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hardcoded shared library path


I am trying to understand what causes the search path for 
a shared library to be hardcoded in to an dynamically linked executable.
Also how can one avoid this, so that a user may run the executable with
say processor optimised libraries, in a non-standard location.
Any pointer to information would be much appreciated. 
Please note this is for a libc6 environment, in fact it is to prevent 
the libc6 path itself from being hardcoded in to an executable.
I am aware that one may use -rpath to specify an alternative search path
but this does not solve my problem of letting the user place the library
at any location.

B Thomas

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