ltrace – Used to Trace the Process of Calling Library Functions

Ltrace is a command-line utility that is used to trace the process of calling library functions. It is used to intercept and record the dynamic library calls that are made by an application or a process. Ltrace is a powerful tool for debugging and analyzing how an application is interacting with the system libraries. It can be used to identify the root cause of a problem, optimize code performance, and improve the overall quality of an application.


The syntax for using ltrace is as follows:

ltrace [options] [command [arguments]]

Here, options are the various flags that can be used to customize the output of ltrace. command is the application or process that you want to trace, and arguments are the arguments that you want to pass to the command.

For example, to trace the ls command, you can use the following command:

ltrace ls

This will print out all the library calls that are made by the ls command. You can also pass arguments to the command, like this:

ltrace ls -l

This will trace the ls -l command and print out the library calls that are made.

Ltrace can also be used to trace shared library calls made by dynamically linked applications. For example, to trace the wget command and its shared library calls, you can use the following command:

ltrace -f wget

Here, the -f option is used to trace child processes, which is necessary for tracing shared library calls.


The following table lists the available options for the ltrace command:

Option Description
-a Append output to a file
-c Count the number of times each library call is made
-e Trace only the specified library calls
-f Trace child processes
-h Display help
-i Ignore library calls that return an error
-o Write output to a file
-p Trace an existing process by PID
-s Limit the length of strings printed
-S Trace system calls
-t Trace only the specified library calls by name
-u Trace only library calls made by specified user
-v Verbose output

Troubleshooting tips

Here are some tips for troubleshooting common issues with the ltrace command:

  • If you are not seeing any output, make sure that the command you are tracing is actually making library calls. Some commands may not make any library calls, in which case ltrace will not print anything.
  • If you are getting an error message like “Cannot attach to process” when using the -p option, make sure that you have permission to trace the process. You may need to run ltrace as root or use the ptrace_scope kernel parameter to allow non-root users to trace processes.
  • If you are getting incomplete output, try increasing the buffer size using the -s option. Alternatively, you can redirect the output to a file using the -o option and then inspect the file using a text editor.


  • Ltrace can be used in conjunction with other debugging tools like gdb and strace to get a deeper understanding of how an application is behaving.
  • Ltrace is not a performance profiling tool. If you want to measure the performance of an application, you should use a tool like perf instead.
  • Ltrace can be used to trace both 32-bit and 64-bit applications, but you need to make sure that you are using the correct version of ltrace for your system.