The GNU C Library


Table of Contents


@dircategory GNU libraries @direntry * Libc: (libc). C library.

@shorttitlepage The GNU C Library Reference Manual The GNU C Library

Reference Manual

Sandra Loosemore with Richard M. Stallman, Roland McGrath, Andrew Oram, and Ulrich Drepper

Edition 0.07 DRAFT

last updated 4 Oct 1996

for version 2.00 Beta Copyright (C) 1993, '94, '95, '96, '97 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Published by the Free Software Foundation
59 Temple Place -- Suite 330,
Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA
Printed copies are available for $50 each.
ISBN 1-882114-53-1

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided also that the section entitled "GNU Library General Public License" is included exactly as in the original, and provided that the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a permission notice identical to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this manual into another language, under the above conditions for modified versions, except that the text of the translation of the section entitled "GNU Library General Public License" must be approved for accuracy by the Foundation.

Introduction

The C language provides no built-in facilities for performing such common operations as input/output, memory management, string manipulation, and the like. Instead, these facilities are defined in a standard library, which you compile and link with your programs.

The GNU C library, described in this document, defines all of the library functions that are specified by the ISO C standard, as well as additional features specific to POSIX and other derivatives of the Unix operating system, and extensions specific to the GNU system.

The purpose of this manual is to tell you how to use the facilities of the GNU library. We have mentioned which features belong to which standards to help you identify things that are potentially nonportable to other systems. But the emphasis in this manual is not on strict portability.

Getting Started

This manual is written with the assumption that you are at least somewhat familiar with the C programming language and basic programming concepts. Specifically, familiarity with ISO standard C (see section ISO C), rather than "traditional" pre-ISO C dialects, is assumed.

The GNU C library includes several header files, each of which provides definitions and declarations for a group of related facilities; this information is used by the C compiler when processing your program. For example, the header file `stdio.h' declares facilities for performing input and output, and the header file `string.h' declares string processing utilities. The organization of this manual generally follows the same division as the header files.

If you are reading this manual for the first time, you should read all of the introductory material and skim the remaining chapters. There are a lot of functions in the GNU C library and it's not realistic to expect that you will be able to remember exactly how to use each and every one of them. It's more important to become generally familiar with the kinds of facilities that the library provides, so that when you are writing your programs you can recognize when to make use of library functions, and where in this manual you can find more specific information about them.

Standards and Portability

This section discusses the various standards and other sources that the GNU C library is based upon. These sources include the ISO C and POSIX standards, and the System V and Berkeley Unix implementations.

The primary focus of this manual is to tell you how to make effective use of the GNU library facilities. But if you are concerned about making your programs compatible with these standards, or portable to operating systems other than GNU, this can affect how you use the library. This section gives you an overview of these standards, so that you will know what they are when they are mentioned in other parts of the manual.

See section Summary of Library Facilities, for an alphabetical list of the functions and other symbols provided by the library. This list also states which standards each function or symbol comes from.

ISO C

The GNU C library is compatible with the C standard adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI): American National Standard X3.159-1989---"ANSI C" and later by the International Standardization Organization (ISO): ISO/IEC 9899:1990, "Programming languages--C". We here refer to the standard as ISO C since this is the more general standard in respect of ratification. The header files and library facilities that make up the GNU library are a superset of those specified by the ISO C standard.

If you are concerned about strict adherence to the ISO C standard, you should use the `-ansi' option when you compile your programs with the GNU C compiler. This tells the compiler to define only ISO standard features from the library header files, unless you explicitly ask for additional features. See section Feature Test Macros, for information on how to do this.

Being able to restrict the library to include only ISO C features is important because ISO C puts limitations on what names can be defined by the library implementation, and the GNU extensions don't fit these limitations. See section Reserved Names, for more information about these restrictions.

This manual does not attempt to give you complete details on the differences between ISO C and older dialects. It gives advice on how to write programs to work portably under multiple C dialects, but does not aim for completeness.

POSIX (The Portable Operating System Interface)

The GNU library is also compatible with the IEEE POSIX family of standards, known more formally as the Portable Operating System Interface for Computer Environments. POSIX is derived mostly from various versions of the Unix operating system.

The library facilities specified by the POSIX standards are a superset of those required by ISO C; POSIX specifies additional features for ISO C functions, as well as specifying new additional functions. In general, the additional requirements and functionality defined by the POSIX standards are aimed at providing lower-level support for a particular kind of operating system environment, rather than general programming language support which can run in many diverse operating system environments.

The GNU C library implements all of the functions specified in IEEE Std 1003.1-1990, the POSIX System Application Program Interface, commonly referred to as POSIX.1. The primary extensions to the ISO C facilities specified by this standard include file system interface primitives (see section File System Interface), device-specific terminal control functions (see section Low-Level Terminal Interface), and process control functions (see section Processes).

Some facilities from IEEE Std 1003.2-1992, the POSIX Shell and Utilities standard (POSIX.2) are also implemented in the GNU library. These include utilities for dealing with regular expressions and other pattern matching facilities (see section Pattern Matching).

Berkeley Unix

The GNU C library defines facilities from some versions of Unix which are not formally standardized, specifically from the 4.2 BSD, 4.3 BSD, and 4.4 BSD Unix systems (also known as Berkeley Unix) and from SunOS (a popular 4.2 BSD derivative that includes some Unix System V functionality). These systems support most of the ISO C and POSIX facilities, and 4.4 BSD and newer releases of SunOS in fact support them all.

The BSD facilities include symbolic links (see section Symbolic Links), the select function (see section Waiting for Input or Output), the BSD signal functions (see section BSD Signal Handling), and sockets (see section Sockets).

SVID (The System V Interface Description)

The System V Interface Description (SVID) is a document describing the AT&T Unix System V operating system. It is to some extent a superset of the POSIX standard (see section POSIX (The Portable Operating System Interface)).

The GNU C library defines some of the facilities required by the SVID that are not also required by the ISO C or POSIX standards, for compatibility with System V Unix and other Unix systems (such as SunOS) which include these facilities. However, many of the more obscure and less generally useful facilities required by the SVID are not included. (In fact, Unix System V itself does not provide them all.)

Using the Library

This section describes some of the practical issues involved in using the GNU C library.

Header Files

Libraries for use by C programs really consist of two parts: header files that define types and macros and declare variables and functions; and the actual library or archive that contains the definitions of the variables and functions.

(Recall that in C, a declaration merely provides information that a function or variable exists and gives its type. For a function declaration, information about the types of its arguments might be provided as well. The purpose of declarations is to allow the compiler to correctly process references to the declared variables and functions. A definition, on the other hand, actually allocates storage for a variable or says what a function does.)

In order to use the facilities in the GNU C library, you should be sure that your program source files include the appropriate header files. This is so that the compiler has declarations of these facilities available and can correctly process references to them. Once your program has been compiled, the linker resolves these references to the actual definitions provided in the archive file.

Header files are included into a program source file by the `#include' preprocessor directive. The C language supports two forms of this directive; the first,

#include "header"

is typically used to include a header file header that you write yourself; this would contain definitions and declarations describing the interfaces between the different parts of your particular application. By contrast,

#include <file.h>

is typically used to include a header file `file.h' that contains definitions and declarations for a standard library. This file would normally be installed in a standard place by your system administrator. You should use this second form for the C library header files.

Typically, `#include' directives are placed at the top of the C source file, before any other code. If you begin your source files with some comments explaining what the code in the file does (a good idea), put the `#include' directives immediately afterwards, following the feature test macro definition (see section Feature Test Macros).

For more information about the use of header files and `#include' directives, see section `Header Files' in The GNU C Preprocessor Manual.

The GNU C library provides several header files, each of which contains the type and macro definitions and variable and function declarations for a group of related facilities. This means that your programs may need to include several header files, depending on exactly which facilities you are using.

Some library header files include other library header files automatically. However, as a matter of programming style, you should not rely on this; it is better to explicitly include all the header files required for the library facilities you are using. The GNU C library header files have been written in such a way that it doesn't matter if a header file is accidentally included more than once; including a header file a second time has no effect. Likewise, if your program needs to include multiple header files, the order in which they are included doesn't matter.

Compatibility Note: Inclusion of standard header files in any order and any number of times works in any ISO C implementation. However, this has traditionally not been the case in many older C implementations.

Strictly speaking, you don't have to include a header file to use a function it declares; you could declare the function explicitly yourself, according to the specifications in this manual. But it is usually better to include the header file because it may define types and macros that are not otherwise available and because it may define more efficient macro replacements for some functions. It is also a sure way to have the correct declaration.

Macro Definitions of Functions

If we describe something as a function in this manual, it may have a macro definition as well. This normally has no effect on how your program runs--the macro definition does the same thing as the function would. In particular, macro equivalents for library functions evaluate arguments exactly once, in the same way that a function call would. The main reason for these macro definitions is that sometimes they can produce an inline expansion that is considerably faster than an actual function call.

Taking the address of a library function works even if it is also defined as a macro. This is because, in this context, the name of the function isn't followed by the left parenthesis that is syntactically necessary to recognize a macro call.

You might occasionally want to avoid using the macro definition of a function--perhaps to make your program easier to debug. There are two ways you can do this:

For example, suppose the header file `stdlib.h' declares a function named abs with

extern int abs (int);

and also provides a macro definition for abs. Then, in:

#include <stdlib.h>
int f (int *i) { return (abs (++*i)); }

the reference to abs might refer to either a macro or a function. On the other hand, in each of the following examples the reference is to a function and not a macro.

#include <stdlib.h>
int g (int *i) { return ((abs)(++*i)); }

#undef abs
int h (int *i) { return (abs (++*i)); }

Since macro definitions that double for a function behave in exactly the same way as the actual function version, there is usually no need for any of these methods. In fact, removing macro definitions usually just makes your program slower.

Reserved Names

The names of all library types, macros, variables and functions that come from the ISO C standard are reserved unconditionally; your program may not redefine these names. All other library names are reserved if your program explicitly includes the header file that defines or declares them. There are several reasons for these restrictions:

In addition to the names documented in this manual, reserved names include all external identifiers (global functions and variables) that begin with an underscore (`_') and all identifiers regardless of use that begin with either two underscores or an underscore followed by a capital letter are reserved names. This is so that the library and header files can define functions, variables, and macros for internal purposes without risk of conflict with names in user programs.

Some additional classes of identifier names are reserved for future extensions to the C language or the POSIX.1 environment. While using these names for your own purposes right now might not cause a problem, they do raise the possibility of conflict with future versions of the C or POSIX standards, so you should avoid these names.

In addition, some individual header files reserve names beyond those that they actually define. You only need to worry about these restrictions if your program includes that particular header file.

Feature Test Macros

The exact set of features available when you compile a source file is controlled by which feature test macros you define.

If you compile your programs using `gcc -ansi', you get only the ISO C library features, unless you explicitly request additional features by defining one or more of the feature macros. See section `GNU CC Command Options' in The GNU CC Manual, for more information about GCC options.

You should define these macros by using `#define' preprocessor directives at the top of your source code files. These directives must come before any #include of a system header file. It is best to make them the very first thing in the file, preceded only by comments. You could also use the `-D' option to GCC, but it's better if you make the source files indicate their own meaning in a self-contained way.

Macro: _POSIX_SOURCE
If you define this macro, then the functionality from the POSIX.1 standard (IEEE Standard 1003.1) is available, as well as all of the ISO C facilities.

Macro: _POSIX_C_SOURCE
If you define this macro with a value of 1, then the functionality from the POSIX.1 standard (IEEE Standard 1003.1) is made available. If you define this macro with a value of 2, then both the functionality from the POSIX.1 standard and the functionality from the POSIX.2 standard (IEEE Standard 1003.2) are made available. This is in addition to the ISO C facilities.

Macro: _BSD_SOURCE
If you define this macro, functionality derived from 4.3 BSD Unix is included as well as the ISO C, POSIX.1, and POSIX.2 material.

Some of the features derived from 4.3 BSD Unix conflict with the corresponding features specified by the POSIX.1 standard. If this macro is defined, the 4.3 BSD definitions take precedence over the POSIX definitions.

Due to the nature of some of the conflicts between 4.3 BSD and POSIX.1, you need to use a special BSD compatibility library when linking programs compiled for BSD compatibility. This is because some functions must be defined in two different ways, one of them in the normal C library, and one of them in the compatibility library. If your program defines _BSD_SOURCE, you must give the option `-lbsd-compat' to the compiler or linker when linking the program, to tell it to find functions in this special compatibility library before looking for them in the normal C library.

Macro: _SVID_SOURCE
If you define this macro, functionality derived from SVID is included as well as the ISO C, POSIX.1, POSIX.2, and X/Open material.

Macro: _XOPEN_SOURCE
If you define this macro, functionality described in the X/Open Portability Guide is included. This is a superset of the POSIX.1 and POSIX.2 functionality and in fact _POSIX_SOURCE and _POSIX_C_SOURCE are automatically defined.

As the unification of all Unices, functionality only available in BSD and SVID is also included.

If the macro _XOPEN_SOURCE_EXTENDED is also defined, even more functionality is available. The extra functions will make all functions available which are necessary for the X/Open Unix brand.

Macro: _GNU_SOURCE
If you define this macro, everything is included: ISO C, POSIX.1, POSIX.2, BSD, SVID, X/Open, and GNU extensions. In the cases where POSIX.1 conflicts with BSD, the POSIX definitions take precedence.

If you want to get the full effect of _GNU_SOURCE but make the BSD definitions take precedence over the POSIX definitions, use this sequence of definitions:

#define _GNU_SOURCE
#define _BSD_SOURCE
#define _SVID_SOURCE

Note that if you do this, you must link your program with the BSD compatibility library by passing the `-lbsd-compat' option to the compiler or linker. Note: If you forget to do this, you may get very strange errors at run time.

Macro: _REENTRANT
Macro: _THREAD_SAFE
If you define one of these macros, reentrant versions of several functions get declared. Some of the functions are specified in POSIX.1c but many others are only available on a few other systems or are unique to GNU libc. The problem is that the standardization of the thread safe C library interface still is behind.

Unlike on some other systems no special version of the C library must be used for linking. There is only one version but while compiling this it must have been specified to compile as thread safe.

We recommend you use _GNU_SOURCE in new programs. If you don't specify the `-ansi' option to GCC and don't define any of these macros explicitly, the effect is the same as defining _POSIX_C_SOURCE to 2 and _POSIX_SOURCE, _SVID_SOURCE, and _BSD_SOURCE to 1.

When you define a feature test macro to request a larger class of features, it is harmless to define in addition a feature test macro for a subset of those features. For example, if you define _POSIX_C_SOURCE, then defining _POSIX_SOURCE as well has no effect. Likewise, if you define _GNU_SOURCE, then defining either _POSIX_SOURCE or _POSIX_C_SOURCE or _SVID_SOURCE as well has no effect.

Note, however, that the features of _BSD_SOURCE are not a subset of any of the other feature test macros supported. This is because it defines BSD features that take precedence over the POSIX features that are requested by the other macros. For this reason, defining _BSD_SOURCE in addition to the other feature test macros does have an effect: it causes the BSD features to take priority over the conflicting POSIX features.

Roadmap to the Manual

Here is an overview of the contents of the remaining chapters of this manual.

If you already know the name of the facility you are interested in, you can look it up in section Summary of Library Facilities. This gives you a summary of its syntax and a pointer to where you can find a more detailed description. This appendix is particularly useful if you just want to verify the order and type of arguments to a function, for example. It also tells you what standard or system each function, variable, or macro is derived from.

Error Reporting

Many functions in the GNU C library detect and report error conditions, and sometimes your programs need to check for these error conditions. For example, when you open an input file, you should verify that the file was actually opened correctly, and print an error message or take other appropriate action if the call to the library function failed.

This chapter describes how the error reporting facility works. Your program should include the header file `errno.h' to use this facility.

Checking for Errors

Most library functions return a special value to indicate that they have failed. The special value is typically -1, a null pointer, or a constant such as EOF that is defined for that purpose. But this return value tells you only that an error has occurred. To find out what kind of error it was, you need to look at the error code stored in the variable errno. This variable is declared in the header file `errno.h'.

Variable: volatile int errno
The variable errno contains the system error number. You can change the value of errno.

Since errno is declared volatile, it might be changed asynchronously by a signal handler; see section Defining Signal Handlers. However, a properly written signal handler saves and restores the value of errno, so you generally do not need to worry about this possibility except when writing signal handlers.

The initial value of errno at program startup is zero. Many library functions are guaranteed to set it to certain nonzero values when they encounter certain kinds of errors. These error conditions are listed for each function. These functions do not change errno when they succeed; thus, the value of errno after a successful call is not necessarily zero, and you should not use errno to determine whether a call failed. The proper way to do that is documented for each function. If the call the failed, you can examine errno.

Many library functions can set errno to a nonzero value as a result of calling other library functions which might fail. You should assume that any library function might alter errno when the function returns an error.

Portability Note: ISO C specifies errno as a "modifiable lvalue" rather than as a variable, permitting it to be implemented as a macro. For example, its expansion might involve a function call, like *_errno (). In fact, that is what it is on the GNU system itself. The GNU library, on non-GNU systems, does whatever is right for the particular system.

There are a few library functions, like sqrt and atan, that return a perfectly legitimate value in case of an error, but also set errno. For these functions, if you want to check to see whether an error occurred, the recommended method is to set errno to zero before calling the function, and then check its value afterward.

All the error codes have symbolic names; they are macros defined in `errno.h'. The names start with `E' and an upper-case letter or digit; you should consider names of this form to be reserved names. See section Reserved Names.

The error code values are all positive integers and are all distinct, with one exception: EWOULDBLOCK and EAGAIN are the same. Since the values are distinct, you can use them as labels in a switch statement; just don't use both EWOULDBLOCK and EAGAIN. Your program should not make any other assumptions about the specific values of these symbolic constants.

The value of errno doesn't necessarily have to correspond to any of these macros, since some library functions might return other error codes of their own for other situations. The only values that are guaranteed to be meaningful for a particular library function are the ones that this manual lists for that function.

On non-GNU systems, almost any system call can return EFAULT if it is given an invalid pointer as an argument. Since this could only happen as a result of a bug in your program, and since it will not happen on the GNU system, we have saved space by not mentioning EFAULT in the descriptions of individual functions.

In some Unix systems, many system calls can also return EFAULT if given as an argument a pointer into the stack, and the kernel for some obscure reason fails in its attempt to extend the stack. If this ever happens, you should probably try using statically or dynamically allocated memory instead of stack memory on that system.

Error Codes

The error code macros are defined in the header file `errno.h'. All of them expand into integer constant values. Some of these error codes can't occur on the GNU system, but they can occur using the GNU library on other systems.

Macro: int EPERM
Operation not permitted; only the owner of the file (or other resource) or processes with special privileges can perform the operation.

Macro: int ENOENT
No such file or directory. This is a "file doesn't exist" error for ordinary files that are referenced in contexts where they are expected to already exist.

Macro: int ESRCH
No process matches the specified process ID.

Macro: int EINTR
Interrupted function call; an asynchronous signal occurred and prevented completion of the call. When this happens, you should try the call again.

You can choose to have functions resume after a signal that is handled, rather than failing with EINTR; see section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.

Macro: int EIO
Input/output error; usually used for physical read or write errors.

Macro: int ENXIO
No such device or address. The system tried to use the device represented by a file you specified, and it couldn't find the device. This can mean that the device file was installed incorrectly, or that the physical device is missing or not correctly attached to the computer.

Macro: int E2BIG
Argument list too long; used when the arguments passed to a new program being executed with one of the exec functions (see section Executing a File) occupy too much memory space. This condition never arises in the GNU system.

Macro: int ENOEXEC
Invalid executable file format. This condition is detected by the exec functions; see section Executing a File.

Macro: int EBADF
Bad file descriptor; for example, I/O on a descriptor that has been closed or reading from a descriptor open only for writing (or vice versa).

Macro: int ECHILD
There are no child processes. This error happens on operations that are supposed to manipulate child processes, when there aren't any processes to manipulate.

Macro: int EDEADLK
Deadlock avoided; allocating a system resource would have resulted in a deadlock situation. The system does not guarantee that it will notice all such situations. This error means you got lucky and the system noticed; it might just hang. See section File Locks, for an example.

Macro: int ENOMEM
No memory available. The system cannot allocate more virtual memory because its capacity is full.

Macro: int EACCES
Permission denied; the file permissions do not allow the attempted operation.

Macro: int EFAULT
Bad address; an invalid pointer was detected. In the GNU system, this error never happens; you get a signal instead.

