Container Class / Library for C

Does anyone know of any C container libraries? I am looking for something which gives standard implementations of linked lists, arrays, hash tables etc, much in the same way as the C++ STL does. Key concerns are:

  1. Client code should be able to create containers for multiple different data types without modifying the library.
  2. The interface for creating and using the containers should be intuitive.


I just came across SGLIB while looking for a C implementation of a map/dictionary container. Unfortunately, no map but it seems to include the containers you asked about. I have no idea how good it is.

Chuck Falconer has a decent hash library written in C that includes a C++ interface, click on on the webpage to download.

Ben Pfaff has very nice and extremely well-documented binary and balanced tree library, GNU libavl, that implements most major tree structures including binary search trees, AVL trees, red-black trees and threaded versions of each.

libavl is licensed under the LGPL (as of version 2.0.3), hashlib is GPL.

I'm not sure what you are looking for as far as arrays and linked lists go as the former is supported directly by the language and the latter is generally trivial enough to implement without warranting a library.

Sglib is an excellent generic data structures library. The library currently provides generic implementation for:

  • sorting arrays
  • linked lists
  • sorted linked lists
  • double linked lists
  • red-black trees
  • hashed containers

It's very fast. Faster that glib. It's inspired by the Standard Template Library. Download here

Another solution is Attractive Chaos sotware. C macro library: kbtree.h: efficient B-tree library in C. khash.h: fast and light-weighted hash table library in C. kvec.h: simple vector container in C.

Kulesh Shanmugasundaram presents the generic Linux Kernel Linked List and a generic hash table based in the Linux Kernel Linked List.

Sglib and Attractive Chaos sotware and Linux Kernel Linked List are C macro libraries. Using void* to implement generic containers in C may be inefficient. C macros mimic C++ templates and are as efficient as a C++ template.

How about ccl? This is a container library for C. Maybe it's best fit for you. You can see Enjoy it.

I've been using a library I've been growing from Hanson's "C Interface and Implementations" book. His source is downloadable at

cii book website

Everything is an Abstract Data Type. There is List, Set, Table (map).

#include "queue.h" to get access to the implementations of singly-linked lists, singly-linked tail queues, lists and tail queues.

I found a generic cache for storing arbitrary objects in memory by D. J. Bernstein ( to be both clean, simple and super fast. Look up cache.h and cache.c in djdns tarball.

Some of the ones that I have heard of (but never used) are

  • Glib
  • iMatix Standard Function Library
  • disparate elements from the Linux kernel headers (e.g. list)

This seems to cover most of the containers and some algorithms. There is also no licensing, all the headers contain - 'code may be used without restriction.'

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