How do I list the symbols in a .so file


How do I list the symbols being exported from a .so file? If possible, I'd also like to know their source (e.g. if they are pulled in from a static library).

I'm using gcc 4.0.2, if that makes a difference.

This question is tagged with c++ c gcc symbols name-mangling

~ Asked on 2008-08-29 16:57:47

11 Answers


The standard tool for listing symbols is nm, you can use it simply like this:

nm -gD

If you want to see symbols of a C++ library, add the "-C" option which demangle the symbols (it's far more readable demangled).

nm -gDC

If your .so file is in elf format, you have two options:

Either objdump (-C is also useful for demangling C++):

$ objdump -TC     file format elf64-x86-64

0000000000002010 l    d  .init  0000000000000000              .init
0000000000000000      DF *UND*  0000000000000000  GLIBC_2.2.5 free
0000000000000000      DF *UND*  0000000000000000  GLIBC_2.2.5 __errno_location
0000000000000000  w   D  *UND*  0000000000000000              _ITM_deregisterTMCloneTable

Or use readelf:

$ readelf -Ws
Symbol table '.dynsym' contains 112 entries:
   Num:    Value          Size Type    Bind   Vis      Ndx Name
     0: 0000000000000000     0 NOTYPE  LOCAL  DEFAULT  UND
     1: 0000000000002010     0 SECTION LOCAL  DEFAULT   10
     2: 0000000000000000     0 FUNC    GLOBAL DEFAULT  UND [email protected]_2.2.5 (14)
     3: 0000000000000000     0 FUNC    GLOBAL DEFAULT  UND [email protected]_2.2.5 (14)
     4: 0000000000000000     0 NOTYPE  WEAK   DEFAULT  UND _ITM_deregisterTMCloneTable

~ Answered on 2008-08-29 17:21:08


If your .so file is in elf format, you can use readelf program to extract symbol information from the binary. This command will give you the symbol table:

readelf -Ws /usr/lib/

You only should extract those that are defined in this .so file, not in the libraries referenced by it. Seventh column should contain a number in this case. You can extract it by using a simple regex:

readelf -Ws /usr/lib/ | grep '^\([[:space:]]\+[^[:space:]]\+\)\{6\}[[:space:]]\+[[:digit:]]\+'

or, as proposed by Caspin,:

readelf -Ws /usr/lib/ | awk '{print $8}';

~ Answered on 2009-10-25 10:39:36


objdump -TC /usr/lib/

~ Answered on 2010-01-15 18:25:47


For shared libraries the -D switch was necessary to see symbols in my Linux

nm -D

and for static library as reported by others

nm -g libNAME.a

~ Answered on 2013-02-06 19:54:44


I kept wondering why -fvisibility=hidden and #pragma GCC visibility did not seem to have any influence, as all the symbols were always visible with nm - until I found this post that pointed me to readelf and objdump, which made me realize that there seem to actually be two symbol tables:

  • The one you can list with nm
  • The one you can list with readelf and objdump

I think the former contains debugging symbols that can be stripped with strip or the -s switch that you can give to the linker or the install command. And even if nm does not list anything anymore, your exported symbols are still exported because they are in the ELF "dynamic symbol table", which is the latter.

~ Answered on 2010-09-07 08:55:02


For C++ .so files, the ultimate nm command is nm --demangle --dynamic --defined-only --extern-only <>

# nm --demangle --dynamic --defined-only --extern-only /usr/lib64/ | grep work | grep add
0000000000049500 T proton::work_queue::add(proton::internal::v03::work)
0000000000049580 T proton::work_queue::add(proton::void_function0&)
000000000002e7b0 W proton::work_queue::impl::add_void(proton::internal::v03::work)
000000000002b1f0 T proton::container::impl::add_work_queue()
000000000002dc50 T proton::container::impl::container_work_queue::add(proton::internal::v03::work)
000000000002db60 T proton::container::impl::connection_work_queue::add(proton::internal::v03::work)


~ Answered on 2018-01-06 00:05:35


For Android .so files, the NDK toolchain comes with the required tools mentioned in the other answers: readelf, objdump and nm.

~ Answered on 2014-11-04 15:33:32


Try adding -l to the nm flags in order to get the source of each symbol. If the library is compiled with debugging info (gcc -g) this should be the source file and line number. As Konrad said, the object file / static library is probably unknown at this point.

~ Answered on 2008-08-29 21:22:13


You can use the nm -g tool from the binutils toolchain. However, their source is not always readily available. and I'm not actually even sure that this information can always be retrieved. Perhaps objcopy reveals further information.

/EDIT: The tool's name is of course nm. The flag -g is used to show only exported symbols.

~ Answered on 2008-08-29 17:07:11


nm -g list the extern variable, which is not necessary exported symbol. Any non-static file scope variable(in C) are all extern variable.

nm -D will list the symbol in the dynamic table, which you can find it's address by dlsym.

nm --version

GNU nm 20061020

~ Answered on 2010-11-11 07:00:56


If you just want to know if there are symbols present you can use

objdump -h /path/to/object

or to list the debug info

objdump -g /path/to/object

~ Answered on 2019-02-08 11:30:53

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