Macro: int ENOTBLK
A file that isn't a block special file was given in a situation that requires one. For example, trying to mount an ordinary file as a file system in Unix gives this error.

Macro: int EBUSY
Resource busy; a system resource that can't be shared is already in use. For example, if you try to delete a file that is the root of a currently mounted filesystem, you get this error.

Macro: int EEXIST
File exists; an existing file was specified in a context where it only makes sense to specify a new file.

Macro: int EXDEV
An attempt to make an improper link across file systems was detected. This happens not only when you use link (see section Hard Links) but also when you rename a file with rename (see section Renaming Files).

Macro: int ENODEV
The wrong type of device was given to a function that expects a particular sort of device.

Macro: int ENOTDIR
A file that isn't a directory was specified when a directory is required.

Macro: int EISDIR
File is a directory; you cannot open a directory for writing, or create or remove hard links to it.

Macro: int EINVAL
Invalid argument. This is used to indicate various kinds of problems with passing the wrong argument to a library function.

Macro: int EMFILE
The current process has too many files open and can't open any more. Duplicate descriptors do count toward this limit.

In BSD and GNU, the number of open files is controlled by a resource limit that can usually be increased. If you get this error, you might want to increase the RLIMIT_NOFILE limit or make it unlimited; see section Limiting Resource Usage.

Macro: int ENFILE
There are too many distinct file openings in the entire system. Note that any number of linked channels count as just one file opening; see section Linked Channels. This error never occurs in the GNU system.

Macro: int ENOTTY
Inappropriate I/O control operation, such as trying to set terminal modes on an ordinary file.

Macro: int ETXTBSY
An attempt to execute a file that is currently open for writing, or write to a file that is currently being executed. Often using a debugger to run a program is considered having it open for writing and will cause this error. (The name stands for "text file busy".) This is not an error in the GNU system; the text is copied as necessary.

Macro: int EFBIG
File too big; the size of a file would be larger than allowed by the system.

Macro: int ENOSPC
No space left on device; write operation on a file failed because the disk is full.

Macro: int ESPIPE
Invalid seek operation (such as on a pipe).

Macro: int EROFS
An attempt was made to modify something on a read-only file system.

Macro: int EMLINK
Too many links; the link count of a single file would become too large. rename can cause this error if the file being renamed already has as many links as it can take (see section Renaming Files).

Macro: int EPIPE
Broken pipe; there is no process reading from the other end of a pipe. Every library function that returns this error code also generates a SIGPIPE signal; this signal terminates the program if not handled or blocked. Thus, your program will never actually see EPIPE unless it has handled or blocked SIGPIPE.

Macro: int EDOM
Domain error; used by mathematical functions when an argument value does not fall into the domain over which the function is defined.

Macro: int ERANGE
Range error; used by mathematical functions when the result value is not representable because of overflow or underflow.

Macro: int EAGAIN
Resource temporarily unavailable; the call might work if you try again later. The macro EWOULDBLOCK is another name for EAGAIN; they are always the same in the GNU C library.

This error can happen in a few different situations:

Macro: int EWOULDBLOCK
In the GNU C library, this is another name for EAGAIN (above). The values are always the same, on every operating system.

C libraries in many older Unix systems have EWOULDBLOCK as a separate error code.

Macro: int EINPROGRESS
An operation that cannot complete immediately was initiated on an object that has non-blocking mode selected. Some functions that must always block (such as connect; see section Making a Connection) never return EAGAIN. Instead, they return EINPROGRESS to indicate that the operation has begun and will take some time. Attempts to manipulate the object before the call completes return EALREADY. You can use the select function to find out when the pending operation has completed; see section Waiting for Input or Output.

Macro: int EALREADY
An operation is already in progress on an object that has non-blocking mode selected.

Macro: int ENOTSOCK
A file that isn't a socket was specified when a socket is required.

Macro: int EMSGSIZE
The size of a message sent on a socket was larger than the supported maximum size.

Macro: int EPROTOTYPE
The socket type does not support the requested communications protocol.

Macro: int ENOPROTOOPT
You specified a socket option that doesn't make sense for the particular protocol being used by the socket. See section Socket Options.

Macro: int EPROTONOSUPPORT
The socket domain does not support the requested communications protocol (perhaps because the requested protocol is completely invalid.) See section Creating a Socket.

Macro: int ESOCKTNOSUPPORT
The socket type is not supported.

Macro: int EOPNOTSUPP
The operation you requested is not supported. Some socket functions don't make sense for all types of sockets, and others may not be implemented for all communications protocols. In the GNU system, this error can happen for many calls when the object does not support the particular operation; it is a generic indication that the server knows nothing to do for that call.

Macro: int EPFNOSUPPORT
The socket communications protocol family you requested is not supported.

Macro: int EAFNOSUPPORT
The address family specified for a socket is not supported; it is inconsistent with the protocol being used on the socket. See section Sockets.

Macro: int EADDRINUSE
The requested socket address is already in use. See section Socket Addresses.

Macro: int EADDRNOTAVAIL
The requested socket address is not available; for example, you tried to give a socket a name that doesn't match the local host name. See section Socket Addresses.

Macro: int ENETDOWN
A socket operation failed because the network was down.

Macro: int ENETUNREACH
A socket operation failed because the subnet containing the remote host was unreachable.

Macro: int ENETRESET
A network connection was reset because the remote host crashed.

Macro: int ECONNABORTED
A network connection was aborted locally.

Macro: int ECONNRESET
A network connection was closed for reasons outside the control of the local host, such as by the remote machine rebooting or an unrecoverable protocol violation.

Macro: int ENOBUFS
The kernel's buffers for I/O operations are all in use. In GNU, this error is always synonymous with ENOMEM; you may get one or the other from network operations.

Macro: int EISCONN
You tried to connect a socket that is already connected. See section Making a Connection.

Macro: int ENOTCONN
The socket is not connected to anything. You get this error when you try to transmit data over a socket, without first specifying a destination for the data. For a connectionless socket (for datagram protocols, such as UDP), you get EDESTADDRREQ instead.

Macro: int EDESTADDRREQ
No default destination address was set for the socket. You get this error when you try to transmit data over a connectionless socket, without first specifying a destination for the data with connect.

Macro: int ESHUTDOWN
The socket has already been shut down.

Macro: int ETOOMANYREFS
???

Macro: int ETIMEDOUT
A socket operation with a specified timeout received no response during the timeout period.

Macro: int ECONNREFUSED
A remote host refused to allow the network connection (typically because it is not running the requested service).

Macro: int ELOOP
Too many levels of symbolic links were encountered in looking up a file name. This often indicates a cycle of symbolic links.

Macro: int ENAMETOOLONG
Filename too long (longer than PATH_MAX; see section Limits on File System Capacity) or host name too long (in gethostname or sethostname; see section Host Identification).

Macro: int EHOSTDOWN
The remote host for a requested network connection is down.

Macro: int EHOSTUNREACH
The remote host for a requested network connection is not reachable.

Macro: int ENOTEMPTY
Directory not empty, where an empty directory was expected. Typically, this error occurs when you are trying to delete a directory.

Macro: int EPROCLIM
This means that the per-user limit on new process would be exceeded by an attempted fork. See section Limiting Resource Usage, for details on the RLIMIT_NPROC limit.

Macro: int EUSERS
The file quota system is confused because there are too many users.

Macro: int EDQUOT
The user's disk quota was exceeded.

Macro: int ESTALE
Stale NFS file handle. This indicates an internal confusion in the NFS system which is due to file system rearrangements on the server host. Repairing this condition usually requires unmounting and remounting the NFS file system on the local host.

Macro: int EREMOTE
An attempt was made to NFS-mount a remote file system with a file name that already specifies an NFS-mounted file. (This is an error on some operating systems, but we expect it to work properly on the GNU system, making this error code impossible.)

Macro: int EBADRPC
???

Macro: int ERPCMISMATCH
???

Macro: int EPROGUNAVAIL
???

Macro: int EPROGMISMATCH
???

Macro: int EPROCUNAVAIL
???

Macro: int ENOLCK
No locks available. This is used by the file locking facilities; see section File Locks. This error is never generated by the GNU system, but it can result from an operation to an NFS server running another operating system.

Macro: int EFTYPE
Inappropriate file type or format. The file was the wrong type for the operation, or a data file had the wrong format.

On some systems chmod returns this error if you try to set the sticky bit on a non-directory file; see section Assigning File Permissions.

Macro: int EAUTH
???

Macro: int ENEEDAUTH
???

Macro: int ENOSYS
Function not implemented. Some functions have commands or options defined that might not be supported in all implementations, and this is the kind of error you get if you request them and they are not supported.

Macro: int EILSEQ
While decoding a multibyte character the function came along an invalid or an incomplete sequence of bytes or the given wide character is invalid.

Macro: int EBACKGROUND
In the GNU system, servers supporting the term protocol return this error for certain operations when the caller is not in the foreground process group of the terminal. Users do not usually see this error because functions such as read and write translate it into a SIGTTIN or SIGTTOU signal. See section Job Control, for information on process groups and these signals.

Macro: int EDIED
In the GNU system, opening a file returns this error when the file is translated by a program and the translator program dies while starting up, before it has connected to the file.

Macro: int ED
The experienced user will know what is wrong.

Macro: int EGREGIOUS
You did what?

Macro: int EIEIO
Go home and have a glass of warm, dairy-fresh milk.

Macro: int EGRATUITOUS
This error code has no purpose.

Macro: int EBADMSG

Macro: int EIDRM

Macro: int EMULTIHOP

Macro: int ENODATA

Macro: int ENOLINK

Macro: int ENOMSG

Macro: int ENOSR

Macro: int ENOSTR

Macro: int EOVERFLOW

Macro: int EPROTO

Macro: int ETIME

The following error codes are defined by the Linux/i386 kernel. They are not yet documented.

Macro: int ERESTART

Macro: int ECHRNG

Macro: int EL2NSYNC

Macro: int EL3HLT

Macro: int EL3RST

Macro: int ELNRNG

Macro: int EUNATCH

Macro: int ENOCSI

Macro: int EL2HLT

Macro: int EBADE

Macro: int EBADR

Macro: int EXFULL

Macro: int ENOANO

Macro: int EBADRQC

Macro: int EBADSLT

Macro: int EDEADLOCK

Macro: int EBFONT

Macro: int ENONET

Macro: int ENOPKG

Macro: int EADV

Macro: int ESRMNT

Macro: int ECOMM

Macro: int EDOTDOT

Macro: int ENOTUNIQ

Macro: int EBADFD

Macro: int EREMCHG

Macro: int ELIBACC

Macro: int ELIBBAD

Macro: int ELIBSCN

Macro: int ELIBMAX

Macro: int ELIBEXEC

Macro: int ESTRPIPE

Macro: int EUCLEAN

Macro: int ENOTNAM

Macro: int ENAVAIL

Macro: int EISNAM

Macro: int EREMOTEIO

Macro: int ENOMEDIUM

Macro: int EMEDIUMTYPE

Error Messages

The library has functions and variables designed to make it easy for your program to report informative error messages in the customary format about the failure of a library call. The functions strerror and perror give you the standard error message for a given error code; the variable program_invocation_short_name gives you convenient access to the name of the program that encountered the error.

Function: char * strerror (int errnum)
The strerror function maps the error code (see section Checking for Errors) specified by the errnum argument to a descriptive error message string. The return value is a pointer to this string.

The value errnum normally comes from the variable errno.

You should not modify the string returned by strerror. Also, if you make subsequent calls to strerror, the string might be overwritten. (But it's guaranteed that no library function ever calls strerror behind your back.)

The function strerror is declared in `string.h'.

Function: char * strerror_r (int errnum, char *buf, size_t n)
The strerror_r function works like strerror but instead of returning the error message in a statically allocated buffer shared by all threads in the process, it writes the message string in the user supplied buffer starting at buf with the length of n bytes.

At most n characters are written (including the NUL byte) so it is up to the user to select the buffer large enough.

This function should always be used in multi-threaded programs since there is no way to guarantee the string returned by strerror really belongs to the last call of the current thread.

This function strerror_r is a GNU extension and it is declared in `string.h'.

Function: void perror (const char *message)
This function prints an error message to the stream stderr; see section Standard Streams.

If you call perror with a message that is either a null pointer or an empty string, perror just prints the error message corresponding to errno, adding a trailing newline.

If you supply a non-null message argument, then perror prefixes its output with this string. It adds a colon and a space character to separate the message from the error string corresponding to errno.

The function perror is declared in `stdio.h'.

strerror and perror produce the exact same message for any given error code; the precise text varies from system to system. On the GNU system, the messages are fairly short; there are no multi-line messages or embedded newlines. Each error message begins with a capital letter and does not include any terminating punctuation.

Compatibility Note: The strerror function is a new feature of ISO C. Many older C systems do not support this function yet.

Many programs that don't read input from the terminal are designed to exit if any system call fails. By convention, the error message from such a program should start with the program's name, sans directories. You can find that name in the variable program_invocation_short_name; the full file name is stored the variable program_invocation_name:

Variable: char * program_invocation_name
This variable's value is the name that was used to invoke the program running in the current process. It is the same as argv[0]. Note that this is not necessarily a useful file name; often it contains no directory names. See section Program Arguments.

Variable: char * program_invocation_short_name
This variable's value is the name that was used to invoke the program running in the current process, with directory names removed. (That is to say, it is the same as program_invocation_name minus everything up to the last slash, if any.)

The library initialization code sets up both of these variables before calling main.

Portability Note: These two variables are GNU extensions. If you want your program to work with non-GNU libraries, you must save the value of argv[0] in main, and then strip off the directory names yourself. We added these extensions to make it possible to write self-contained error-reporting subroutines that require no explicit cooperation from main.

Here is an example showing how to handle failure to open a file correctly. The function open_sesame tries to open the named file for reading and returns a stream if successful. The fopen library function returns a null pointer if it couldn't open the file for some reason. In that situation, open_sesame constructs an appropriate error message using the strerror function, and terminates the program. If we were going to make some other library calls before passing the error code to strerror, we'd have to save it in a local variable instead, because those other library functions might overwrite errno in the meantime.

#include <errno.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>

FILE *
open_sesame (char *name)
{
  FILE *stream;

  errno = 0;
  stream = fopen (name, "r");
  if (stream == NULL)
    {
      fprintf (stderr, "%s: Couldn't open file %s; %s\n",
               program_invocation_short_name, name, strerror (errno));
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
  else
    return stream;
}

Memory Allocation

The GNU system provides several methods for allocating memory space under explicit program control. They vary in generality and in efficiency.

Dynamic Memory Allocation Concepts

Dynamic memory allocation is a technique in which programs determine as they are running where to store some information. You need dynamic allocation when the number of memory blocks you need, or how long you continue to need them, depends on the data you are working on.

For example, you may need a block to store a line read from an input file; since there is no limit to how long a line can be, you must allocate the storage dynamically and make it dynamically larger as you read more of the line.

Or, you may need a block for each record or each definition in the input data; since you can't know in advance how many there will be, you must allocate a new block for each record or definition as you read it.

When you use dynamic allocation, the allocation of a block of memory is an action that the program requests explicitly. You call a function or macro when you want to allocate space, and specify the size with an argument. If you want to free the space, you do so by calling another function or macro. You can do these things whenever you want, as often as you want.

Dynamic Allocation and C

The C language supports two kinds of memory allocation through the variables in C programs:

Dynamic allocation is not supported by C variables; there is no storage class "dynamic", and there can never be a C variable whose value is stored in dynamically allocated space. The only way to refer to dynamically allocated space is through a pointer. Because it is less convenient, and because the actual process of dynamic allocation requires more computation time, programmers generally use dynamic allocation only when neither static nor automatic allocation will serve.

For example, if you want to allocate dynamically some space to hold a struct foobar, you cannot declare a variable of type struct foobar whose contents are the dynamically allocated space. But you can declare a variable of pointer type struct foobar * and assign it the address of the space. Then you can use the operators `*' and `->' on this pointer variable to refer to the contents of the space:

{
  struct foobar *ptr
     = (struct foobar *) malloc (sizeof (struct foobar));
  ptr->name = x;
  ptr->next = current_foobar;
  current_foobar = ptr;
}

Unconstrained Allocation

The most general dynamic allocation facility is malloc. It allows you to allocate blocks of memory of any size at any time, make them bigger or smaller at any time, and free the blocks individually at any time (or never).

Basic Storage Allocation

To allocate a block of memory, call malloc. The prototype for this function is in `stdlib.h'.

Function: void * malloc (size_t size)
This function returns a pointer to a newly allocated block size bytes long, or a null pointer if the block could not be allocated.

The contents of the block are undefined; you must initialize it yourself (or use calloc instead; see section Allocating Cleared Space). Normally you would cast the value as a pointer to the kind of object that you want to store in the block. Here we show an example of doing so, and of initializing the space with zeros using the library function memset (see section Copying and Concatenation):

struct foo *ptr;
...
ptr = (struct foo *) malloc (sizeof (struct foo));
if (ptr == 0) abort ();
memset (ptr, 0, sizeof (struct foo));

You can store the result of malloc into any pointer variable without a cast, because ISO C automatically converts the type void * to another type of pointer when necessary. But the cast is necessary in contexts other than assignment operators or if you might want your code to run in traditional C.

Remember that when allocating space for a string, the argument to malloc must be one plus the length of the string. This is because a string is terminated with a null character that doesn't count in the "length" of the string but does need space. For example:

char *ptr;
...
ptr = (char *) malloc (length + 1);

See section Representation of Strings, for more information about this.

Examples of malloc

If no more space is available, malloc returns a null pointer. You should check the value of every call to malloc. It is useful to write a subroutine that calls malloc and reports an error if the value is a null pointer, returning only if the value is nonzero. This function is conventionally called xmalloc. Here it is:

void *
xmalloc (size_t size)
{
  register void *value = malloc (size);
  if (value == 0)
    fatal ("virtual memory exhausted");
  return value;
}

Here is a real example of using malloc (by way of xmalloc). The function savestring will copy a sequence of characters into a newly allocated null-terminated string:

char *
savestring (const char *ptr, size_t len)
{
  register char *value = (char *) xmalloc (len + 1);
  memcpy (value, ptr, len);
  value[len] = '\0';
  return value;
}

The block that malloc gives you is guaranteed to be aligned so that it can hold any type of data. In the GNU system, the address is always a multiple of eight on most systems, and a multiple of 16 on 64-bit systems. Only rarely is any higher boundary (such as a page boundary) necessary; for those cases, use memalign or valloc (see section Allocating Aligned Memory Blocks).

Note that the memory located after the end of the block is likely to be in use for something else; perhaps a block already allocated by another call to malloc. If you attempt to treat the block as longer than you asked for it to be, you are liable to destroy the data that malloc uses to keep track of its blocks, or you may destroy the contents of another block. If you have already allocated a block and discover you want it to be bigger, use realloc (see section Changing the Size of a Block).

Freeing Memory Allocated with malloc

When you no longer need a block that you got with malloc, use the function free to make the block available to be allocated again. The prototype for this function is in `stdlib.h'.

Function: void free (void *ptr)
The free function deallocates the block of storage pointed at by ptr.

Function: void cfree (void *ptr)
This function does the same thing as free. It's provided for backward compatibility with SunOS; you should use free instead.

Freeing a block alters the contents of the block. Do not expect to find any data (such as a pointer to the next block in a chain of blocks) in the block after freeing it. Copy whatever you need out of the block before freeing it! Here is an example of the proper way to free all the blocks in a chain, and the strings that they point to:

struct chain
  {
    struct chain *next;
    char *name;
  }

void
free_chain (struct chain *chain)
{
  while (chain != 0)
    {
      struct chain *next = chain->next;
      free (chain->name);
      free (chain);
      chain = next;
    }
}

Occasionally, free can actually return memory to the operating system and make the process smaller. Usually, all it can do is allow a later call to malloc to reuse the space. In the meantime, the space remains in your program as part of a free-list used internally by malloc.

There is no point in freeing blocks at the end of a program, because all of the program's space is given back to the system when the process terminates.

Changing the Size of a Block

Often you do not know for certain how big a block you will ultimately need at the time you must begin to use the block. For example, the block might be a buffer that you use to hold a line being read from a file; no matter how long you make the buffer initially, you may encounter a line that is longer.

You can make the block longer by calling realloc. This function is declared in `stdlib.h'.

Function: void * realloc (void *ptr, size_t newsize)
The realloc function changes the size of the block whose address is ptr to be newsize.

Since the space after the end of the block may be in use, realloc may find it necessary to copy the block to a new address where more free space is available. The value of realloc is the new address of the block. If the block needs to be moved, realloc copies the old contents.

If you pass a null pointer for ptr, realloc behaves just like `malloc (newsize)'. This can be convenient, but beware that older implementations (before ISO C) may not support this behavior, and will probably crash when realloc is passed a null pointer.

Like malloc, realloc may return a null pointer if no memory space is available to make the block bigger. When this happens, the original block is untouched; it has not been modified or relocated.

In most cases it makes no difference what happens to the original block when realloc fails, because the application program cannot continue when it is out of memory, and the only thing to do is to give a fatal error message. Often it is convenient to write and use a subroutine, conventionally called xrealloc, that takes care of the error message as xmalloc does for malloc:

void *
xrealloc (void *ptr, size_t size)
{
  register void *value = realloc (ptr, size);
  if (value == 0)
    fatal ("Virtual memory exhausted");
  return value;
}

You can also use realloc to make a block smaller. The reason you is needed. In several allocation implementations, making a block smaller sometimes necessitates copying it, so it can fail if no other space is available.

If the new size you specify is the same as the old size, realloc is guaranteed to change nothing and return the same address that you gave.

Allocating Cleared Space

The function calloc allocates memory and clears it to zero. It is declared in `stdlib.h'.

Function: void * calloc (size_t count, size_t eltsize)
This function allocates a block long enough to contain a vector of count elements, each of size eltsize. Its contents are cleared to zero before calloc returns.

You could define calloc as follows:

void *
calloc (size_t count, size_t eltsize)
{
  size_t size = count * eltsize;
  void *value = malloc (size);
  if (value != 0)
    memset (value, 0, size);
  return value;
}

But in general, it is not guaranteed that calloc calls malloc internally. Therefore, if an application provides its own malloc/realloc/free outside the C library, it should always define calloc, too.

Efficiency Considerations for malloc

As apposed to other versions, the malloc in GNU libc does not round up block sizes to powers of two, neither for large nor for small sizes. Neighboring chunks can be coalesced on a free no matter what their size is. This makes the implementation suitable for all kinds of allocation patterns without generally incurring high memory waste through fragmentation.

Very large blocks (much larger than a page) are allocated with mmap (anonymous or via /dev/zero) by this implementation. This has the great advantage that these chunks are returned to the system immediately when they are freed. Therefore, it cannot happen that a large chunk becomes "locked" in between smaller ones and even after calling free wastes memory. The size threshold for mmap to be used can be adjusted with mallopt. The use of mmap can also be disabled completely.

Allocating Aligned Memory Blocks

The address of a block returned by malloc or realloc in the GNU system is always a multiple of eight (or sixteen on 64-bit systems). If you need a block whose address is a multiple of a higher power of two than that, use memalign or valloc. These functions are declared in `stdlib.h'.

With the GNU library, you can use free to free the blocks that memalign and valloc return. That does not work in BSD, however--BSD does not provide any way to free such blocks.

Function: void * memalign (size_t boundary, size_t size)
The memalign function allocates a block of size bytes whose address is a multiple of boundary. The boundary must be a power of two! The function memalign works by allocating a somewhat larger block, and then returning an address within the block that is on the specified boundary.

Function: void * valloc (size_t size)
Using valloc is like using memalign and passing the page size as the value of the second argument. It is implemented like this:

void *
valloc (size_t size)
{
  return memalign (getpagesize (), size);
}

Malloc Tunable Parameters

You can adjust some parameters for dynamic memory allocation with the mallopt function. This function is the general SVID/XPG interface, defined in `malloc.h'.

Function: int mallopt (int param, int value)
When calling mallopt, the param argument specifies the parameter to be set, and value the new value to be set. Possible choices for param, as defined in `malloc.h', are:

M_TRIM_THRESHOLD
This is the minimum size (in bytes) of the top-most, releaseable chunk that will cause sbrk to be called with a negative argument in order to return memory to the system.
M_TOP_PAD
This parameter determines the amount of extra memory to obtain from the system when a call to sbrk is required. It also specifies the number of bytes to retain when shrinking the heap by calling sbrk with a negative argument. This provides the necessary hysteresis in heap size such that excessive amounts of system calls can be avoided.
M_MMAP_THRESHOLD
All chunks larger than this value are allocated outside the normal heap, using the mmap system call. This way it is guaranteed that the memory for these chunks can be returned to the system on free.
M_MMAP_MAX
The maximum number of chunks to allocate with mmap. Setting this to zero disables all use of mmap.

Heap Consistency Checking

You can ask malloc to check the consistency of dynamic storage by using the mcheck function. This function is a GNU extension, declared in `malloc.h'.

Function: int mcheck (void (*abortfn) (enum mcheck_status status))
Calling mcheck tells malloc to perform occasional consistency checks. These will catch things such as writing past the end of a block that was allocated with malloc.

The abortfn argument is the function to call when an inconsistency is found. If you supply a null pointer, then mcheck uses a default function which prints a message and calls abort (see section Aborting a Program). The function you supply is called with one argument, which says what sort of inconsistency was detected; its type is described below.

It is too late to begin allocation checking once you have allocated anything with malloc. So mcheck does nothing in that case. The function returns -1 if you call it too late, and 0 otherwise (when it is successful).

The easiest way to arrange to call mcheck early enough is to use the option `-lmcheck' when you link your program; then you don't need to modify your program source at all.

Function: enum mcheck_status mprobe (void *pointer)
The mprobe function lets you explicitly check for inconsistencies in a particular allocated block. You must have already called mcheck at the beginning of the program, to do its occasional checks; calling mprobe requests an additional consistency check to be done at the time of the call.

The argument pointer must be a pointer returned by malloc or realloc. mprobe returns a value that says what inconsistency, if any, was found. The values are described below.

Data Type: enum mcheck_status
This enumerated type describes what kind of inconsistency was detected in an allocated block, if any. Here are the possible values:

MCHECK_DISABLED
mcheck was not called before the first allocation. No consistency checking can be done.
MCHECK_OK
No inconsistency detected.
MCHECK_HEAD
The data immediately before the block was modified. This commonly happens when an array index or pointer is decremented too far.
MCHECK_TAIL
The data immediately after the block was modified. This commonly happens when an array index or pointer is incremented too far.
MCHECK_FREE
The block was already freed.

Storage Allocation Hooks

The GNU C library lets you modify the behavior of malloc, realloc, and free by specifying appropriate hook functions. You can use these hooks to help you debug programs that use dynamic storage allocation, for example.

The hook variables are declared in `malloc.h'.

Variable: __malloc_hook
The value of this variable is a pointer to function that malloc uses whenever it is called. You should define this function to look like malloc; that is, like:

void *function (size_t size)

Variable: __realloc_hook
The value of this variable is a pointer to function that realloc uses whenever it is called. You should define this function to look like realloc; that is, like:

void *function (void *ptr, size_t size)

Variable: __free_hook
The value of this variable is a pointer to function that free uses whenever it is called. You should define this function to look like free; that is, like:

void function (void *ptr)

You must make sure that the function you install as a hook for one of these functions does not call that function recursively without restoring the old value of the hook first! Otherwise, your program will get stuck in an infinite recursion.

Here is an example showing how to use __malloc_hook properly. It installs a function that prints out information every time malloc is called.

static void *(*old_malloc_hook) (size_t);
static void *
my_malloc_hook (size_t size)
{
  void *result;
  __malloc_hook = old_malloc_hook;
  result = malloc (size);
  /* printf might call malloc, so protect it too. */
  printf ("malloc (%u) returns %p\n", (unsigned int) size, result);
  __malloc_hook = my_malloc_hook;
  return result;
}

main ()
{
  ...
  old_malloc_hook = __malloc_hook;
  __malloc_hook = my_malloc_hook;
  ...
}

The mcheck function (see section Heap Consistency Checking) works by installing such hooks.

Statistics for Storage Allocation with malloc

You can get information about dynamic storage allocation by calling the mallinfo function. This function and its associated data type are declared in `malloc.h'; they are an extension of the standard SVID/XPG version.

Data Type: struct mallinfo
This structure type is used to return information about the dynamic storage allocator. It contains the following members:

int arena
This is the total size of memory allocated with sbrk by malloc, in bytes.
int ordblks
This is the number of chunks not in use. (The storage allocator internally gets chunks of memory from the operating system, and then carves them up to satisfy individual malloc requests; see section Efficiency Considerations for malloc.)
int smblks
This field is unused.
int hblks
This is the total number of chunks allocated with mmap.
int hblkhd
This is the total size of memory allocated with mmap, in bytes.
int usmblks
This field is unused.
int fsmblks
This field is unused.
int uordblks
This is the total size of memory occupied by chunks handed out by malloc.
int fordblks
This is the total size of memory occupied by free (not in use) chunks.
int keepcost
This is the size of the top-most, releaseable chunk that normally borders the end of the heap (i.e. the "brk" of the process).

Function: struct mallinfo mallinfo (void)
This function returns information about the current dynamic memory usage in a structure of type struct mallinfo.

Summary of malloc-Related Functions

Here is a summary of the functions that work with malloc:

void *malloc (size_t size)
Allocate a block of size bytes. See section Basic Storage Allocation.
void free (void *addr)
Free a block previously allocated by malloc. See section Freeing Memory Allocated with malloc.
void *realloc (void *addr, size_t size)
Make a block previously allocated by malloc larger or smaller, possibly by copying it to a new location. See section Changing the Size of a Block.
void *calloc (size_t count, size_t eltsize)
Allocate a block of count * eltsize bytes using malloc, and set its contents to zero. See section Allocating Cleared Space.
void *valloc (size_t size)
Allocate a block of size bytes, starting on a page boundary. See section Allocating Aligned Memory Blocks.
void *memalign (size_t size, size_t boundary)
Allocate a block of size bytes, starting on an address that is a multiple of boundary. See section Allocating Aligned Memory Blocks.
int mallopt (int param, int value)
Adjust a tunable parameter. See section Malloc Tunable Parameters
int mcheck (void (*abortfn) (void))
Tell malloc to perform occasional consistency checks on dynamically allocated memory, and to call abortfn when an inconsistency is found. See section Heap Consistency Checking.
void *(*__malloc_hook) (size_t size)
A pointer to a function that malloc uses whenever it is called.
void *(*__realloc_hook) (void *ptr, size_t size)
A pointer to a function that realloc uses whenever it is called.
void (*__free_hook) (void *ptr)
A pointer to a function that free uses whenever it is called.
struct mallinfo mallinfo (void)
Return information about the current dynamic memory usage. See section Statistics for Storage Allocation with malloc.

Obstacks

An obstack is a pool of memory containing a stack of objects. You can create any number of separate obstacks, and then allocate objects in specified obstacks. Within each obstack, the last object allocated must always be the first one freed, but distinct obstacks are independent of each other.

Aside from this one constraint of order of freeing, obstacks are totally general: an obstack can contain any number of objects of any size. They are implemented with macros, so allocation is usually very fast as long as the objects are usually small. And the only space overhead per object is the padding needed to start each object on a suitable boundary.

Creating Obstacks

The utilities for manipulating obstacks are declared in the header file `obstack.h'.

Data Type: struct obstack
An obstack is represented by a data structure of type struct obstack. This structure has a small fixed size; it records the status of the obstack and how to find the space in which objects are allocated. It does not contain any of the objects themselves. You should not try to access the contents of the structure directly; use only the functions described in this chapter.

You can declare variables of type struct obstack and use them as obstacks, or you can allocate obstacks dynamically like any other kind of object. Dynamic allocation of obstacks allows your program to have a variable number of different stacks. (You can even allocate an obstack structure in another obstack, but this is rarely useful.)

All the functions that work with obstacks require you to specify which obstack to use. You do this with a pointer of type struct obstack *. In the following, we often say "an obstack" when strictly speaking the object at hand is such a pointer.

The objects in the obstack are packed into large blocks called chunks. The struct obstack structure points to a chain of the chunks currently in use.

The obstack library obtains a new chunk whenever you allocate an object that won't fit in the previous chunk. Since the obstack library manages chunks automatically, you don't need to pay much attention to them, but you do need to supply a function which the obstack library should use to get a chunk. Usually you supply a function which uses malloc directly or indirectly. You must also supply a function to free a chunk. These matters are described in the following section.

Preparing for Using Obstacks

Each source file in which you plan to use the obstack functions must include the header file `obstack.h', like this:

#include <obstack.h>

Also, if the source file uses the macro obstack_init, it must declare or define two functions or macros that will be called by the obstack library. One, obstack_chunk_alloc, is used to allocate the chunks of memory into which objects are packed. The other, obstack_chunk_free, is used to return chunks when the objects in them are freed. These macros should appear before any use of obstacks in the source file.

Usually these are defined to use malloc via the intermediary xmalloc (see section Unconstrained Allocation). This is done with the following pair of macro definitions:

#define obstack_chunk_alloc xmalloc
#define obstack_chunk_free free

Though the storage you get using obstacks really comes from malloc, using obstacks is faster because malloc is called less often, for larger blocks of memory. See section Obstack Chunks, for full details.

At run time, before the program can use a struct obstack object as an obstack, it must initialize the obstack by calling obstack_init.

Function: int obstack_init (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
Initialize obstack obstack-ptr for allocation of objects. This function calls the obstack's obstack_chunk_alloc function. It returns 0 if obstack_chunk_alloc returns a null pointer, meaning that it is out of memory. Otherwise, it returns 1. If you supply an obstack_chunk_alloc function that calls exit (see section Program Termination) or longjmp (see section Non-Local Exits) when out of memory, you can safely ignore the value that obstack_init returns.

Here are two examples of how to allocate the space for an obstack and initialize it. First, an obstack that is a static variable:

static struct obstack myobstack;
...
obstack_init (&myobstack);

Second, an obstack that is itself dynamically allocated:

struct obstack *myobstack_ptr
  = (struct obstack *) xmalloc (sizeof (struct obstack));

obstack_init (myobstack_ptr);

Allocation in an Obstack

The most direct way to allocate an object in an obstack is with obstack_alloc, which is invoked almost like malloc.

Function: void * obstack_alloc (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, int size)
This allocates an uninitialized block of size bytes in an obstack and returns its address. Here obstack-ptr specifies which obstack to allocate the block in; it is the address of the struct obstack object which represents the obstack. Each obstack function or macro requires you to specify an obstack-ptr as the first argument.

This function calls the obstack's obstack_chunk_alloc function if it needs to allocate a new chunk of memory; it returns a null pointer if obstack_chunk_alloc returns one. In that case, it has not changed the amount of memory allocated in the obstack. If you supply an obstack_chunk_alloc function that calls exit (see section Program Termination) or longjmp (see section Non-Local Exits) when out of memory, then obstack_alloc will never return a null pointer.

For example, here is a function that allocates a copy of a string str in a specific obstack, which is in the variable string_obstack:

struct obstack string_obstack;

char *
copystring (char *string)
{
  size_t len = strlen (string) + 1;
  char *s = (char *) obstack_alloc (&string_obstack, len);
  memcpy (s, string, len);
  return s;
}

To allocate a block with specified contents, use the function obstack_copy, declared like this:

Function: void * obstack_copy (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *address, int size)
This allocates a block and initializes it by copying size bytes of data starting at address. It can return a null pointer under the same conditions as obstack_alloc.

Function: void * obstack_copy0 (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *address, int size)
Like obstack_copy, but appends an extra byte containing a null character. This extra byte is not counted in the argument size.

The obstack_copy0 function is convenient for copying a sequence of characters into an obstack as a null-terminated string. Here is an example of its use:

char *
obstack_savestring (char *addr, int size)
{
  return obstack_copy0 (&myobstack, addr, size);
}

Contrast this with the previous example of savestring using malloc (see section Basic Storage Allocation).

Freeing Objects in an Obstack

To free an object allocated in an obstack, use the function obstack_free. Since the obstack is a stack of objects, freeing one object automatically frees all other objects allocated more recently in the same obstack.

Function: void obstack_free (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *object)
If object is a null pointer, everything allocated in the obstack is freed. Otherwise, object must be the address of an object allocated in the obstack. Then object is freed, along with everything allocated in obstack since object.

Note that if object is a null pointer, the result is an uninitialized obstack. To free all storage in an obstack but leave it valid for further allocation, call obstack_free with the address of the first object allocated on the obstack:

obstack_free (obstack_ptr, first_object_allocated_ptr);

Recall that the objects in an obstack are grouped into chunks. When all the objects in a chunk become free, the obstack library automatically frees the chunk (see section Preparing for Using Obstacks). Then other obstacks, or non-obstack allocation, can reuse the space of the chunk.

Obstack Functions and Macros

The interfaces for using obstacks may be defined either as functions or as macros, depending on the compiler. The obstack facility works with all C compilers, including both ISO C and traditional C, but there are precautions you must take if you plan to use compilers other than GNU C.

If you are using an old-fashioned non-ISO C compiler, all the obstack "functions" are actually defined only as macros. You can call these macros like functions, but you cannot use them in any other way (for example, you cannot take their address).

Calling the macros requires a special precaution: namely, the first operand (the obstack pointer) may not contain any side effects, because it may be computed more than once. For example, if you write this:

obstack_alloc (get_obstack (), 4);

you will find that get_obstack may be called several times. If you use *obstack_list_ptr++ as the obstack pointer argument, you will get very strange results since the incrementation may occur several times.

In ISO C, each function has both a macro definition and a function definition. The function definition is used if you take the address of the function without calling it. An ordinary call uses the macro definition by default, but you can request the function definition instead by writing the function name in parentheses, as shown here:

char *x;
void *(*funcp) ();
/* Use the macro.  */
x = (char *) obstack_alloc (obptr, size);
/* Call the function.  */
x = (char *) (obstack_alloc) (obptr, size);
/* Take the address of the function.  */
funcp = obstack_alloc;

This is the same situation that exists in ISO C for the standard library functions. See section Macro Definitions of Functions.

Warning: When you do use the macros, you must observe the precaution of avoiding side effects in the first operand, even in ISO C.

If you use the GNU C compiler, this precaution is not necessary, because various language extensions in GNU C permit defining the macros so as to compute each argument only once.

Growing Objects

Because storage in obstack chunks is used sequentially, it is possible to build up an object step by step, adding one or more bytes at a time to the end of the object. With this technique, you do not need to know how much data you will put in the object until you come to the end of it. We call this the technique of growing objects. The special functions for adding data to the growing object are described in this section.

You don't need to do anything special when you start to grow an object. Using one of the functions to add data to the object automatically starts it. However, it is necessary to say explicitly when the object is finished. This is done with the function obstack_finish.

The actual address of the object thus built up is not known until the object is finished. Until then, it always remains possible that you will add so much data that the object must be copied into a new chunk.

While the obstack is in use for a growing object, you cannot use it for ordinary allocation of another object. If you try to do so, the space already added to the growing object will become part of the other object.

Function: void obstack_blank (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, int size)
The most basic function for adding to a growing object is obstack_blank, which adds space without initializing it.

Function: void obstack_grow (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *data, int size)
To add a block of initialized space, use obstack_grow, which is the growing-object analogue of obstack_copy. It adds size bytes of data to the growing object, copying the contents from data.

Function: void obstack_grow0 (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *data, int size)
This is the growing-object analogue of obstack_copy0. It adds size bytes copied from data, followed by an additional null character.

Function: void obstack_1grow (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, char c)
To add one character at a time, use the function obstack_1grow. It adds a single byte containing c to the growing object.

Function: void obstack_ptr_grow (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *data)
Adding the value of a pointer one can use the function obstack_ptr_grow. It adds sizeof (void *) bytes containing the value of data.

Function: void obstack_int_grow (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, int data)
A single value of type int can be added by using the obstack_int_grow function. It adds sizeof (int) bytes to the growing object and initializes them with the value of data.

Function: void * obstack_finish (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
When you are finished growing the object, use the function obstack_finish to close it off and return its final address.

Once you have finished the object, the obstack is available for ordinary allocation or for growing another object.

This function can return a null pointer under the same conditions as obstack_alloc (see section Allocation in an Obstack).

When you build an object by growing it, you will probably need to know afterward how long it became. You need not keep track of this as you grow the object, because you can find out the length from the obstack just before finishing the object with the function obstack_object_size, declared as follows:

Function: int obstack_object_size (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
This function returns the current size of the growing object, in bytes. Remember to call this function before finishing the object. After it is finished, obstack_object_size will return zero.

If you have started growing an object and wish to cancel it, you should finish it and then free it, like this:

obstack_free (obstack_ptr, obstack_finish (obstack_ptr));

This has no effect if no object was growing.

