Assigned

            0x01  make symbols available for linking later dl_load_file's.
                  (only known to work on Solaris 2 using dlopen(RTLD_GLOBAL))
                  (ignored under VMS; this is a normal part of image linking)

           (On systems that provide a handle for the loaded object such as
           SunOS and HPUX, $libref will be that handle.  On other systems
           $libref will typically be $filename or a pointer to a buffer con-
           taining $filename.  The application should not examine or alter
           $libref in any way.)

           This is the function that does the real work.  It should use the
           current values of @dl_require_symbols and @dl_resolve_using if

               SunOS: dlopen($filename)
               HP-UX: shl_load($filename)
               Linux: dld_create_reference(@dl_require_symbols); dld_link($filename)
               NeXT:  rld_load($filename, @dl_resolve_using)
               VMS:   lib$find_image_symbol($filename,$dl_require_symbols[0])

           (The dlopen() function is also used by Solaris and some versions of
           Linux, and is a common choice when providing a "wrapper" on other
           mechanisms as is done in the OS/2 port.)


               $status = dl_unload_file($libref)

           Dynamically unload $libref, which must be an opaque 'library refer-
           ence' as returned from dl_load_file.  Returns one on success and
           zero on failure.

           This function is optional and may not necessarily be provided on
           all platforms.  If it is defined, it is called automatically when
           the interpreter exits for every shared object or library loaded by
           DynaLoader::bootstrap.  All such library references are stored in
           @dl_librefs by DynaLoader::Bootstrap as it loads the libraries.
           The files are unloaded in last-in, first-out order.

           This unloading is usually necessary when embedding a shared-object
           perl (e.g.  one configured with -Duseshrplib) within a larger
           application, and the perl interpreter is created and destroyed sev-
           eral times within the lifetime of the application.  In this case it
           is possible that the system dynamic linker will unload and then
           subsequently reload the shared libperl without relocating any ref-
           erences to it from any files DynaLoaded by the previous incarnation
           of the interpreter.  As a result, any shared objects opened by
           DynaLoader may point to a now invalid 'ghost' of the libperl shared
           object, causing apparently random memory corruption and crashes.
           This behaviour is most commonly seen when using Apache and mod_perl
           built with the APXS mechanism.

               SunOS: dlclose($libref)
               HP-UX: ???
               Linux: ???
               NeXT:  ???
               VMS:   ???

           (The dlclose() function is also used by Solaris and some versions
           of Linux, and is a common choice when providing a "wrapper" on
           other mechanisms as is done in the OS/2 port.)


               $flags = dl_load_flags $modulename;

           Designed to be a method call, and to be overridden by a derived
           class (i.e. a class which has DynaLoader in its @ISA).  The defini-
           tion in DynaLoader itself returns 0, which produces standard behav-
           ior from dl_load_file().


               $symref = dl_find_symbol($libref, $symbol)

           Return the address of the symbol $symbol or "undef" if not found.
           If the target system has separate functions to search for symbols
           of different types then dl_find_symbol() should search for function
           symbols first and then other types.

           The exact manner in which the address is returned in $symref is not
           currently defined.  The only initial requirement is that $symref
           can be passed to, and understood by, dl_install_xsub().

               SunOS: dlsym($libref, $symbol)
               HP-UX: shl_findsym($libref, $symbol)
               Linux: dld_get_func($symbol) and/or dld_get_symbol($symbol)
               NeXT:  rld_lookup("_$symbol")
               VMS:   lib$find_image_symbol($libref,$symbol)


               $symref = dl_find_symbol_anywhere($symbol)

           Applies dl_find_symbol() to the members of @dl_librefs and returns
           the first match found.


               @symbols = dl_undef_symbols()

           Return a list of symbol names which remain undefined after
           load_file().  Returns "()" if not known.  Don't worry if your plat-
           form does not provide a mechanism for this.  Most do not need it
           and hence do not provide it, they just return an empty list.


               dl_install_xsub($perl_name, $symref [, $filename])

           Create a new Perl external subroutine named $perl_name using $sym-
           ref as a pointer to the function which implements the routine.
           This is simply a direct call to newXSUB().  Returns a reference to
           the installed function.

           The $filename parameter is used by Perl to identify the source file
           for the function if required by die(), caller() or the debugger.
           If $filename is not defined then "DynaLoader" will be used.



           This is the normal entry point for automatic dynamic loading in

           It performs the following actions:

           *       locates an auto/$module directory by searching @INC

           *       uses dl_findfile() to determine the filename to load

           *       sets @dl_require_symbols to "("boot_$module")"

           *       executes an auto/$module/$ file if it exists (typ-
                   ically used to add to @dl_resolve_using any files which are
                   required to load the module on the current platform)

           *       calls dl_load_flags() to determine how to load the file.

           *       calls dl_load_file() to load the file

           *       calls dl_undef_symbols() and warns if any symbols are unde-

           *       calls dl_find_symbol() for "boot_$module"

           *       calls dl_install_xsub() to install it as "${module}::boot-

           *       calls &{"${module}::bootstrap"} to bootstrap the module
                   (actually it uses the function reference returned by
                   dl_install_xsub for speed)

       Tim Bunce, 11 August 1994.

       This interface is based on the work and comments of (in no particular
       order): Larry Wall, Robert Sanders, Dean Roehrich, Jeff Okamoto, Anno
       Siegel, Thomas Neumann, Paul Marquess, Charles Bailey, myself and oth-

       Larry Wall designed the elegant inherited bootstrap mechanism and
       implemented the first Perl 5 dynamic loader using it.

       Solaris global loading added by Nick Ing-Simmons with design/coding
       assistance from Tim Bunce, January 1996.

perl v5.8.6                       2001-09-21                     DynaLoader(3)