What does “collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status” mean?

I see the error collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status very often. For example, I was executing the following snippet of code:

void main() {
  char i;

  printf("ENTER i");


  switch(i) {
    case 1:
    case 2:
    case 3:

and I got this:

main.c:(.text+0x33): undefined reference to `clrscr'                       
collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status 

What does it mean?

5 Answers

The ld returned 1 exit status error is the consequence of previous errors. In your example there is an earlier error – undefined reference to 'clrscr' – and this is the real one. The exit status error just signals that the linking step in the build process encountered some errors. Normally exit status 0 means success, and exit status > 0 means errors.

When you build your program, multiple tools may be run as separate steps to create the final executable. In your case one of those tools is ld, which first reports the error it found (clrscr reference missing), and then it returns the exit status. Since the exit status is > 0, it means an error and is reported.

In many cases tools return as the exit status the number of errors they encountered. So if ld tool finds two errors, its exit status would be 2.

In your situation you got a reference to the missing symbols. But in some situations, ld will not provide error information.

If you want to expand the information provided by ld, just add the following parameters to your $(LDFLAGS)


clrscr is not standard C function. According to internet, it used to be a thing in old Borland C.
Is clrscr(); a function in C++?

Try running task manager to determine if your program is still running.

If it is running then stop it and run it again. the [Error] ld returned 1 exit status will not come back

Include: #include<stdlib.h>

and use System("cls") instead of clrscr()

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