You can use obstack_blank with a negative size argument to make the current object smaller. Just don't try to shrink it beyond zero length--there's no telling what will happen if you do that.

Extra Fast Growing Objects

The usual functions for growing objects incur overhead for checking whether there is room for the new growth in the current chunk. If you are frequently constructing objects in small steps of growth, this overhead can be significant.

You can reduce the overhead by using special "fast growth" functions that grow the object without checking. In order to have a robust program, you must do the checking yourself. If you do this checking in the simplest way each time you are about to add data to the object, you have not saved anything, because that is what the ordinary growth functions do. But if you can arrange to check less often, or check more efficiently, then you make the program faster.

The function obstack_room returns the amount of room available in the current chunk. It is declared as follows:

Function: int obstack_room (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
This returns the number of bytes that can be added safely to the current growing object (or to an object about to be started) in obstack obstack using the fast growth functions.

While you know there is room, you can use these fast growth functions for adding data to a growing object:

Function: void obstack_1grow_fast (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, char c)
The function obstack_1grow_fast adds one byte containing the character c to the growing object in obstack obstack-ptr.

Function: void obstack_ptr_grow_fast (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *data)
The function obstack_ptr_grow_fast adds sizeof (void *) bytes containing the value of data to the growing object in obstack obstack-ptr.

Function: void obstack_int_grow_fast (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, int data)
The function obstack_int_grow_fast adds sizeof (int) bytes containing the value of data to the growing object in obstack obstack-ptr.

Function: void obstack_blank_fast (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, int size)
The function obstack_blank_fast adds size bytes to the growing object in obstack obstack-ptr without initializing them.

When you check for space using obstack_room and there is not enough room for what you want to add, the fast growth functions are not safe. In this case, simply use the corresponding ordinary growth function instead. Very soon this will copy the object to a new chunk; then there will be lots of room available again.

So, each time you use an ordinary growth function, check afterward for sufficient space using obstack_room. Once the object is copied to a new chunk, there will be plenty of space again, so the program will start using the fast growth functions again.

Here is an example:

void
add_string (struct obstack *obstack, const char *ptr, int len)
{
  while (len > 0)
    {
      int room = obstack_room (obstack);
      if (room == 0)
        {
          /* Not enough room. Add one character slowly,
             which may copy to a new chunk and make room.  */
          obstack_1grow (obstack, *ptr++);
          len--;
        }
      else
        {
          if (room > len)
            room = len;
          /* Add fast as much as we have room for. */
          len -= room;
          while (room-- > 0)
            obstack_1grow_fast (obstack, *ptr++);
        }
    }
}

Status of an Obstack

Here are functions that provide information on the current status of allocation in an obstack. You can use them to learn about an object while still growing it.

Function: void * obstack_base (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
This function returns the tentative address of the beginning of the currently growing object in obstack-ptr. If you finish the object immediately, it will have that address. If you make it larger first, it may outgrow the current chunk--then its address will change!

If no object is growing, this value says where the next object you allocate will start (once again assuming it fits in the current chunk).

Function: void * obstack_next_free (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
This function returns the address of the first free byte in the current chunk of obstack obstack-ptr. This is the end of the currently growing object. If no object is growing, obstack_next_free returns the same value as obstack_base.

Function: int obstack_object_size (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
This function returns the size in bytes of the currently growing object. This is equivalent to

obstack_next_free (obstack-ptr) - obstack_base (obstack-ptr)

Alignment of Data in Obstacks

Each obstack has an alignment boundary; each object allocated in the obstack automatically starts on an address that is a multiple of the specified boundary. By default, this boundary is 4 bytes.

To access an obstack's alignment boundary, use the macro obstack_alignment_mask, whose function prototype looks like this:

Macro: int obstack_alignment_mask (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
The value is a bit mask; a bit that is 1 indicates that the corresponding bit in the address of an object should be 0. The mask value should be one less than a power of 2; the effect is that all object addresses are multiples of that power of 2. The default value of the mask is 3, so that addresses are multiples of 4. A mask value of 0 means an object can start on any multiple of 1 (that is, no alignment is required).

The expansion of the macro obstack_alignment_mask is an lvalue, so you can alter the mask by assignment. For example, this statement:

obstack_alignment_mask (obstack_ptr) = 0;

has the effect of turning off alignment processing in the specified obstack.

Note that a change in alignment mask does not take effect until after the next time an object is allocated or finished in the obstack. If you are not growing an object, you can make the new alignment mask take effect immediately by calling obstack_finish. This will finish a zero-length object and then do proper alignment for the next object.

Obstack Chunks

Obstacks work by allocating space for themselves in large chunks, and then parceling out space in the chunks to satisfy your requests. Chunks are normally 4096 bytes long unless you specify a different chunk size. The chunk size includes 8 bytes of overhead that are not actually used for storing objects. Regardless of the specified size, longer chunks will be allocated when necessary for long objects.

The obstack library allocates chunks by calling the function obstack_chunk_alloc, which you must define. When a chunk is no longer needed because you have freed all the objects in it, the obstack library frees the chunk by calling obstack_chunk_free, which you must also define.

These two must be defined (as macros) or declared (as functions) in each source file that uses obstack_init (see section Creating Obstacks). Most often they are defined as macros like this:

#define obstack_chunk_alloc xmalloc
#define obstack_chunk_free free

Note that these are simple macros (no arguments). Macro definitions with arguments will not work! It is necessary that obstack_chunk_alloc or obstack_chunk_free, alone, expand into a function name if it is not itself a function name.

If you allocate chunks with malloc, the chunk size should be a power of 2. The default chunk size, 4096, was chosen because it is long enough to satisfy many typical requests on the obstack yet short enough not to waste too much memory in the portion of the last chunk not yet used.

Macro: int obstack_chunk_size (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
This returns the chunk size of the given obstack.

Since this macro expands to an lvalue, you can specify a new chunk size by assigning it a new value. Doing so does not affect the chunks already allocated, but will change the size of chunks allocated for that particular obstack in the future. It is unlikely to be useful to make the chunk size smaller, but making it larger might improve efficiency if you are allocating many objects whose size is comparable to the chunk size. Here is how to do so cleanly:

if (obstack_chunk_size (obstack_ptr) < new-chunk-size)
  obstack_chunk_size (obstack_ptr) = new-chunk-size;

Summary of Obstack Functions

Here is a summary of all the functions associated with obstacks. Each takes the address of an obstack (struct obstack *) as its first argument.

void obstack_init (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
Initialize use of an obstack. See section Creating Obstacks.
void *obstack_alloc (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, int size)
Allocate an object of size uninitialized bytes. See section Allocation in an Obstack.
void *obstack_copy (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *address, int size)
Allocate an object of size bytes, with contents copied from address. See section Allocation in an Obstack.
void *obstack_copy0 (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *address, int size)
Allocate an object of size+1 bytes, with size of them copied from address, followed by a null character at the end. See section Allocation in an Obstack.
void obstack_free (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *object)
Free object (and everything allocated in the specified obstack more recently than object). See section Freeing Objects in an Obstack.
void obstack_blank (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, int size)
Add size uninitialized bytes to a growing object. See section Growing Objects.
void obstack_grow (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *address, int size)
Add size bytes, copied from address, to a growing object. See section Growing Objects.
void obstack_grow0 (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, void *address, int size)
Add size bytes, copied from address, to a growing object, and then add another byte containing a null character. See section Growing Objects.
void obstack_1grow (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, char data-char)
Add one byte containing data-char to a growing object. See section Growing Objects.
void *obstack_finish (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
Finalize the object that is growing and return its permanent address. See section Growing Objects.
int obstack_object_size (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
Get the current size of the currently growing object. See section Growing Objects.
void obstack_blank_fast (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, int size)
Add size uninitialized bytes to a growing object without checking that there is enough room. See section Extra Fast Growing Objects.
void obstack_1grow_fast (struct obstack *obstack-ptr, char data-char)
Add one byte containing data-char to a growing object without checking that there is enough room. See section Extra Fast Growing Objects.
int obstack_room (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
Get the amount of room now available for growing the current object. See section Extra Fast Growing Objects.
int obstack_alignment_mask (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
The mask used for aligning the beginning of an object. This is an lvalue. See section Alignment of Data in Obstacks.
int obstack_chunk_size (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
The size for allocating chunks. This is an lvalue. See section Obstack Chunks.
void *obstack_base (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
Tentative starting address of the currently growing object. See section Status of an Obstack.
void *obstack_next_free (struct obstack *obstack-ptr)
Address just after the end of the currently growing object. See section Status of an Obstack.

Automatic Storage with Variable Size

The function alloca supports a kind of half-dynamic allocation in which blocks are allocated dynamically but freed automatically.

Allocating a block with alloca is an explicit action; you can allocate as many blocks as you wish, and compute the size at run time. But all the blocks are freed when you exit the function that alloca was called from, just as if they were automatic variables declared in that function. There is no way to free the space explicitly.

The prototype for alloca is in `stdlib.h'. This function is a BSD extension.

Function: void * alloca (size_t size);
The return value of alloca is the address of a block of size bytes of storage, allocated in the stack frame of the calling function.

Do not use alloca inside the arguments of a function call--you will get unpredictable results, because the stack space for the alloca would appear on the stack in the middle of the space for the function arguments. An example of what to avoid is foo (x, alloca (4), y).

alloca Example

As an example of use of alloca, here is a function that opens a file name made from concatenating two argument strings, and returns a file descriptor or minus one signifying failure:

int
open2 (char *str1, char *str2, int flags, int mode)
{
  char *name = (char *) alloca (strlen (str1) + strlen (str2) + 1);
  stpcpy (stpcpy (name, str1), str2);
  return open (name, flags, mode);
}

Here is how you would get the same results with malloc and free:

int
open2 (char *str1, char *str2, int flags, int mode)
{
  char *name = (char *) malloc (strlen (str1) + strlen (str2) + 1);
  int desc;
  if (name == 0)
    fatal ("virtual memory exceeded");
  stpcpy (stpcpy (name, str1), str2);
  desc = open (name, flags, mode);
  free (name);
  return desc;
}

As you can see, it is simpler with alloca. But alloca has other, more important advantages, and some disadvantages.

Advantages of alloca

Here are the reasons why alloca may be preferable to malloc:

Disadvantages of alloca

These are the disadvantages of alloca in comparison with malloc:

GNU C Variable-Size Arrays

In GNU C, you can replace most uses of alloca with an array of variable size. Here is how open2 would look then:

int open2 (char *str1, char *str2, int flags, int mode)
{
  char name[strlen (str1) + strlen (str2) + 1];
  stpcpy (stpcpy (name, str1), str2);
  return open (name, flags, mode);
}

But alloca is not always equivalent to a variable-sized array, for several reasons:

Note: If you mix use of alloca and variable-sized arrays within one function, exiting a scope in which a variable-sized array was declared frees all blocks allocated with alloca during the execution of that scope.

Relocating Allocator

Any system of dynamic memory allocation has overhead: the amount of space it uses is more than the amount the program asks for. The relocating memory allocator achieves very low overhead by moving blocks in memory as necessary, on its own initiative.

Concepts of Relocating Allocation

When you allocate a block with malloc, the address of the block never changes unless you use realloc to change its size. Thus, you can safely store the address in various places, temporarily or permanently, as you like. This is not safe when you use the relocating memory allocator, because any and all relocatable blocks can move whenever you allocate memory in any fashion. Even calling malloc or realloc can move the relocatable blocks.

For each relocatable block, you must make a handle---a pointer object in memory, designated to store the address of that block. The relocating allocator knows where each block's handle is, and updates the address stored there whenever it moves the block, so that the handle always points to the block. Each time you access the contents of the block, you should fetch its address anew from the handle.

To call any of the relocating allocator functions from a signal handler is almost certainly incorrect, because the signal could happen at any time and relocate all the blocks. The only way to make this safe is to block the signal around any access to the contents of any relocatable block--not a convenient mode of operation. See section Signal Handling and Nonreentrant Functions.

Allocating and Freeing Relocatable Blocks

In the descriptions below, handleptr designates the address of the handle. All the functions are declared in `malloc.h'; all are GNU extensions.

Function: void * r_alloc (void **handleptr, size_t size)
This function allocates a relocatable block of size size. It stores the block's address in *handleptr and returns a non-null pointer to indicate success.

If r_alloc can't get the space needed, it stores a null pointer in *handleptr, and returns a null pointer.

Function: void r_alloc_free (void **handleptr)
This function is the way to free a relocatable block. It frees the block that *handleptr points to, and stores a null pointer in *handleptr to show it doesn't point to an allocated block any more.

Function: void * r_re_alloc (void **handleptr, size_t size)
The function r_re_alloc adjusts the size of the block that *handleptr points to, making it size bytes long. It stores the address of the resized block in *handleptr and returns a non-null pointer to indicate success.

If enough memory is not available, this function returns a null pointer and does not modify *handleptr.

Character Handling

Programs that work with characters and strings often need to classify a character--is it alphabetic, is it a digit, is it whitespace, and so on--and perform case conversion operations on characters. The functions in the header file `ctype.h' are provided for this purpose.

Since the choice of locale and character set can alter the classifications of particular character codes, all of these functions are affected by the current locale. (More precisely, they are affected by the locale currently selected for character classification--the LC_CTYPE category; see section Categories of Activities that Locales Affect.)

Classification of Characters

This section explains the library functions for classifying characters. For example, isalpha is the function to test for an alphabetic character. It takes one argument, the character to test, and returns a nonzero integer if the character is alphabetic, and zero otherwise. You would use it like this:

if (isalpha (c))
  printf ("The character `%c' is alphabetic.\n", c);

Each of the functions in this section tests for membership in a particular class of characters; each has a name starting with `is'. Each of them takes one argument, which is a character to test, and returns an int which is treated as a boolean value. The character argument is passed as an int, and it may be the constant value EOF instead of a real character.

The attributes of any given character can vary between locales. See section Locales and Internationalization, for more information on locales.

These functions are declared in the header file `ctype.h'.

Function: int islower (int c)
Returns true if c is a lower-case letter.

Function: int isupper (int c)
Returns true if c is an upper-case letter.

Function: int isalpha (int c)
Returns true if c is an alphabetic character (a letter). If islower or isupper is true of a character, then isalpha is also true.

In some locales, there may be additional characters for which isalpha is true--letters which are neither upper case nor lower case. But in the standard "C" locale, there are no such additional characters.

Function: int isdigit (int c)
Returns true if c is a decimal digit (`0' through `9').

Function: int isalnum (int c)
Returns true if c is an alphanumeric character (a letter or number); in other words, if either isalpha or isdigit is true of a character, then isalnum is also true.

Function: int isxdigit (int c)
Returns true if c is a hexadecimal digit. Hexadecimal digits include the normal decimal digits `0' through `9' and the letters `A' through `F' and `a' through `f'.

Function: int ispunct (int c)
Returns true if c is a punctuation character. This means any printing character that is not alphanumeric or a space character.

Function: int isspace (int c)
Returns true if c is a whitespace character. In the standard "C" locale, isspace returns true for only the standard whitespace characters:

' '
space
'\f'
formfeed
'\n'
newline
'\r'
carriage return
'\t'
horizontal tab
'\v'
vertical tab

Function: int isblank (int c)
Returns true if c is a blank character; that is, a space or a tab. This function is a GNU extension.

Function: int isgraph (int c)
Returns true if c is a graphic character; that is, a character that has a glyph associated with it. The whitespace characters are not considered graphic.

Function: int isprint (int c)
Returns true if c is a printing character. Printing characters include all the graphic characters, plus the space (` ') character.

Function: int iscntrl (int c)
Returns true if c is a control character (that is, a character that is not a printing character).

Function: int isascii (int c)
Returns true if c is a 7-bit unsigned char value that fits into the US/UK ASCII character set. This function is a BSD extension and is also an SVID extension.

Case Conversion

This section explains the library functions for performing conversions such as case mappings on characters. For example, toupper converts any character to upper case if possible. If the character can't be converted, toupper returns it unchanged.

These functions take one argument of type int, which is the character to convert, and return the converted character as an int. If the conversion is not applicable to the argument given, the argument is returned unchanged.

Compatibility Note: In pre-ISO C dialects, instead of returning the argument unchanged, these functions may fail when the argument is not suitable for the conversion. Thus for portability, you may need to write islower(c) ? toupper(c) : c rather than just toupper(c).

These functions are declared in the header file `ctype.h'.

Function: int tolower (int c)
If c is an upper-case letter, tolower returns the corresponding lower-case letter. If c is not an upper-case letter, c is returned unchanged.

Function: int toupper (int c)
If c is a lower-case letter, tolower returns the corresponding upper-case letter. Otherwise c is returned unchanged.

Function: int toascii (int c)
This function converts c to a 7-bit unsigned char value that fits into the US/UK ASCII character set, by clearing the high-order bits. This function is a BSD extension and is also an SVID extension.

Function: int _tolower (int c)
This is identical to tolower, and is provided for compatibility with the SVID. See section SVID (The System V Interface Description).

Function: int _toupper (int c)
This is identical to toupper, and is provided for compatibility with the SVID.

String and Array Utilities

Operations on strings (or arrays of characters) are an important part of many programs. The GNU C library provides an extensive set of string utility functions, including functions for copying, concatenating, comparing, and searching strings. Many of these functions can also operate on arbitrary regions of storage; for example, the memcpy function can be used to copy the contents of any kind of array.

It's fairly common for beginning C programmers to "reinvent the wheel" by duplicating this functionality in their own code, but it pays to become familiar with the library functions and to make use of them, since this offers benefits in maintenance, efficiency, and portability.

For instance, you could easily compare one string to another in two lines of C code, but if you use the built-in strcmp function, you're less likely to make a mistake. And, since these library functions are typically highly optimized, your program may run faster too.

Representation of Strings

This section is a quick summary of string concepts for beginning C programmers. It describes how character strings are represented in C and some common pitfalls. If you are already familiar with this material, you can skip this section.

A string is an array of char objects. But string-valued variables are usually declared to be pointers of type char *. Such variables do not include space for the text of a string; that has to be stored somewhere else--in an array variable, a string constant, or dynamically allocated memory (see section Memory Allocation). It's up to you to store the address of the chosen memory space into the pointer variable. Alternatively you can store a null pointer in the pointer variable. The null pointer does not point anywhere, so attempting to reference the string it points to gets an error.

By convention, a null character, '\0', marks the end of a string. For example, in testing to see whether the char * variable p points to a null character marking the end of a string, you can write !*p or *p == '\0'.

A null character is quite different conceptually from a null pointer, although both are represented by the integer 0.

String literals appear in C program source as strings of characters between double-quote characters (`"'). In ISO C, string literals can also be formed by string concatenation: "a" "b" is the same as "ab". Modification of string literals is not allowed by the GNU C compiler, because literals are placed in read-only storage.

Character arrays that are declared const cannot be modified either. It's generally good style to declare non-modifiable string pointers to be of type const char *, since this often allows the C compiler to detect accidental modifications as well as providing some amount of documentation about what your program intends to do with the string.

The amount of memory allocated for the character array may extend past the null character that normally marks the end of the string. In this document, the term allocation size is always used to refer to the total amount of memory allocated for the string, while the term length refers to the number of characters up to (but not including) the terminating null character.

A notorious source of program bugs is trying to put more characters in a string than fit in its allocated size. When writing code that extends strings or moves characters into a pre-allocated array, you should be very careful to keep track of the length of the text and make explicit checks for overflowing the array. Many of the library functions do not do this for you! Remember also that you need to allocate an extra byte to hold the null character that marks the end of the string.

String and Array Conventions

This chapter describes both functions that work on arbitrary arrays or blocks of memory, and functions that are specific to null-terminated arrays of characters.

Functions that operate on arbitrary blocks of memory have names beginning with `mem' (such as memcpy) and invariably take an argument which specifies the size (in bytes) of the block of memory to operate on. The array arguments and return values for these functions have type void *, and as a matter of style, the elements of these arrays are referred to as "bytes". You can pass any kind of pointer to these functions, and the sizeof operator is useful in computing the value for the size argument.

In contrast, functions that operate specifically on strings have names beginning with `str' (such as strcpy) and look for a null character to terminate the string instead of requiring an explicit size argument to be passed. (Some of these functions accept a specified maximum length, but they also check for premature termination with a null character.) The array arguments and return values for these functions have type char *, and the array elements are referred to as "characters".

In many cases, there are both `mem' and `str' versions of a function. The one that is more appropriate to use depends on the exact situation. When your program is manipulating arbitrary arrays or blocks of storage, then you should always use the `mem' functions. On the other hand, when you are manipulating null-terminated strings it is usually more convenient to use the `str' functions, unless you already know the length of the string in advance.

