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4.14. Options for Directory Search

These options specify directories to search for header files, for libraries and for parts of the compiler:


Add the directory dir to the head of the list of directories to be searched for header files. This can be used to override a system header file, substituting your own version, since these directories are searched before the system header file directories. However, you should not use this option to add directories that contain vendor-supplied system header files (use -isystem for that). If you use more than one -I option, the directories are scanned in left-to-right order; the standard system directories come after.

If a standard system include directory, or a directory specified with -isystem, is also specified with -I, the -I option will be ignored. The directory will still be searched but as a system directory at its normal position in the system include chain. This is to ensure that GCC's procedure to fix buggy system headers and the ordering for the include_next directive are not inadvertently changed. If you really need to change the search order for system directories, use the -nostdinc and/or -isystem options.


Any directories you specify with -I options before the -I- option are searched only for the case of #include "file"; they are not searched for #include <file>.

If additional directories are specified with -I options after the -I-, these directories are searched for all #include directives. (Ordinarily all -I directories are used this way.)

In addition, the -I- option inhibits the use of the current directory (where the current input file came from) as the first search directory for #include "file". There is no way to override this effect of -I-. With -I. you can specify searching the directory which was current when the compiler was invoked. That is not exactly the same as what the preprocessor does by default, but it is often satisfactory.

-I- does not inhibit the use of the standard system directories for header files. Thus, -I- and -nostdinc are independent.


Add directory dir to the list of directories to be searched for -l.


This option specifies where to find the executables, libraries, include files, and data files of the compiler itself.

The compiler driver program runs one or more of the subprograms cpp, cc1, as and ld. It tries prefix as a prefix for each program it tries to run, both with and without machine/version/ (Section 4.16 Specifying Target Machine and Compiler Version).

For each subprogram to be run, the compiler driver first tries the -B prefix, if any. If that name is not found, or if -B was not specified, the driver tries two standard prefixes, which are /usr/lib/gcc/ and /usr/local/lib/gcc/. If neither of those results in a file name that is found, the unmodified program name is searched for using the directories specified in your PATH environment variable.

The compiler will check to see if the path provided by the -B refers to a directory, and if necessary it will add a directory separator character at the end of the path.

-B prefixes that effectively specify directory names also apply to libraries in the linker, because the compiler translates these options into -L options for the linker. They also apply to includes files in the preprocessor, because the compiler translates these options into -isystem options for the preprocessor. In this case, the compiler appends include to the prefix.

The run-time support file libgcc.a can also be searched for using the -B prefix, if needed. If it is not found there, the two standard prefixes above are tried, and that is all. The file is left out of the link if it is not found by those means.

Another way to specify a prefix much like the -B prefix is to use the environment variable GCC_EXEC_PREFIX. Section 4.19 Environment Variables Affecting GCC.

As a special kludge, if the path provided by -B is [dir/]stageN/, where N is a number in the range 0 to 9, then it will be replaced by [dir/]include. This is to help with boot-strapping the compiler.


Process file after the compiler reads in the standard specs file, in order to override the defaults that the gcc driver program uses when determining what switches to pass to cc1, cc1plus, as, ld, etc. More than one -specs=file can be specified on the command line, and they are processed in order, from left to right.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire