Clang++ missing C++ header?

(Hopefully someone will find this useful, since I was not able to find any other clear resource online).


In our Linux Ubuntu 18.04 server, I kept getting this error when trying to compile our C++ project with clang++:

dettraceSystemCall.cpp:17:10: fatal error: 'limits' file not found
#include <limits>

Looking online I was not able to find much help. Googling "clang missing c++ headers" returned the only relevant search clang doesn't see basic headers.

None of these answers were helpful to me... Compiling with g++ works, so I do have the correct C++ headers installed.


Taking the failing command from make and running it manually, I could reproduce the issue: clang++ -Wall -c -o dettraceSystemCall.o dettraceSystemCall.cpp

I added the -E (call only the preprocessor, for those that don't know, the C and C++ preprocessor is responsible for expanding macros and finding headers) and -v (verbose) flags.

This prints out a lot of input, but shorted to the relevant parts:

clang version 6.0.0-1ubuntu2 (tags/RELEASE_600/final)
Target: x86_64-pc-linux-gnu
Thread model: posix
InstalledDir: /usr/bin
Found candidate GCC installation: /usr/bin/../lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/7
Found candidate GCC installation: /usr/bin/../lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/7.3.0
Found candidate GCC installation: /usr/bin/../lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/8
Found candidate GCC installation: /usr/lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/7
Found candidate GCC installation: /usr/lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/7.3.0
Found candidate GCC installation: /usr/lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/8
Selected GCC installation: /usr/bin/../lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/8
#include "..." search starts here:
#include <...> search starts here:
End of search list.

So, the server has several gcc installations: 7, 7.3, and 8. Out of those clang++ is picking gcc version 8: Selected GCC installation: /usr/bin/../lib/gcc/x86_64-linux-gnu/8.

Since g++ works I know the C++ headers have to be somewhere? Where are they located?

$> find /usr -name "iostream"

Interesting... Only g++-7 seems to have the C++ header files, but it's picking gcc-8 as the installation to use! Somehow, the server has g++-8 installed but not it's header files? I used sudo apt install g++-8 to install all g++-8 headers.


$> find /usr -name "iostream"

And clang++ works :)


It seems the cause of the issue is that clang++ does not come with it's own headers or runtime for C or C++. Instead it relies on other projects to providing these (usually gcc/g++ for most Linux systems, or an alternative implementation like libc++). So you will often see online answers point to installing libc++ to solve this issue.

(Thanks to this blog for pointing me in the right direction!)