String Length

You can get the length of a string using the strlen function. This function is declared in the header file `string.h'.

Function: size_t strlen (const char *s)
The strlen function returns the length of the null-terminated string s. (In other words, it returns the offset of the terminating null character within the array.)

For example,

strlen ("hello, world")
    => 12

When applied to a character array, the strlen function returns the length of the string stored there, not its allocation size. You can get the allocation size of the character array that holds a string using the sizeof operator:

char string[32] = "hello, world";
sizeof (string)
    => 32
strlen (string)
    => 12

Copying and Concatenation

You can use the functions described in this section to copy the contents of strings and arrays, or to append the contents of one string to another. These functions are declared in the header file `string.h'.

A helpful way to remember the ordering of the arguments to the functions in this section is that it corresponds to an assignment expression, with the destination array specified to the left of the source array. All of these functions return the address of the destination array.

Most of these functions do not work properly if the source and destination arrays overlap. For example, if the beginning of the destination array overlaps the end of the source array, the original contents of that part of the source array may get overwritten before it is copied. Even worse, in the case of the string functions, the null character marking the end of the string may be lost, and the copy function might get stuck in a loop trashing all the memory allocated to your program.

All functions that have problems copying between overlapping arrays are explicitly identified in this manual. In addition to functions in this section, there are a few others like sprintf (see section Formatted Output Functions) and scanf (see section Formatted Input Functions).

Function: void * memcpy (void *to, const void *from, size_t size)
The memcpy function copies size bytes from the object beginning at from into the object beginning at to. The behavior of this function is undefined if the two arrays to and from overlap; use memmove instead if overlapping is possible.

The value returned by memcpy is the value of to.

Here is an example of how you might use memcpy to copy the contents of an array:

struct foo *oldarray, *newarray;
int arraysize;
...
memcpy (new, old, arraysize * sizeof (struct foo));

Function: void * memmove (void *to, const void *from, size_t size)
memmove copies the size bytes at from into the size bytes at to, even if those two blocks of space overlap. In the case of overlap, memmove is careful to copy the original values of the bytes in the block at from, including those bytes which also belong to the block at to.

Function: void * memccpy (void *to, const void *from, int c, size_t size)
This function copies no more than size bytes from from to to, stopping if a byte matching c is found. The return value is a pointer into to one byte past where c was copied, or a null pointer if no byte matching c appeared in the first size bytes of from.

Function: void * memset (void *block, int c, size_t size)
This function copies the value of c (converted to an unsigned char) into each of the first size bytes of the object beginning at block. It returns the value of block.

Function: char * strcpy (char *to, const char *from)
This copies characters from the string from (up to and including the terminating null character) into the string to. Like memcpy, this function has undefined results if the strings overlap. The return value is the value of to.

Function: char * strncpy (char *to, const char *from, size_t size)
This function is similar to strcpy but always copies exactly size characters into to.

If the length of from is more than size, then strncpy copies just the first size characters. Note that in this case there is no null terminator written into to.

If the length of from is less than size, then strncpy copies all of from, followed by enough null characters to add up to size characters in all. This behavior is rarely useful, but it is specified by the ISO C standard.

The behavior of strncpy is undefined if the strings overlap.

Using strncpy as opposed to strcpy is a way to avoid bugs relating to writing past the end of the allocated space for to. However, it can also make your program much slower in one common case: copying a string which is probably small into a potentially large buffer. In this case, size may be large, and when it is, strncpy will waste a considerable amount of time copying null characters.

Function: char * strdup (const char *s)
This function copies the null-terminated string s into a newly allocated string. The string is allocated using malloc; see section Unconstrained Allocation. If malloc cannot allocate space for the new string, strdup returns a null pointer. Otherwise it returns a pointer to the new string.

Function: char * strndup (const char *s, size_t size)
This function is similar to strdup but always copies at most size characters into the newly allocated string.

If the length of s is more than size, then strndup copies just the first size characters and adds a closing null terminator. Otherwise all characters are copied and the string is terminated.

This function is different to strncpy in that it always terminates the destination string.

Function: char * stpcpy (char *to, const char *from)
This function is like strcpy, except that it returns a pointer to the end of the string to (that is, the address of the terminating null character) rather than the beginning.

For example, this program uses stpcpy to concatenate `foo' and `bar' to produce `foobar', which it then prints.

#include <string.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int
main (void)
{
  char buffer[10];
  char *to = buffer;
  to = stpcpy (to, "foo");
  to = stpcpy (to, "bar");
  puts (buffer);
  return 0;
}

This function is not part of the ISO or POSIX standards, and is not customary on Unix systems, but we did not invent it either. Perhaps it comes from MS-DOG.

Its behavior is undefined if the strings overlap.

Function: char * stpncpy (char *to, const char *from, size_t size)
This function is similar to stpcpy but copies always exactly size characters into to.

If the length of from is more then size, then stpncpy copies just the first size characters and returns a pointer to the character directly following the one which was copied last. Note that in this case there is no null terminator written into to.

If the length of from is less than size, then stpncpy copies all of from, followed by enough null characters to add up to size characters in all. This behaviour is rarely useful, but it is implemented to be useful in contexts where this behaviour of the strncpy is used. stpncpy returns a pointer to the first written null character.

This function is not part of ISO or POSIX but was found useful while developing GNU C Library itself.

Its behaviour is undefined if the strings overlap.

Function: char * strdupa (const char *s)
This function is similar to strdup but allocates the new string using alloca instead of malloc see section Automatic Storage with Variable Size. This means of course the returned string has the same limitations as any block of memory allocated using alloca.

For obvious reasons strdupa is implemented only as a macro. I.e., you cannot get the address of this function. Despite this limitations it is a useful function. The following code shows a situation where using malloc would be a lot more expensive.

#include <paths.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdio.h>

const char path[] = _PATH_STDPATH;

int
main (void)
{
  char *wr_path = strdupa (path);
  char *cp = strtok (wr_path, ":");

  while (cp != NULL)
    {
      puts (cp);
      cp = strtok (NULL, ":");
    }
  return 0;
}

Please note that calling strtok using path directly is illegal.

This function is only available if GNU CC is used.

Function: char * strndupa (const char *s, size_t size)
This function is similar to strndup but like strdupa it allocates the new string using alloca see section Automatic Storage with Variable Size. The same advantages and limitations of strdupa are valid for strndupa, too.

This function is implemented only as a macro which means one cannot get the address of it.

strndupa is only available if GNU CC is used.

Function: char * strcat (char *to, const char *from)
The strcat function is similar to strcpy, except that the characters from from are concatenated or appended to the end of to, instead of overwriting it. That is, the first character from from overwrites the null character marking the end of to.

An equivalent definition for strcat would be:

char *
strcat (char *to, const char *from)
{
  strcpy (to + strlen (to), from);
  return to;
}

This function has undefined results if the strings overlap.

Function: char * strncat (char *to, const char *from, size_t size)
This function is like strcat except that not more than size characters from from are appended to the end of to. A single null character is also always appended to to, so the total allocated size of to must be at least size + 1 bytes longer than its initial length.

The strncat function could be implemented like this:

char *
strncat (char *to, const char *from, size_t size)
{
  strncpy (to + strlen (to), from, size);
  return to;
}

The behavior of strncat is undefined if the strings overlap.

Here is an example showing the use of strncpy and strncat. Notice how, in the call to strncat, the size parameter is computed to avoid overflowing the character array buffer.

#include <string.h>
#include <stdio.h>

#define SIZE 10

static char buffer[SIZE];

main ()
{
  strncpy (buffer, "hello", SIZE);
  puts (buffer);
  strncat (buffer, ", world", SIZE - strlen (buffer) - 1);
  puts (buffer);
}

The output produced by this program looks like:

hello
hello, wo

Function: void * bcopy (void *from, const void *to, size_t size)
This is a partially obsolete alternative for memmove, derived from BSD. Note that it is not quite equivalent to memmove, because the arguments are not in the same order.

Function: void * bzero (void *block, size_t size)
This is a partially obsolete alternative for memset, derived from BSD. Note that it is not as general as memset, because the only value it can store is zero.

String/Array Comparison

You can use the functions in this section to perform comparisons on the contents of strings and arrays. As well as checking for equality, these functions can also be used as the ordering functions for sorting operations. See section Searching and Sorting, for an example of this.

Unlike most comparison operations in C, the string comparison functions return a nonzero value if the strings are not equivalent rather than if they are. The sign of the value indicates the relative ordering of the first characters in the strings that are not equivalent: a negative value indicates that the first string is "less" than the second, while a positive value indicates that the first string is "greater".

The most common use of these functions is to check only for equality. This is canonically done with an expression like `! strcmp (s1, s2)'.

All of these functions are declared in the header file `string.h'.

Function: int memcmp (const void *a1, const void *a2, size_t size)
The function memcmp compares the size bytes of memory beginning at a1 against the size bytes of memory beginning at a2. The value returned has the same sign as the difference between the first differing pair of bytes (interpreted as unsigned char objects, then promoted to int).

If the contents of the two blocks are equal, memcmp returns 0.

On arbitrary arrays, the memcmp function is mostly useful for testing equality. It usually isn't meaningful to do byte-wise ordering comparisons on arrays of things other than bytes. For example, a byte-wise comparison on the bytes that make up floating-point numbers isn't likely to tell you anything about the relationship between the values of the floating-point numbers.

You should also be careful about using memcmp to compare objects that can contain "holes", such as the padding inserted into structure objects to enforce alignment requirements, extra space at the end of unions, and extra characters at the ends of strings whose length is less than their allocated size. The contents of these "holes" are indeterminate and may cause strange behavior when performing byte-wise comparisons. For more predictable results, perform an explicit component-wise comparison.

For example, given a structure type definition like:

struct foo
  {
    unsigned char tag;
    union
      {
        double f;
        long i;
        char *p;
      } value;
  };

you are better off writing a specialized comparison function to compare struct foo objects instead of comparing them with memcmp.

Function: int strcmp (const char *s1, const char *s2)
The strcmp function compares the string s1 against s2, returning a value that has the same sign as the difference between the first differing pair of characters (interpreted as unsigned char objects, then promoted to int).

If the two strings are equal, strcmp returns 0.

A consequence of the ordering used by strcmp is that if s1 is an initial substring of s2, then s1 is considered to be "less than" s2.

Function: int strcasecmp (const char *s1, const char *s2)
This function is like strcmp, except that differences in case are ignored.

strcasecmp is derived from BSD.

Function: int strncasecmp (const char *s1, const char *s2, size_t n)
This function is like strncmp, except that differences in case are ignored.

strncasecmp is a GNU extension.

Function: int strncmp (const char *s1, const char *s2, size_t size)
This function is the similar to strcmp, except that no more than size characters are compared. In other words, if the two strings are the same in their first size characters, the return value is zero.

Here are some examples showing the use of strcmp and strncmp. These examples assume the use of the ASCII character set. (If some other character set--say, EBCDIC--is used instead, then the glyphs are associated with different numeric codes, and the return values and ordering may differ.)

strcmp ("hello", "hello")
    => 0    /* These two strings are the same. */
strcmp ("hello", "Hello")
    => 32   /* Comparisons are case-sensitive. */
strcmp ("hello", "world")
    => -15  /* The character 'h' comes before 'w'. */
strcmp ("hello", "hello, world")
    => -44  /* Comparing a null character against a comma. */
strncmp ("hello", "hello, world", 5)
    => 0    /* The initial 5 characters are the same. */
strncmp ("hello, world", "hello, stupid world!!!", 5)
    => 0    /* The initial 5 characters are the same. */

Function: int bcmp (const void *a1, const void *a2, size_t size)
This is an obsolete alias for memcmp, derived from BSD.

Collation Functions

In some locales, the conventions for lexicographic ordering differ from the strict numeric ordering of character codes. For example, in Spanish most glyphs with diacritical marks such as accents are not considered distinct letters for the purposes of collation. On the other hand, the two-character sequence `ll' is treated as a single letter that is collated immediately after `l'.

You can use the functions strcoll and strxfrm (declared in the header file `string.h') to compare strings using a collation ordering appropriate for the current locale. The locale used by these functions in particular can be specified by setting the locale for the LC_COLLATE category; see section Locales and Internationalization.

In the standard C locale, the collation sequence for strcoll is the same as that for strcmp.

Effectively, the way these functions work is by applying a mapping to transform the characters in a string to a byte sequence that represents the string's position in the collating sequence of the current locale. Comparing two such byte sequences in a simple fashion is equivalent to comparing the strings with the locale's collating sequence.

The function strcoll performs this translation implicitly, in order to do one comparison. By contrast, strxfrm performs the mapping explicitly. If you are making multiple comparisons using the same string or set of strings, it is likely to be more efficient to use strxfrm to transform all the strings just once, and subsequently compare the transformed strings with strcmp.

Function: int strcoll (const char *s1, const char *s2)
The strcoll function is similar to strcmp but uses the collating sequence of the current locale for collation (the LC_COLLATE locale).

Here is an example of sorting an array of strings, using strcoll to compare them. The actual sort algorithm is not written here; it comes from qsort (see section Array Sort Function). The job of the code shown here is to say how to compare the strings while sorting them. (Later on in this section, we will show a way to do this more efficiently using strxfrm.)

/* This is the comparison function used with qsort. */

int
compare_elements (char **p1, char **p2)
{
  return strcoll (*p1, *p2);
}

/* This is the entry point---the function to sort
   strings using the locale's collating sequence. */

void
sort_strings (char **array, int nstrings)
{
  /* Sort temp_array by comparing the strings. */
  qsort (array, sizeof (char *),
         nstrings, compare_elements);
}

Function: size_t strxfrm (char *to, const char *from, size_t size)
The function strxfrm transforms string using the collation transformation determined by the locale currently selected for collation, and stores the transformed string in the array to. Up to size characters (including a terminating null character) are stored.

The behavior is undefined if the strings to and from overlap; see section Copying and Concatenation.

The return value is the length of the entire transformed string. This value is not affected by the value of size, but if it is greater or equal than size, it means that the transformed string did not entirely fit in the array to. In this case, only as much of the string as actually fits was stored. To get the whole transformed string, call strxfrm again with a bigger output array.

The transformed string may be longer than the original string, and it may also be shorter.

If size is zero, no characters are stored in to. In this case, strxfrm simply returns the number of characters that would be the length of the transformed string. This is useful for determining what size string to allocate. It does not matter what to is if size is zero; to may even be a null pointer.

Here is an example of how you can use strxfrm when you plan to do many comparisons. It does the same thing as the previous example, but much faster, because it has to transform each string only once, no matter how many times it is compared with other strings. Even the time needed to allocate and free storage is much less than the time we save, when there are many strings.

struct sorter { char *input; char *transformed; };

/* This is the comparison function used with qsort
   to sort an array of struct sorter. */

int
compare_elements (struct sorter *p1, struct sorter *p2)
{
  return strcmp (p1->transformed, p2->transformed);
}

/* This is the entry point---the function to sort
   strings using the locale's collating sequence. */

void
sort_strings_fast (char **array, int nstrings)
{
  struct sorter temp_array[nstrings];
  int i;

  /* Set up temp_array.  Each element contains
     one input string and its transformed string. */
  for (i = 0; i < nstrings; i++)
    {
      size_t length = strlen (array[i]) * 2;
      char *transformed;
      size_t transformed_lenght;

      temp_array[i].input = array[i];

      /* First try a buffer perhaps big enough.  */
      transformed = (char *) xmalloc (length);

      /* Transform array[i].  */
      transformed_length = strxfrm (transformed, array[i], length);

      /* If the buffer was not large enough, resize it
         and try again.  */
      if (transformed_length >= length)
        {
          /* Allocate the needed space. +1 for terminating
             NUL character.  */
          transformed = (char *) xrealloc (transformed,
                                           transformed_length + 1);

          /* The return value is not interesting because we know
             how long the transformed string is.  */
          (void) strxfrm (transformed, array[i], transformed_length + 1);
        }

      temp_array[i].transformed = transformed;
    }

  /* Sort temp_array by comparing transformed strings. */
  qsort (temp_array, sizeof (struct sorter),
         nstrings, compare_elements);

  /* Put the elements back in the permanent array
     in their sorted order. */
  for (i = 0; i < nstrings; i++)
    array[i] = temp_array[i].input;

  /* Free the strings we allocated. */
  for (i = 0; i < nstrings; i++)
    free (temp_array[i].transformed);
}

Compatibility Note: The string collation functions are a new feature of ISO C. Older C dialects have no equivalent feature.

Search Functions

This section describes library functions which perform various kinds of searching operations on strings and arrays. These functions are declared in the header file `string.h'.

Function: void * memchr (const void *block, int c, size_t size)
This function finds the first occurrence of the byte c (converted to an unsigned char) in the initial size bytes of the object beginning at block. The return value is a pointer to the located byte, or a null pointer if no match was found.

Function: char * strchr (const char *string, int c)
The strchr function finds the first occurrence of the character c (converted to a char) in the null-terminated string beginning at string. The return value is a pointer to the located character, or a null pointer if no match was found.

For example,

strchr ("hello, world", 'l')
    => "llo, world"
strchr ("hello, world", '?')
    => NULL

The terminating null character is considered to be part of the string, so you can use this function get a pointer to the end of a string by specifying a null character as the value of the c argument.

Function: char * index (const char *string, int c)
index is another name for strchr; they are exactly the same.

Function: char * strrchr (const char *string, int c)
The function strrchr is like strchr, except that it searches backwards from the end of the string string (instead of forwards from the front).

For example,

strrchr ("hello, world", 'l')
    => "ld"

Function: char * rindex (const char *string, int c)
rindex is another name for strrchr; they are exactly the same.

Function: char * strstr (const char *haystack, const char *needle)
This is like strchr, except that it searches haystack for a substring needle rather than just a single character. It returns a pointer into the string haystack that is the first character of the substring, or a null pointer if no match was found. If needle is an empty string, the function returns haystack.

For example,

strstr ("hello, world", "l")
    => "llo, world"
strstr ("hello, world", "wo")
    => "world"

Function: void * memmem (const void *haystack, size_t haystack-len,
const void *needle, size_t needle-len)
This is like strstr, but needle and haystack are byte arrays rather than null-terminated strings. needle-len is the length of needle and haystack-len is the length of haystack.

This function is a GNU extension.

Function: size_t strspn (const char *string, const char *skipset)
The strspn ("string span") function returns the length of the initial substring of string that consists entirely of characters that are members of the set specified by the string skipset. The order of the characters in skipset is not important.

For example,

strspn ("hello, world", "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz")
    => 5

Function: size_t strcspn (const char *string, const char *stopset)
The strcspn ("string complement span") function returns the length of the initial substring of string that consists entirely of characters that are not members of the set specified by the string stopset. (In other words, it returns the offset of the first character in string that is a member of the set stopset.)

For example,

strcspn ("hello, world", " \t\n,.;!?")
    => 5

Function: char * strpbrk (const char *string, const char *stopset)
The strpbrk ("string pointer break") function is related to strcspn, except that it returns a pointer to the first character in string that is a member of the set stopset instead of the length of the initial substring. It returns a null pointer if no such character from stopset is found.

For example,

strpbrk ("hello, world", " \t\n,.;!?")
    => ", world"

Finding Tokens in a String

It's fairly common for programs to have a need to do some simple kinds of lexical analysis and parsing, such as splitting a command string up into tokens. You can do this with the strtok function, declared in the header file `string.h'.

Function: char * strtok (char *newstring, const char *delimiters)
A string can be split into tokens by making a series of calls to the function strtok.

The string to be split up is passed as the newstring argument on the first call only. The strtok function uses this to set up some internal state information. Subsequent calls to get additional tokens from the same string are indicated by passing a null pointer as the newstring argument. Calling strtok with another non-null newstring argument reinitializes the state information. It is guaranteed that no other library function ever calls strtok behind your back (which would mess up this internal state information).

The delimiters argument is a string that specifies a set of delimiters that may surround the token being extracted. All the initial characters that are members of this set are discarded. The first character that is not a member of this set of delimiters marks the beginning of the next token. The end of the token is found by looking for the next character that is a member of the delimiter set. This character in the original string newstring is overwritten by a null character, and the pointer to the beginning of the token in newstring is returned.

On the next call to strtok, the searching begins at the next character beyond the one that marked the end of the previous token. Note that the set of delimiters delimiters do not have to be the same on every call in a series of calls to strtok.

If the end of the string newstring is reached, or if the remainder of string consists only of delimiter characters, strtok returns a null pointer.

