Static linking definition
In software development, static linking is the practice of including all of the program’s libraries required into a single, standalone executable file. All the necessary information from external libraries is pulled into the program at compile-time, which means that the program doesn’t depend on these library files when it runs.
See also: dynamic library, executable file
Static linking vs dynamic linking
Static linking stands in contrast to dynamic linking — the practice of having programs make use of external libraries that are loaded into memory upon launching the software.
Dynamic linking is much more compact because multiple programs can share the same library, but it is more vulnerable to disruption than static linking. For example, if you accidentally delete a shared library when you uninstall a program, all other apps that were depending on the library will exhibit problems.
A statically linked executable is also more portable than one that relies on dynamic linking — for example, you can run it on different systems without worrying about library compatibility. Static linking also provides a more predictable runtime environment because you know which library versions will be used.
Finally, statically linked executables are much easier to distribute — you don’t need to include separate library files or worry about library paths. This is particularly important in the context of mass online distribution, where the people downloading the file might not have the necessary technical expertise to pair it with the right libraries.