How to resolve a libtinfo.so error when launching ENVI 5.6/IDL 8.8 on Linux

Due to development build changes in IDL 8.8.0 and ENVI 5.6.0, you may encounter a missing library error when launching the software on some newer distributions of Linux.

The error will look like this when launching IDL or ENVI+IDL, complaining about a missing libtinfo.so library:

$ /usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/bin.linux.x86_64/idl

/usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/bin.linux.x86_64/idl: error while loading shared libraries: libtinfo.so.5: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory


If you do get this error, don’t fear as this library likely does exist on your Linux system, but it may be a newer version.

To begin resolving this issue, first locate the file libtinfo.so.

For example, on Ubuntu 20.04, this file is located here and is at version 6:


On CentOS systems, the file will be here:


The work-around for this issue is to create a symbolic link representing version 5, pointing to whatever version your system already has installed. Continuing the Ubuntu 20.04 example, this link can be created as follows (elevated permissions required):


$ sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libtinfo.so.6 /usr/local/harris/idl88/bin/bin.linux.x86_64/libtinfo.so.5


After creating this symbolic link, IDL will work as expected.


NOTE: If the libtinfo.so library does not exist on your system already, you can install it using the following commands (elevated permissions required).

For Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt install libtinfo5


For CentOS:

$ sudo yum install ncurses-compat-libs



Created by BCNA 2/4/2020. Reviewed by JU 9/28/2020.


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