Warning: Since strtok alters the string it is parsing, you always copy the string to a temporary buffer before parsing it with strtok. If you allow strtok to modify a string that came from another part of your program, you are asking for trouble; that string may be part of a data structure that could be used for other purposes during the parsing, when alteration by strtok makes the data structure temporarily inaccurate.

The string that you are operating on might even be a constant. Then when strtok tries to modify it, your program will get a fatal signal for writing in read-only memory. See section Program Error Signals.

This is a special case of a general principle: if a part of a program does not have as its purpose the modification of a certain data structure, then it is error-prone to modify the data structure temporarily.

The function strtok is not reentrant. See section Signal Handling and Nonreentrant Functions, for a discussion of where and why reentrancy is important.

Here is a simple example showing the use of strtok.

#include <string.h>
#include <stddef.h>

...

char string[] = "words separated by spaces -- and, punctuation!";
const char delimiters[] = " .,;:!-";
char *token;

...

token = strtok (string, delimiters);  /* token => "words" */
token = strtok (NULL, delimiters);    /* token => "separated" */
token = strtok (NULL, delimiters);    /* token => "by" */
token = strtok (NULL, delimiters);    /* token => "spaces" */
token = strtok (NULL, delimiters);    /* token => "and" */
token = strtok (NULL, delimiters);    /* token => "punctuation" */
token = strtok (NULL, delimiters);    /* token => NULL */

The GNU C library contains two more functions for tokenizing a string which overcome the limitation of non-reentrancy.

Function: char * strtok_r (char *newstring, const char *delimiters, char **save_ptr)
Just like strtok this function splits the string into several tokens which can be accessed be successive calls to strtok_r. The difference is that the information about the next token is not set up in some internal state information. Instead the caller has to provide another argument save_ptr which is a pointer to a string pointer. Calling strtok_r with a null pointer for newstring and leaving save_ptr between the calls unchanged does the job without limiting reentrancy.

This function was proposed for POSIX.1b and can be found on many systems which support multi-threading.

Function: char * strsep (char **string_ptr, const char *delimiter)
A second reentrant approach is to avoid the additional first argument. The initialization of the moving pointer has to be done by the user. Successive calls of strsep move the pointer along the tokens separated by delimiter, returning the address of the next token and updating string_ptr to point to the beginning of the next token.

This function was introduced in 4.3BSD and therefore is widely available.

Here is how the above example looks like when strsep is used.

#include <string.h>
#include <stddef.h>

...

char string[] = "words separated by spaces -- and, punctuation!";
const char delimiters[] = " .,;:!-";
char *running;
char *token;

...

running = string;
token = strsep (&running, delimiters);    /* token => "words" */
token = strsep (&running, delimiters);    /* token => "separated" */
token = strsep (&running, delimiters);    /* token => "by" */
token = strsep (&running, delimiters);    /* token => "spaces" */
token = strsep (&running, delimiters);    /* token => "and" */
token = strsep (&running, delimiters);    /* token => "punctuation" */
token = strsep (&running, delimiters);    /* token => NULL */

Input/Output Overview

Most programs need to do either input (reading data) or output (writing data), or most frequently both, in order to do anything useful. The GNU C library provides such a large selection of input and output functions that the hardest part is often deciding which function is most appropriate!

This chapter introduces concepts and terminology relating to input and output. Other chapters relating to the GNU I/O facilities are:

Input/Output Concepts

Before you can read or write the contents of a file, you must establish a connection or communications channel to the file. This process is called opening the file. You can open a file for reading, writing, or both.

The connection to an open file is represented either as a stream or as a file descriptor. You pass this as an argument to the functions that do the actual read or write operations, to tell them which file to operate on. Certain functions expect streams, and others are designed to operate on file descriptors.

When you have finished reading to or writing from the file, you can terminate the connection by closing the file. Once you have closed a stream or file descriptor, you cannot do any more input or output operations on it.

Streams and File Descriptors

When you want to do input or output to a file, you have a choice of two basic mechanisms for representing the connection between your program and the file: file descriptors and streams. File descriptors are represented as objects of type int, while streams are represented as FILE * objects.

File descriptors provide a primitive, low-level interface to input and output operations. Both file descriptors and streams can represent a connection to a device (such as a terminal), or a pipe or socket for communicating with another process, as well as a normal file. But, if you want to do control operations that are specific to a particular kind of device, you must use a file descriptor; there are no facilities to use streams in this way. You must also use file descriptors if your program needs to do input or output in special modes, such as nonblocking (or polled) input (see section File Status Flags).

Streams provide a higher-level interface, layered on top of the primitive file descriptor facilities. The stream interface treats all kinds of files pretty much alike--the sole exception being the three styles of buffering that you can choose (see section Stream Buffering).

The main advantage of using the stream interface is that the set of functions for performing actual input and output operations (as opposed to control operations) on streams is much richer and more powerful than the corresponding facilities for file descriptors. The file descriptor interface provides only simple functions for transferring blocks of characters, but the stream interface also provides powerful formatted input and output functions (printf and scanf) as well as functions for character- and line-oriented input and output.

Since streams are implemented in terms of file descriptors, you can extract the file descriptor from a stream and perform low-level operations directly on the file descriptor. You can also initially open a connection as a file descriptor and then make a stream associated with that file descriptor.

In general, you should stick with using streams rather than file descriptors, unless there is some specific operation you want to do that can only be done on a file descriptor. If you are a beginning programmer and aren't sure what functions to use, we suggest that you concentrate on the formatted input functions (see section Formatted Input) and formatted output functions (see section Formatted Output).

If you are concerned about portability of your programs to systems other than GNU, you should also be aware that file descriptors are not as portable as streams. You can expect any system running ISO C to support streams, but non-GNU systems may not support file descriptors at all, or may only implement a subset of the GNU functions that operate on file descriptors. Most of the file descriptor functions in the GNU library are included in the POSIX.1 standard, however.

File Position

One of the attributes of an open file is its file position that keeps track of where in the file the next character is to be read or written. In the GNU system, and all POSIX.1 systems, the file position is simply an integer representing the number of bytes from the beginning of the file.

The file position is normally set to the beginning of the file when it is opened, and each time a character is read or written, the file position is incremented. In other words, access to the file is normally sequential.

Ordinary files permit read or write operations at any position within the file. Some other kinds of files may also permit this. Files which do permit this are sometimes referred to as random-access files. You can change the file position using the fseek function on a stream (see section File Positioning) or the lseek function on a file descriptor (see section Input and Output Primitives). If you try to change the file position on a file that doesn't support random access, you get the ESPIPE error.

Streams and descriptors that are opened for append access are treated specially for output: output to such files is always appended sequentially to the end of the file, regardless of the file position. However, the file position is still used to control where in the file reading is done.

If you think about it, you'll realize that several programs can read a given file at the same time. In order for each program to be able to read the file at its own pace, each program must have its own file pointer, which is not affected by anything the other programs do.

In fact, each opening of a file creates a separate file position. Thus, if you open a file twice even in the same program, you get two streams or descriptors with independent file positions.

By contrast, if you open a descriptor and then duplicate it to get another descriptor, these two descriptors share the same file position: changing the file position of one descriptor will affect the other.

File Names

In order to open a connection to a file, or to perform other operations such as deleting a file, you need some way to refer to the file. Nearly all files have names that are strings--even files which are actually devices such as tape drives or terminals. These strings are called file names. You specify the file name to say which file you want to open or operate on.

This section describes the conventions for file names and how the operating system works with them.

Directories

In order to understand the syntax of file names, you need to understand how the file system is organized into a hierarchy of directories.

A directory is a file that contains information to associate other files with names; these associations are called links or directory entries. Sometimes, people speak of "files in a directory", but in reality, a directory only contains pointers to files, not the files themselves.

The name of a file contained in a directory entry is called a file name component. In general, a file name consists of a sequence of one or more such components, separated by the slash character (`/'). A file name which is just one component names a file with respect to its directory. A file name with multiple components names a directory, and then a file in that directory, and so on.

Some other documents, such as the POSIX standard, use the term pathname for what we call a file name, and either filename or pathname component for what this manual calls a file name component. We don't use this terminology because a "path" is something completely different (a list of directories to search), and we think that "pathname" used for something else will confuse users. We always use "file name" and "file name component" (or sometimes just "component", where the context is obvious) in GNU documentation. Some macros use the POSIX terminology in their names, such as PATH_MAX. These macros are defined by the POSIX standard, so we cannot change their names.

You can find more detailed information about operations on directories in section File System Interface.

File Name Resolution

A file name consists of file name components separated by slash (`/') characters. On the systems that the GNU C library supports, multiple successive `/' characters are equivalent to a single `/' character.

The process of determining what file a file name refers to is called file name resolution. This is performed by examining the components that make up a file name in left-to-right order, and locating each successive component in the directory named by the previous component. Of course, each of the files that are referenced as directories must actually exist, be directories instead of regular files, and have the appropriate permissions to be accessible by the process; otherwise the file name resolution fails.

If a file name begins with a `/', the first component in the file name is located in the root directory of the process (usually all processes on the system have the same root directory). Such a file name is called an absolute file name.

Otherwise, the first component in the file name is located in the current working directory (see section Working Directory). This kind of file name is called a relative file name.

The file name components `.' ("dot") and `..' ("dot-dot") have special meanings. Every directory has entries for these file name components. The file name component `.' refers to the directory itself, while the file name component `..' refers to its parent directory (the directory that contains the link for the directory in question). As a special case, `..' in the root directory refers to the root directory itself, since it has no parent; thus `/..' is the same as `/'.

Here are some examples of file names:

`/a'
The file named `a', in the root directory.
`/a/b'
The file named `b', in the directory named `a' in the root directory.
`a'
The file named `a', in the current working directory.
`/a/./b'
This is the same as `/a/b'.
`./a'
The file named `a', in the current working directory.
`../a'
The file named `a', in the parent directory of the current working directory.

A file name that names a directory may optionally end in a `/'. You can specify a file name of `/' to refer to the root directory, but the empty string is not a meaningful file name. If you want to refer to the current working directory, use a file name of `.' or `./'.

Unlike some other operating systems, the GNU system doesn't have any built-in support for file types (or extensions) or file versions as part of its file name syntax. Many programs and utilities use conventions for file names--for example, files containing C source code usually have names suffixed with `.c'---but there is nothing in the file system itself that enforces this kind of convention.

File Name Errors

Functions that accept file name arguments usually detect these errno error conditions relating to the file name syntax or trouble finding the named file. These errors are referred to throughout this manual as the usual file name errors.

EACCES
The process does not have search permission for a directory component of the file name.
ENAMETOOLONG
This error is used when either the the total length of a file name is greater than PATH_MAX, or when an individual file name component has a length greater than NAME_MAX. See section Limits on File System Capacity. In the GNU system, there is no imposed limit on overall file name length, but some file systems may place limits on the length of a component.
ENOENT
This error is reported when a file referenced as a directory component in the file name doesn't exist, or when a component is a symbolic link whose target file does not exist. See section Symbolic Links.
ENOTDIR
A file that is referenced as a directory component in the file name exists, but it isn't a directory.
ELOOP
Too many symbolic links were resolved while trying to look up the file name. The system has an arbitrary limit on the number of symbolic links that may be resolved in looking up a single file name, as a primitive way to detect loops. See section Symbolic Links.

Portability of File Names

The rules for the syntax of file names discussed in section File Names, are the rules normally used by the GNU system and by other POSIX systems. However, other operating systems may use other conventions.

There are two reasons why it can be important for you to be aware of file name portability issues:

The ISO C standard says very little about file name syntax, only that file names are strings. In addition to varying restrictions on the length of file names and what characters can validly appear in a file name, different operating systems use different conventions and syntax for concepts such as structured directories and file types or extensions. Some concepts such as file versions might be supported in some operating systems and not by others.

The POSIX.1 standard allows implementations to put additional restrictions on file name syntax, concerning what characters are permitted in file names and on the length of file name and file name component strings. However, in the GNU system, you do not need to worry about these restrictions; any character except the null character is permitted in a file name string, and there are no limits on the length of file name strings.

Input/Output on Streams

This chapter describes the functions for creating streams and performing input and output operations on them. As discussed in section Input/Output Overview, a stream is a fairly abstract, high-level concept representing a communications channel to a file, device, or process.

Streams

For historical reasons, the type of the C data structure that represents a stream is called FILE rather than "stream". Since most of the library functions deal with objects of type FILE *, sometimes the term file pointer is also used to mean "stream". This leads to unfortunate confusion over terminology in many books on C. This manual, however, is careful to use the terms "file" and "stream" only in the technical sense.

The FILE type is declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Data Type: FILE
This is the data type used to represent stream objects. A FILE object holds all of the internal state information about the connection to the associated file, including such things as the file position indicator and buffering information. Each stream also has error and end-of-file status indicators that can be tested with the ferror and feof functions; see section End-Of-File and Errors.

FILE objects are allocated and managed internally by the input/output library functions. Don't try to create your own objects of type FILE; let the library do it. Your programs should deal only with pointers to these objects (that is, FILE * values) rather than the objects themselves.

Standard Streams

When the main function of your program is invoked, it already has three predefined streams open and available for use. These represent the "standard" input and output channels that have been established for the process.

These streams are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Variable: FILE * stdin
The standard input stream, which is the normal source of input for the program.

Variable: FILE * stdout
The standard output stream, which is used for normal output from the program.

Variable: FILE * stderr
The standard error stream, which is used for error messages and diagnostics issued by the program.

In the GNU system, you can specify what files or processes correspond to these streams using the pipe and redirection facilities provided by the shell. (The primitives shells use to implement these facilities are described in section File System Interface.) Most other operating systems provide similar mechanisms, but the details of how to use them can vary.

In the GNU C library, stdin, stdout, and stderr are normal variables which you can set just like any others. For example, to redirect the standard output to a file, you could do:

fclose (stdout);
stdout = fopen ("standard-output-file", "w");

Note however, that in other systems stdin, stdout, and stderr are macros that you cannot assign to in the normal way. But you can use freopen to get the effect of closing one and reopening it. See section Opening Streams.

Opening Streams

Opening a file with the fopen function creates a new stream and establishes a connection between the stream and a file. This may involve creating a new file.

Everything described in this section is declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Function: FILE * fopen (const char *filename, const char *opentype)
The fopen function opens a stream for I/O to the file filename, and returns a pointer to the stream.

The opentype argument is a string that controls how the file is opened and specifies attributes of the resulting stream. It must begin with one of the following sequences of characters:

`r'
Open an existing file for reading only.
`w'
Open the file for writing only. If the file already exists, it is truncated to zero length. Otherwise a new file is created.
`a'
Open a file for append access; that is, writing at the end of file only. If the file already exists, its initial contents are unchanged and output to the stream is appended to the end of the file. Otherwise, a new, empty file is created.
`r+'
Open an existing file for both reading and writing. The initial contents of the file are unchanged and the initial file position is at the beginning of the file.
`w+'
Open a file for both reading and writing. If the file already exists, it is truncated to zero length. Otherwise, a new file is created.
`a+'
Open or create file for both reading and appending. If the file exists, its initial contents are unchanged. Otherwise, a new file is created. The initial file position for reading is at the beginning of the file, but output is always appended to the end of the file.

As you can see, `+' requests a stream that can do both input and output. The ISO standard says that when using such a stream, you must call fflush (see section Stream Buffering) or a file positioning function such as fseek (see section File Positioning) when switching from reading to writing or vice versa. Otherwise, internal buffers might not be emptied properly. The GNU C library does not have this limitation; you can do arbitrary reading and writing operations on a stream in whatever order.

Additional characters may appear after these to specify flags for the call. Always put the mode (`r', `w+', etc.) first; that is the only part you are guaranteed will be understood by all systems.

The GNU C library defines one additional character for use in opentype: the character `x' insists on creating a new file--if a file filename already exists, fopen fails rather than opening it. If you use `x' you can are guaranteed that you will not clobber an existing file. This is equivalent to the O_EXCL option to the open function (see section Opening and Closing Files).

The character `b' in opentype has a standard meaning; it requests a binary stream rather than a text stream. But this makes no difference in POSIX systems (including the GNU system). If both `+' and `b' are specified, they can appear in either order. See section Text and Binary Streams.

Any other characters in opentype are simply ignored. They may be meaningful in other systems.

If the open fails, fopen returns a null pointer.

You can have multiple streams (or file descriptors) pointing to the same file open at the same time. If you do only input, this works straightforwardly, but you must be careful if any output streams are included. See section Dangers of Mixing Streams and Descriptors. This is equally true whether the streams are in one program (not usual) or in several programs (which can easily happen). It may be advantageous to use the file locking facilities to avoid simultaneous access. See section File Locks.

Macro: int FOPEN_MAX
The value of this macro is an integer constant expression that represents the minimum number of streams that the implementation guarantees can be open simultaneously. You might be able to open more than this many streams, but that is not guaranteed. The value of this constant is at least eight, which includes the three standard streams stdin, stdout, and stderr. In POSIX.1 systems this value is determined by the OPEN_MAX parameter; see section General Capacity Limits. In BSD and GNU, it is controlled by the RLIMIT_NOFILE resource limit; see section Limiting Resource Usage.

Function: FILE * freopen (const char *filename, const char *opentype, FILE *stream)
This function is like a combination of fclose and fopen. It first closes the stream referred to by stream, ignoring any errors that are detected in the process. (Because errors are ignored, you should not use freopen on an output stream if you have actually done any output using the stream.) Then the file named by filename is opened with mode opentype as for fopen, and associated with the same stream object stream.

If the operation fails, a null pointer is returned; otherwise, freopen returns stream.

freopen has traditionally been used to connect a standard stream such as stdin with a file of your own choice. This is useful in programs in which use of a standard stream for certain purposes is hard-coded. In the GNU C library, you can simply close the standard streams and open new ones with fopen. But other systems lack this ability, so using freopen is more portable.

Closing Streams

When a stream is closed with fclose, the connection between the stream and the file is cancelled. After you have closed a stream, you cannot perform any additional operations on it.

Function: int fclose (FILE *stream)
This function causes stream to be closed and the connection to the corresponding file to be broken. Any buffered output is written and any buffered input is discarded. The fclose function returns a value of 0 if the file was closed successfully, and EOF if an error was detected.

It is important to check for errors when you call fclose to close an output stream, because real, everyday errors can be detected at this time. For example, when fclose writes the remaining buffered output, it might get an error because the disk is full. Even if you know the buffer is empty, errors can still occur when closing a file if you are using NFS.

The function fclose is declared in `stdio.h'.

To close all streams currently available the GNU C Library provides another function.

Function: int fcloseall (void)
This function causes all open streams of the process to be closed and the connection to corresponding files to be broken. All buffered data is written and any buffered inputis discarded. The fcloseall function returns a value of 0 if all the files were closed successfully, and EOF if an error was detected.

This function should be used in only in special situation, e.g., when an error occurred and the program must be aborted. Normally each single stream should be closed separately so that problems with one stream can be identifier. It is also problematic since the standard streams (see section Standard Streams) will also be closed.

The function fcloseall is declared in `stdio.h'.

If the main function to your program returns, or if you call the exit function (see section Normal Termination), all open streams are automatically closed properly. If your program terminates in any other manner, such as by calling the abort function (see section Aborting a Program) or from a fatal signal (see section Signal Handling), open streams might not be closed properly. Buffered output might not be flushed and files may be incomplete. For more information on buffering of streams, see section Stream Buffering.

Simple Output by Characters or Lines

This section describes functions for performing character- and line-oriented output.

These functions are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Function: int fputc (int c, FILE *stream)
The fputc function converts the character c to type unsigned char, and writes it to the stream stream. EOF is returned if a write error occurs; otherwise the character c is returned.

Function: int putc (int c, FILE *stream)
This is just like fputc, except that most systems implement it as a macro, making it faster. One consequence is that it may evaluate the stream argument more than once, which is an exception to the general rule for macros. putc is usually the best function to use for writing a single character.

Function: int putchar (int c)
The putchar function is equivalent to putc with stdout as the value of the stream argument.

Function: int fputs (const char *s, FILE *stream)
The function fputs writes the string s to the stream stream. The terminating null character is not written. This function does not add a newline character, either. It outputs only the characters in the string.

This function returns EOF if a write error occurs, and otherwise a non-negative value.

For example:

fputs ("Are ", stdout);
fputs ("you ", stdout);
fputs ("hungry?\n", stdout);

outputs the text `Are you hungry?' followed by a newline.

Function: int puts (const char *s)
The puts function writes the string s to the stream stdout followed by a newline. The terminating null character of the string is not written. (Note that fputs does not write a newline as this function does.)

puts is the most convenient function for printing simple messages. For example:

puts ("This is a message.");

Function: int putw (int w, FILE *stream)
This function writes the word w (that is, an int) to stream. It is provided for compatibility with SVID, but we recommend you use fwrite instead (see section Block Input/Output).

Character Input

This section describes functions for performing character-oriented input. These functions are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

These functions return an int value that is either a character of input, or the special value EOF (usually -1). It is important to store the result of these functions in a variable of type int instead of char, even when you plan to use it only as a character. Storing EOF in a char variable truncates its value to the size of a character, so that it is no longer distinguishable from the valid character `(char) -1'. So always use an int for the result of getc and friends, and check for EOF after the call; once you've verified that the result is not EOF, you can be sure that it will fit in a `char' variable without loss of information.

Function: int fgetc (FILE *stream)
This function reads the next character as an unsigned char from the stream stream and returns its value, converted to an int. If an end-of-file condition or read error occurs, EOF is returned instead.

Function: int getc (FILE *stream)
This is just like fgetc, except that it is permissible (and typical) for it to be implemented as a macro that evaluates the stream argument more than once. getc is often highly optimized, so it is usually the best function to use to read a single character.

Function: int getchar (void)
The getchar function is equivalent to getc with stdin as the value of the stream argument.

Here is an example of a function that does input using fgetc. It would work just as well using getc instead, or using getchar () instead of fgetc (stdin).

int
y_or_n_p (const char *question)
{
  fputs (question, stdout);
  while (1)
    {
      int c, answer;
      /* Write a space to separate answer from question. */
      fputc (' ', stdout);
      /* Read the first character of the line.
         This should be the answer character, but might not be. */
      c = tolower (fgetc (stdin));
      answer = c;
      /* Discard rest of input line. */
      while (c != '\n' && c != EOF)
        c = fgetc (stdin);
      /* Obey the answer if it was valid. */
      if (answer == 'y')
        return 1;
      if (answer == 'n')
        return 0;
      /* Answer was invalid: ask for valid answer. */
      fputs ("Please answer y or n:", stdout);
    }
}

Function: int getw (FILE *stream)
This function reads a word (that is, an int) from stream. It's provided for compatibility with SVID. We recommend you use fread instead (see section Block Input/Output). Unlike getc, any int value could be a valid result. getw returns EOF when it encounters end-of-file or an error, but there is no way to distinguish this from an input word with value -1.

Line-Oriented Input

Since many programs interpret input on the basis of lines, it's convenient to have functions to read a line of text from a stream.

Standard C has functions to do this, but they aren't very safe: null characters and even (for gets) long lines can confuse them. So the GNU library provides the nonstandard getline function that makes it easy to read lines reliably.

Another GNU extension, getdelim, generalizes getline. It reads a delimited record, defined as everything through the next occurrence of a specified delimiter character.

All these functions are declared in `stdio.h'.

Function: ssize_t getline (char **lineptr, size_t *n, FILE *stream)
This function reads an entire line from stream, storing the text (including the newline and a terminating null character) in a buffer and storing the buffer address in *lineptr.

Before calling getline, you should place in *lineptr the address of a buffer *n bytes long, allocated with malloc. If this buffer is long enough to hold the line, getline stores the line in this buffer. Otherwise, getline makes the buffer bigger using realloc, storing the new buffer address back in *lineptr and the increased size back in *n. See section Unconstrained Allocation.

If you set *lineptr to a null pointer, and *n to zero, before the call, then getline allocates the initial buffer for you by calling malloc.

In either case, when getline returns, *lineptr is a char * which points to the text of the line.

When getline is successful, it returns the number of characters read (including the newline, but not including the terminating null). This value enables you to distinguish null characters that are part of the line from the null character inserted as a terminator.

This function is a GNU extension, but it is the recommended way to read lines from a stream. The alternative standard functions are unreliable.

If an error occurs or end of file is reached, getline returns -1.

Function: ssize_t getdelim (char **lineptr, size_t *n, int delimiter, FILE *stream)
This function is like getline except that the character which tells it to stop reading is not necessarily newline. The argument delimiter specifies the delimiter character; getdelim keeps reading until it sees that character (or end of file).

The text is stored in lineptr, including the delimiter character and a terminating null. Like getline, getdelim makes lineptr bigger if it isn't big enough.

getline is in fact implemented in terms of getdelim, just like this:

ssize_t
getline (char **lineptr, size_t *n, FILE *stream)
{
  return getdelim (lineptr, n, '\n', stream);
}

Function: char * fgets (char *s, int count, FILE *stream)
The fgets function reads characters from the stream stream up to and including a newline character and stores them in the string s, adding a null character to mark the end of the string. You must supply count characters worth of space in s, but the number of characters read is at most count - 1. The extra character space is used to hold the null character at the end of the string.

If the system is already at end of file when you call fgets, then the contents of the array s are unchanged and a null pointer is returned. A null pointer is also returned if a read error occurs. Otherwise, the return value is the pointer s.

Warning: If the input data has a null character, you can't tell. So don't use fgets unless you know the data cannot contain a null. Don't use it to read files edited by the user because, if the user inserts a null character, you should either handle it properly or print a clear error message. We recommend using getline instead of fgets.

Deprecated function: char * gets (char *s)
The function gets reads characters from the stream stdin up to the next newline character, and stores them in the string s. The newline character is discarded (note that this differs from the behavior of fgets, which copies the newline character into the string). If gets encounters a read error or end-of-file, it returns a null pointer; otherwise it returns s.

Warning: The gets function is very dangerous because it provides no protection against overflowing the string s. The GNU library includes it for compatibility only. You should always use fgets or getline instead. To remind you of this, the linker (if using GNU ld) will issue a warning whenever you use gets.

Unreading

In parser programs it is often useful to examine the next character in the input stream without removing it from the stream. This is called "peeking ahead" at the input because your program gets a glimpse of the input it will read next.

Using stream I/O, you can peek ahead at input by first reading it and then unreading it (also called pushing it back on the stream). Unreading a character makes it available to be input again from the stream, by the next call to fgetc or other input function on that stream.

What Unreading Means

Here is a pictorial explanation of unreading. Suppose you have a stream reading a file that contains just six characters, the letters `foobar'. Suppose you have read three characters so far. The situation looks like this:

f  o  o  b  a  r
         ^

so the next input character will be `b'.

If instead of reading `b' you unread the letter `o', you get a situation like this:

f  o  o  b  a  r
         |
      o--
      ^

so that the next input characters will be `o' and `b'.

If you unread `9' instead of `o', you get this situation:

f  o  o  b  a  r
         |
      9--
      ^

so that the next input characters will be `9' and `b'.

Using ungetc To Do Unreading

The function to unread a character is called ungetc, because it reverses the action of getc.

Function: int ungetc (int c, FILE *stream)
The ungetc function pushes back the character c onto the input stream stream. So the next input from stream will read c before anything else.

If c is EOF, ungetc does nothing and just returns EOF. This lets you call ungetc with the return value of getc without needing to check for an error from getc.

The character that you push back doesn't have to be the same as the last character that was actually read from the stream. In fact, it isn't necessary to actually read any characters from the stream before unreading them with ungetc! But that is a strange way to write a program; usually ungetc is used only to unread a character that was just read from the same stream.

The GNU C library only supports one character of pushback--in other words, it does not work to call ungetc twice without doing input in between. Other systems might let you push back multiple characters; then reading from the stream retrieves the characters in the reverse order that they were pushed.

Pushing back characters doesn't alter the file; only the internal buffering for the stream is affected. If a file positioning function (such as fseek or rewind; see section File Positioning) is called, any pending pushed-back characters are discarded.

Unreading a character on a stream that is at end of file clears the end-of-file indicator for the stream, because it makes the character of input available. After you read that character, trying to read again will encounter end of file.

Here is an example showing the use of getc and ungetc to skip over whitespace characters. When this function reaches a non-whitespace character, it unreads that character to be seen again on the next read operation on the stream.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <ctype.h>

void
skip_whitespace (FILE *stream)
{
  int c;
  do
    /* No need to check for EOF because it is not
       isspace, and ungetc ignores EOF.  */
    c = getc (stream);
  while (isspace (c));
  ungetc (c, stream);
}

Block Input/Output

This section describes how to do input and output operations on blocks of data. You can use these functions to read and write binary data, as well as to read and write text in fixed-size blocks instead of by characters or lines.

Binary files are typically used to read and write blocks of data in the same format as is used to represent the data in a running program. In other words, arbitrary blocks of memory--not just character or string objects--can be written to a binary file, and meaningfully read in again by the same program.

Storing data in binary form is often considerably more efficient than using the formatted I/O functions. Also, for floating-point numbers, the binary form avoids possible loss of precision in the conversion process. On the other hand, binary files can't be examined or modified easily using many standard file utilities (such as text editors), and are not portable between different implementations of the language, or different kinds of computers.

These functions are declared in `stdio.h'.

Function: size_t fread (void *data, size_t size, size_t count, FILE *stream)
This function reads up to count objects of size size into the array data, from the stream stream. It returns the number of objects actually read, which might be less than count if a read error occurs or the end of the file is reached. This function returns a value of zero (and doesn't read anything) if either size or count is zero.

If fread encounters end of file in the middle of an object, it returns the number of complete objects read, and discards the partial object. Therefore, the stream remains at the actual end of the file.

Function: size_t fwrite (const void *data, size_t size, size_t count, FILE *stream)
This function writes up to count objects of size size from the array data, to the stream stream. The return value is normally count, if the call succeeds. Any other value indicates some sort of error, such as running out of space.

Formatted Output

The functions described in this section (printf and related functions) provide a convenient way to perform formatted output. You call printf with a format string or template string that specifies how to format the values of the remaining arguments.

Unless your program is a filter that specifically performs line- or character-oriented processing, using printf or one of the other related functions described in this section is usually the easiest and most concise way to perform output. These functions are especially useful for printing error messages, tables of data, and the like.

Formatted Output Basics

The printf function can be used to print any number of arguments. The template string argument you supply in a call provides information not only about the number of additional arguments, but also about their types and what style should be used for printing them.

Ordinary characters in the template string are simply written to the output stream as-is, while conversion specifications introduced by a `%' character in the template cause subsequent arguments to be formatted and written to the output stream. For example,

int pct = 37;
char filename[] = "foo.txt";
printf ("Processing of `%s' is %d%% finished.\nPlease be patient.\n",
        filename, pct);

produces output like

Processing of `foo.txt' is 37% finished.
Please be patient.

This example shows the use of the `%d' conversion to specify that an int argument should be printed in decimal notation, the `%s' conversion to specify printing of a string argument, and the `%%' conversion to print a literal `%' character.

There are also conversions for printing an integer argument as an unsigned value in octal, decimal, or hexadecimal radix (`%o', `%u', or `%x', respectively); or as a character value (`%c').

Floating-point numbers can be printed in normal, fixed-point notation using the `%f' conversion or in exponential notation using the `%e' conversion. The `%g' conversion uses either `%e' or `%f' format, depending on what is more appropriate for the magnitude of the particular number.

You can control formatting more precisely by writing modifiers between the `%' and the character that indicates which conversion to apply. These slightly alter the ordinary behavior of the conversion. For example, most conversion specifications permit you to specify a minimum field width and a flag indicating whether you want the result left- or right-justified within the field.

The specific flags and modifiers that are permitted and their interpretation vary depending on the particular conversion. They're all described in more detail in the following sections. Don't worry if this all seems excessively complicated at first; you can almost always get reasonable free-format output without using any of the modifiers at all. The modifiers are mostly used to make the output look "prettier" in tables.

Output Conversion Syntax

This section provides details about the precise syntax of conversion specifications that can appear in a printf template string.

Characters in the template string that are not part of a conversion specification are printed as-is to the output stream. Multibyte character sequences (see section Extended Characters) are permitted in a template string.

The conversion specifications in a printf template string have the general form:

% flags width [ . precision ] type conversion

For example, in the conversion specifier `%-10.8ld', the `-' is a flag, `10' specifies the field width, the precision is `8', the letter `l' is a type modifier, and `d' specifies the conversion style. (This particular type specifier says to print a long int argument in decimal notation, with a minimum of 8 digits left-justified in a field at least 10 characters wide.)

In more detail, output conversion specifications consist of an initial `%' character followed in sequence by:

The exact options that are permitted and how they are interpreted vary between the different conversion specifiers. See the descriptions of the individual conversions for information about the particular options that they use.

With the `-Wformat' option, the GNU C compiler checks calls to printf and related functions. It examines the format string and verifies that the correct number and types of arguments are supplied. There is also a GNU C syntax to tell the compiler that a function you write uses a printf-style format string. See section `Declaring Attributes of Functions' in Using GNU CC, for more information.

Table of Output Conversions

Here is a table summarizing what all the different conversions do:

`%d', `%i'
Print an integer as a signed decimal number. See section Integer Conversions, for details. `%d' and `%i' are synonymous for output, but are different when used with scanf for input (see section Table of Input Conversions).
`%o'
Print an integer as an unsigned octal number. See section Integer Conversions, for details.
`%u'
Print an integer as an unsigned decimal number. See section Integer Conversions, for details.
`%x', `%X'
Print an integer as an unsigned hexadecimal number. `%x' uses lower-case letters and `%X' uses upper-case. See section Integer Conversions, for details.
`%f'
Print a floating-point number in normal (fixed-point) notation. See section Floating-Point Conversions, for details.
`%e', `%E'
Print a floating-point number in exponential notation. `%e' uses lower-case letters and `%E' uses upper-case. See section Floating-Point Conversions, for details.
`%g', `%G'
Print a floating-point number in either normal or exponential notation, whichever is more appropriate for its magnitude. `%g' uses lower-case letters and `%G' uses upper-case. See section Floating-Point Conversions, for details.
`%c'
Print a single character. See section Other Output Conversions.
`%s'
Print a string. See section Other Output Conversions.
`%p'
Print the value of a pointer. See section Other Output Conversions.
`%n'
Get the number of characters printed so far. See section Other Output Conversions. Note that this conversion specification never produces any output.
`%m'
Print the string corresponding to the value of errno. (This is a GNU extension.) See section Other Output Conversions.
`%%'
Print a literal `%' character. See section Other Output Conversions.

If the syntax of a conversion specification is invalid, unpredictable things will happen, so don't do this. If there aren't enough function arguments provided to supply values for all the conversion specifications in the template string, or if the arguments are not of the correct types, the results are unpredictable. If you supply more arguments than conversion specifications, the extra argument values are simply ignored; this is sometimes useful.

Integer Conversions

This section describes the options for the `%d', `%i', `%o', `%u', `%x', and `%X' conversion specifications. These conversions print integers in various formats.

The `%d' and `%i' conversion specifications both print an int argument as a signed decimal number; while `%o', `%u', and `%x' print the argument as an unsigned octal, decimal, or hexadecimal number (respectively). The `%X' conversion specification is just like `%x' except that it uses the characters `ABCDEF' as digits instead of `abcdef'.

The following flags are meaningful:

`-'
Left-justify the result in the field (instead of the normal right-justification).
`+'
For the signed `%d' and `%i' conversions, print a plus sign if the value is positive.
` '
For the signed `%d' and `%i' conversions, if the result doesn't start with a plus or minus sign, prefix it with a space character instead. Since the `+' flag ensures that the result includes a sign, this flag is ignored if you supply both of them.
`#'
For the `%o' conversion, this forces the leading digit to be `0', as if by increasing the precision. For `%x' or `%X', this prefixes a leading `0x' or `0X' (respectively) to the result. This doesn't do anything useful for the `%d', `%i', or `%u' conversions. Using this flag produces output which can be parsed by the strtoul function (see section Parsing of Integers) and scanf with the `%i' conversion (see section Numeric Input Conversions).
`''
Separate the digits into groups as specified by the locale specified for the LC_NUMERIC category; see section Generic Numeric Formatting Parameters. This flag is a GNU extension.
`0'
Pad the field with zeros instead of spaces. The zeros are placed after any indication of sign or base. This flag is ignored if the `-' flag is also specified, or if a precision is specified.

If a precision is supplied, it specifies the minimum number of digits to appear; leading zeros are produced if necessary. If you don't specify a precision, the number is printed with as many digits as it needs. If you convert a value of zero with an explicit precision of zero, then no characters at all are produced.

Without a type modifier, the corresponding argument is treated as an int (for the signed conversions `%i' and `%d') or unsigned int (for the unsigned conversions `%o', `%u', `%x', and `%X'). Recall that since printf and friends are variadic, any char and short arguments are automatically converted to int by the default argument promotions. For arguments of other integer types, you can use these modifiers:

`h'
Specifies that the argument is a short int or unsigned short int, as appropriate. A short argument is converted to an int or unsigned int by the default argument promotions anyway, but the `h' modifier says to convert it back to a short again.
`l'
Specifies that the argument is a long int or unsigned long int, as appropriate. Two `l' characters is like the `L' modifier, below.
`L'
`ll'
`q'
Specifies that the argument is a long long int. (This type is an extension supported by the GNU C compiler. On systems that don't support extra-long integers, this is the same as long int.) The `q' modifier is another name for the same thing, which comes from 4.4 BSD; a long long int is sometimes called a "quad" int.
`Z'
Specifies that the argument is a size_t. This is a GNU extension.

Here is an example. Using the template string:

"|%5d|%-5d|%+5d|%+-5d|% 5d|%05d|%5.0d|%5.2d|%d|\n"

to print numbers using the different options for the `%d' conversion gives results like:

|    0|0    |   +0|+0   |    0|00000|     |   00|0|
|    1|1    |   +1|+1   |    1|00001|    1|   01|1|
|   -1|-1   |   -1|-1   |   -1|-0001|   -1|  -01|-1|
|100000|100000|+100000| 100000|100000|100000|100000|100000|

In particular, notice what happens in the last case where the number is too large to fit in the minimum field width specified.

Here are some more examples showing how unsigned integers print under various format options, using the template string:

"|%5u|%5o|%5x|%5X|%#5o|%#5x|%#5X|%#10.8x|\n"
|    0|    0|    0|    0|    0|  0x0|  0X0|0x00000000|
|    1|    1|    1|    1|   01|  0x1|  0X1|0x00000001|
|100000|303240|186a0|186A0|0303240|0x186a0|0X186A0|0x000186a0|

Floating-Point Conversions

This section discusses the conversion specifications for floating-point numbers: the `%f', `%e', `%E', `%g', and `%G' conversions.

The `%f' conversion prints its argument in fixed-point notation, producing output of the form [-]ddd.ddd, where the number of digits following the decimal point is controlled by the precision you specify.

The `%e' conversion prints its argument in exponential notation, producing output of the form [-]d.ddde[+|-]dd. Again, the number of digits following the decimal point is controlled by the precision. The exponent always contains at least two digits. The `%E' conversion is similar but the exponent is marked with the letter `E' instead of `e'.

The `%g' and `%G' conversions print the argument in the style of `%e' or `%E' (respectively) if the exponent would be less than -4 or greater than or equal to the precision; otherwise they use the `%f' style. Trailing zeros are removed from the fractional portion of the result and a decimal-point character appears only if it is followed by a digit.

The following flags can be used to modify the behavior:

`-'
Left-justify the result in the field. Normally the result is right-justified.
`+'
Always include a plus or minus sign in the result.
` '
If the result doesn't start with a plus or minus sign, prefix it with a space instead. Since the `+' flag ensures that the result includes a sign, this flag is ignored if you supply both of them.
`#'
Specifies that the result should always include a decimal point, even if no digits follow it. For the `%g' and `%G' conversions, this also forces trailing zeros after the decimal point to be left in place where they would otherwise be removed.
`''
Separate the digits of the integer part of the result into groups as specified by the locale specified for the LC_NUMERIC category; see section Generic Numeric Formatting Parameters. This flag is a GNU extension.
`0'
Pad the field with zeros instead of spaces; the zeros are placed after any sign. This flag is ignored if the `-' flag is also specified.

The precision specifies how many digits follow the decimal-point character for the `%f', `%e', and `%E' conversions. For these conversions, the default precision is 6. If the precision is explicitly 0, this suppresses the decimal point character entirely. For the `%g' and `%G' conversions, the precision specifies how many significant digits to print. Significant digits are the first digit before the decimal point, and all the digits after it. If the precision 0 or not specified for `%g' or `%G', it is treated like a value of 1. If the value being printed cannot be expressed accurately in the specified number of digits, the value is rounded to the nearest number that fits.

Without a type modifier, the floating-point conversions use an argument of type double. (By the default argument promotions, any float arguments are automatically converted to double.) The following type modifier is supported:

`L'
An uppercase `L' specifies that the argument is a long double.

Here are some examples showing how numbers print using the various floating-point conversions. All of the numbers were printed using this template string:

"|%12.4f|%12.4e|%12.4g|\n"

Here is the output:

|      0.0000|  0.0000e+00|           0|
|      1.0000|  1.0000e+00|           1|
|     -1.0000| -1.0000e+00|          -1|
|    100.0000|  1.0000e+02|         100|
|   1000.0000|  1.0000e+03|        1000|
|  10000.0000|  1.0000e+04|       1e+04|
|  12345.0000|  1.2345e+04|   1.234e+04|
| 100000.0000|  1.0000e+05|       1e+05|
| 123456.0000|  1.2346e+05|   1.234e+05|

Notice how the `%g' conversion drops trailing zeros.

Other Output Conversions

This section describes miscellaneous conversions for printf.

The `%c' conversion prints a single character. The int argument is first converted to an unsigned char. The `-' flag can be used to specify left-justification in the field, but no other flags are defined, and no precision or type modifier can be given. For example:

printf ("%c%c%c%c%c", 'h', 'e', 'l', 'l', 'o');

prints `hello'.

The `%s' conversion prints a string. The corresponding argument must be of type char * (or const char *). A precision can be specified to indicate the maximum number of characters to write; otherwise characters in the string up to but not including the terminating null character are written to the output stream. The `-' flag can be used to specify left-justification in the field, but no other flags or type modifiers are defined for this conversion. For example:

printf ("%3s%-6s", "no", "where");

prints ` nowhere '.

If you accidentally pass a null pointer as the argument for a `%s' conversion, the GNU library prints it as `(null)'. We think this is more useful than crashing. But it's not good practice to pass a null argument intentionally.

The `%m' conversion prints the string corresponding to the error code in errno. See section Error Messages. Thus:

fprintf (stderr, "can't open `%s': %m\n", filename);

is equivalent to:

fprintf (stderr, "can't open `%s': %s\n", filename, strerror (errno));

The `%m' conversion is a GNU C library extension.

The `%p' conversion prints a pointer value. The corresponding argument must be of type void *. In practice, you can use any type of pointer.

In the GNU system, non-null pointers are printed as unsigned integers, as if a `%#x' conversion were used. Null pointers print as `(nil)'. (Pointers might print differently in other systems.)

For example:

printf ("%p", "testing");

prints `0x' followed by a hexadecimal number--the address of the string constant "testing". It does not print the word `testing'.

You can supply the `-' flag with the `%p' conversion to specify left-justification, but no other flags, precision, or type modifiers are defined.

The `%n' conversion is unlike any of the other output conversions. It uses an argument which must be a pointer to an int, but instead of printing anything it stores the number of characters printed so far by this call at that location. The `h' and `l' type modifiers are permitted to specify that the argument is of type short int * or long int * instead of int *, but no flags, field width, or precision are permitted.

For example,

int nchar;
printf ("%d %s%n\n", 3, "bears", &nchar);

prints:

3 bears

and sets nchar to 7, because `3 bears' is seven characters.

The `%%' conversion prints a literal `%' character. This conversion doesn't use an argument, and no flags, field width, precision, or type modifiers are permitted.

Formatted Output Functions

This section describes how to call printf and related functions. Prototypes for these functions are in the header file `stdio.h'. Because these functions take a variable number of arguments, you must declare prototypes for them before using them. Of course, the easiest way to make sure you have all the right prototypes is to just include `stdio.h'.

Function: int printf (const char *template, ...)
The printf function prints the optional arguments under the control of the template string template to the stream stdout. It returns the number of characters printed, or a negative value if there was an output error.

Function: int fprintf (FILE *stream, const char *template, ...)
This function is just like printf, except that the output is written to the stream stream instead of stdout.

Function: int sprintf (char *s, const char *template, ...)
This is like printf, except that the output is stored in the character array s instead of written to a stream. A null character is written to mark the end of the string.

The sprintf function returns the number of characters stored in the array s, not including the terminating null character.

The behavior of this function is undefined if copying takes place between objects that overlap--for example, if s is also given as an argument to be printed under control of the `%s' conversion. See section Copying and Concatenation.

Warning: The sprintf function can be dangerous because it can potentially output more characters than can fit in the allocation size of the string s. Remember that the field width given in a conversion specification is only a minimum value.

To avoid this problem, you can use snprintf or asprintf, described below.

Function: int snprintf (char *s, size_t size, const char *template, ...)
The snprintf function is similar to sprintf, except that the size argument specifies the maximum number of characters to produce. The trailing null character is counted towards this limit, so you should allocate at least size characters for the string s.

The return value is the number of characters stored, not including the terminating null. If this value equals size - 1, then there was not enough space in s for all the output. You should try again with a bigger output string. Here is an example of doing this:

/* Construct a message describing the value of a variable
   whose name is name and whose value is value. */
char *
make_message (char *name, char *value)
{
  /* Guess we need no more than 100 chars of space. */
  int size = 100;
  char *buffer = (char *) xmalloc (size);
  while (1)
    {
      /* Try to print in the allocated space. */
      int nchars = snprintf (buffer, size,
                             "value of %s is %s",
                             name, value);
      /* If that worked, return the string. */
      if (nchars < size)
        return buffer;
      /* Else try again with twice as much space. */
      size *= 2;
      buffer = (char *) xrealloc (size, buffer);
    }
}

In practice, it is often easier just to use asprintf, below.

Dynamically Allocating Formatted Output

The functions in this section do formatted output and place the results in dynamically allocated memory.

Function: int asprintf (char **ptr, const char *template, ...)
This function is similar to sprintf, except that it dynamically allocates a string (as with malloc; see section Unconstrained Allocation) to hold the output, instead of putting the output in a buffer you allocate in advance. The ptr argument should be the address of a char * object, and asprintf stores a pointer to the newly allocated string at that location.

Here is how to use asprintf to get the same result as the snprintf example, but more easily:

/* Construct a message describing the value of a variable
   whose name is name and whose value is value. */
char *
make_message (char *name, char *value)
{
  char *result;
  asprintf (&result, "value of %s is %s", name, value);
  return result;
}

Function: int obstack_printf (struct obstack *obstack, const char *template, ...)
This function is similar to asprintf, except that it uses the obstack obstack to allocate the space. See section Obstacks.

The characters are written onto the end of the current object. To get at them, you must finish the object with obstack_finish (see section Growing Objects).

Variable Arguments Output Functions

The functions vprintf and friends are provided so that you can define your own variadic printf-like functions that make use of the same internals as the built-in formatted output functions.

The most natural way to define such functions would be to use a language construct to say, "Call printf and pass this template plus all of my arguments after the first five." But there is no way to do this in C, and it would be hard to provide a way, since at the C language level there is no way to tell how many arguments your function received.

Since that method is impossible, we provide alternative functions, the vprintf series, which lets you pass a va_list to describe "all of my arguments after the first five."

When it is sufficient to define a macro rather than a real function, the GNU C compiler provides a way to do this much more easily with macros. For example:

#define myprintf(a, b, c, d, e, rest...) printf (mytemplate , ## rest...)

See section `Macros with Variable Numbers of Arguments' in Using GNU CC, for details. But this is limited to macros, and does not apply to real functions at all.

Before calling vprintf or the other functions listed in this section, you must call va_start (see section Variadic Functions) to initialize a pointer to the variable arguments. Then you can call va_arg to fetch the arguments that you want to handle yourself. This advances the pointer past those arguments.

Once your va_list pointer is pointing at the argument of your choice, you are ready to call vprintf. That argument and all subsequent arguments that were passed to your function are used by vprintf along with the template that you specified separately.

In some other systems, the va_list pointer may become invalid after the call to vprintf, so you must not use va_arg after you call vprintf. Instead, you should call va_end to retire the pointer from service. However, you can safely call va_start on another pointer variable and begin fetching the arguments again through that pointer. Calling vprintf does not destroy the argument list of your function, merely the particular pointer that you passed to it.

GNU C does not have such restrictions. You can safely continue to fetch arguments from a va_list pointer after passing it to vprintf, and va_end is a no-op. (Note, however, that subsequent va_arg calls will fetch the same arguments which vprintf previously used.)

Prototypes for these functions are declared in `stdio.h'.

Function: int vprintf (const char *template, va_list ap)
This function is similar to printf except that, instead of taking a variable number of arguments directly, it takes an argument list pointer ap.

Function: int vfprintf (FILE *stream, const char *template, va_list ap)
This is the equivalent of fprintf with the variable argument list specified directly as for vprintf.

Function: int vsprintf (char *s, const char *template, va_list ap)
This is the equivalent of sprintf with the variable argument list specified directly as for vprintf.

Function: int vsnprintf (char *s, size_t size, const char *template, va_list ap)
This is the equivalent of snprintf with the variable argument list specified directly as for vprintf.

Function: int vasprintf (char **ptr, const char *template, va_list ap)
The vasprintf function is the equivalent of asprintf with the variable argument list specified directly as for vprintf.

Function: int obstack_vprintf (struct obstack *obstack, const char *template, va_list ap)
The obstack_vprintf function is the equivalent of obstack_printf with the variable argument list specified directly as for vprintf.

Here's an example showing how you might use vfprintf. This is a function that prints error messages to the stream stderr, along with a prefix indicating the name of the program (see section Error Messages, for a description of program_invocation_short_name).

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdarg.h>

void
eprintf (const char *template, ...)
{
  va_list ap;
  extern char *program_invocation_short_name;

  fprintf (stderr, "%s: ", program_invocation_short_name);
  va_start (ap, count);
  vfprintf (stderr, template, ap);
  va_end (ap);
}

You could call eprintf like this:

eprintf ("file `%s' does not exist\n", filename);

In GNU C, there is a special construct you can use to let the compiler know that a function uses a printf-style format string. Then it can check the number and types of arguments in each call to the function, and warn you when they do not match the format string. For example, take this declaration of eprintf:

void eprintf (const char *template, ...)
        __attribute__ ((format (printf, 1, 2)));

This tells the compiler that eprintf uses a format string like printf (as opposed to scanf; see section Formatted Input); the format string appears as the first argument; and the arguments to satisfy the format begin with the second. See section `Declaring Attributes of Functions' in Using GNU CC, for more information.

Parsing a Template String

You can use the function parse_printf_format to obtain information about the number and types of arguments that are expected by a given template string. This function permits interpreters that provide interfaces to printf to avoid passing along invalid arguments from the user's program, which could cause a crash.

All the symbols described in this section are declared in the header file `printf.h'.

Function: size_t parse_printf_format (const char *template, size_t n, int *argtypes)
This function returns information about the number and types of arguments expected by the printf template string template. The information is stored in the array argtypes; each element of this array describes one argument. This information is encoded using the various `PA_' macros, listed below.

The n argument specifies the number of elements in the array argtypes. This is the most elements that parse_printf_format will try to write.

parse_printf_format returns the total number of arguments required by template. If this number is greater than n, then the information returned describes only the first n arguments. If you want information about more than that many arguments, allocate a bigger array and call parse_printf_format again.

The argument types are encoded as a combination of a basic type and modifier flag bits.

Macro: int PA_FLAG_MASK
This macro is a bitmask for the type modifier flag bits. You can write the expression (argtypes[i] & PA_FLAG_MASK) to extract just the flag bits for an argument, or (argtypes[i] & ~PA_FLAG_MASK) to extract just the basic type code.

Here are symbolic constants that represent the basic types; they stand for integer values.

PA_INT
This specifies that the base type is int.
PA_CHAR
This specifies that the base type is int, cast to char.
PA_STRING
This specifies that the base type is char *, a null-terminated string.
PA_POINTER
This specifies that the base type is void *, an arbitrary pointer.
PA_FLOAT
This specifies that the base type is float.
PA_DOUBLE
This specifies that the base type is double.
PA_LAST
You can define additional base types for your own programs as offsets from PA_LAST. For example, if you have data types `foo' and `bar' with their own specialized printf conversions, you could define encodings for these types as:
#define PA_FOO  PA_LAST
#define PA_BAR  (PA_LAST + 1)

Here are the flag bits that modify a basic type. They are combined with the code for the basic type using inclusive-or.

PA_FLAG_PTR
If this bit is set, it indicates that the encoded type is a pointer to the base type, rather than an immediate value. For example, `PA_INT|PA_FLAG_PTR' represents the type `int *'.
PA_FLAG_SHORT
If this bit is set, it indicates that the base type is modified with short. (This corresponds to the `h' type modifier.)
PA_FLAG_LONG
If this bit is set, it indicates that the base type is modified with long. (This corresponds to the `l' type modifier.)
PA_FLAG_LONG_LONG
If this bit is set, it indicates that the base type is modified with long long. (This corresponds to the `L' type modifier.)
PA_FLAG_LONG_DOUBLE
This is a synonym for PA_FLAG_LONG_LONG, used by convention with a base type of PA_DOUBLE to indicate a type of long double.

Example of Parsing a Template String

Here is an example of decoding argument types for a format string. We assume this is part of an interpreter which contains arguments of type NUMBER, CHAR, STRING and STRUCTURE (and perhaps others which are not valid here).

/* Test whether the nargs specified objects
   in the vector args are valid
   for the format string format:
   if so, return 1.
   If not, return 0 after printing an error message.  */

int
validate_args (char *format, int nargs, OBJECT *args)
{
  int *argtypes;
  int nwanted;

  /* Get the information about the arguments.
     Each conversion specification must be at least two characters
     long, so there cannot be more specifications than half the
     length of the string.  */

  argtypes = (int *) alloca (strlen (format) / 2 * sizeof (int));
  nwanted = parse_printf_format (string, nelts, argtypes);

  /* Check the number of arguments.  */
  if (nwanted > nargs)
    {
      error ("too few arguments (at least %d required)", nwanted);
      return 0;
    }

  /* Check the C type wanted for each argument
     and see if the object given is suitable.  */
  for (i = 0; i < nwanted; i++)
    {
      int wanted;

      if (argtypes[i] & PA_FLAG_PTR)
        wanted = STRUCTURE;
      else
        switch (argtypes[i] & ~PA_FLAG_MASK)
          {
          case PA_INT:
          case PA_FLOAT:
          case PA_DOUBLE:
            wanted = NUMBER;
            break;
          case PA_CHAR:
            wanted = CHAR;
            break;
          case PA_STRING:
            wanted = STRING;
            break;
          case PA_POINTER:
            wanted = STRUCTURE;
            break;
          }
      if (TYPE (args[i]) != wanted)
        {
          error ("type mismatch for arg number %d", i);
          return 0;
        }
    }
  return 1;
}

Customizing printf

The GNU C library lets you define your own custom conversion specifiers for printf template strings, to teach printf clever ways to print the important data structures of your program.

The way you do this is by registering the conversion with the function register_printf_function; see section Registering New Conversions. One of the arguments you pass to this function is a pointer to a handler function that produces the actual output; see section Defining the Output Handler, for information on how to write this function.

You can also install a function that just returns information about the number and type of arguments expected by the conversion specifier. See section Parsing a Template String, for information about this.

The facilities of this section are declared in the header file `printf.h'.

Portability Note: The ability to extend the syntax of printf template strings is a GNU extension. ISO standard C has nothing similar.

Registering New Conversions

The function to register a new output conversion is register_printf_function, declared in `printf.h'.

Function: int register_printf_function (int spec, printf_function handler-function, printf_arginfo_function arginfo-function)
This function defines the conversion specifier character spec. Thus, if spec is 'z', it defines the conversion `%z'. You can redefine the built-in conversions like `%s', but flag characters like `#' and type modifiers like `l' can never be used as conversions; calling register_printf_function for those characters has no effect.

The handler-function is the function called by printf and friends when this conversion appears in a template string. See section Defining the Output Handler, for information about how to define a function to pass as this argument. If you specify a null pointer, any existing handler function for spec is removed.

The arginfo-function is the function called by parse_printf_format when this conversion appears in a template string. See section Parsing a Template String, for information about this.

Attention: In the GNU C library version before 2.0 the arginfo-function function did not need to be installed unless the user uses the parse_printf_format function. This changed. Now a call to any of the printf functions will call this function when this format specifier appears in the format string.

The return value is 0 on success, and -1 on failure (which occurs if spec is out of range).

You can redefine the standard output conversions, but this is probably not a good idea because of the potential for confusion. Library routines written by other people could break if you do this.

Conversion Specifier Options

If you define a meaning for `%A', what if the template contains `%+23A' or `%-#A'? To implement a sensible meaning for these, the handler when called needs to be able to get the options specified in the template.

Both the handler-function and arginfo-function arguments to register_printf_function accept an argument that points to a struct printf_info, which contains information about the options appearing in an instance of the conversion specifier. This data type is declared in the header file `printf.h'.

Type: struct printf_info
This structure is used to pass information about the options appearing in an instance of a conversion specifier in a printf template string to the handler and arginfo functions for that specifier. It contains the following members:

int prec
This is the precision specified. The value is -1 if no precision was specified. If the precision was given as `*', the printf_info structure passed to the handler function contains the actual value retrieved from the argument list. But the structure passed to the arginfo function contains a value of INT_MIN, since the actual value is not known.
int width
This is the minimum field width specified. The value is 0 if no width was specified. If the field width was given as `*', the printf_info structure passed to the handler function contains the actual value retrieved from the argument list. But the structure passed to the arginfo function contains a value of INT_MIN, since the actual value is not known.
wchar_t spec
This is the conversion specifier character specified. It's stored in the structure so that you can register the same handler function for multiple characters, but still have a way to tell them apart when the handler function is called.
unsigned int is_long_double
This is a boolean that is true if the `L', `ll', or `q' type modifier was specified. For integer conversions, this indicates long long int, as opposed to long double for floating point conversions.
unsigned int is_short
This is a boolean that is true if the `h' type modifier was specified.
unsigned int is_long
This is a boolean that is true if the `l' type modifier was specified.
unsigned int alt
This is a boolean that is true if the `#' flag was specified.
unsigned int space
This is a boolean that is true if the ` ' flag was specified.
unsigned int left
This is a boolean that is true if the `-' flag was specified.
unsigned int showsign
This is a boolean that is true if the `+' flag was specified.
unsigned int group
This is a boolean that is true if the `'' flag was specified.
unsigned int extra
This flag has a special meaning depending on the context. It could be used freely by the user-defined handlers but when called from the printf function this variable always contains the value 0.
wchar_t pad
This is the character to use for padding the output to the minimum field width. The value is '0' if the `0' flag was specified, and ' ' otherwise.

Defining the Output Handler

Now let's look at how to define the handler and arginfo functions which are passed as arguments to register_printf_function.

Compatibility Note: The interface change in the GNU libc version 2.0. Previously the third argument was of type va_list *.

You should define your handler functions with a prototype like:

int function (FILE *stream, const struct printf_info *info,
                    const void *const *args)

The stream argument passed to the handler function is the stream to which it should write output.

The info argument is a pointer to a structure that contains information about the various options that were included with the conversion in the template string. You should not modify this structure inside your handler function. See section Conversion Specifier Options, for a description of this data structure.

The args is a vector of pointers to the arguments data. The number of arguments were determined by calling the argument information function provided by the user.

Your handler function should return a value just like printf does: it should return the number of characters it has written, or a negative value to indicate an error.

Data Type: printf_function
This is the data type that a handler function should have.

If you are going to use parse_printf_format in your application, you must also define a function to pass as the arginfo-function argument for each new conversion you install with register_printf_function.

You have to define these functions with a prototype like:

int function (const struct printf_info *info,
                    size_t n, int *argtypes)

The return value from the function should be the number of arguments the conversion expects. The function should also fill in no more than n elements of the argtypes array with information about the types of each of these arguments. This information is encoded using the various `PA_' macros. (You will notice that this is the same calling convention parse_printf_format itself uses.)

Data Type: printf_arginfo_function
This type is used to describe functions that return information about the number and type of arguments used by a conversion specifier.

printf Extension Example

Here is an example showing how to define a printf handler function. This program defines a data structure called a Widget and defines the `%W' conversion to print information about Widget * arguments, including the pointer value and the name stored in the data structure. The `%W' conversion supports the minimum field width and left-justification options, but ignores everything else.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <printf.h>
#include <stdarg.h>

typedef struct
  {
    char *name;
  } Widget;

int
print_widget (FILE *stream, const struct printf_info *info, va_list *app)
{
  Widget *w;
  char *buffer;
  int len;

  /* Format the output into a string. */
  w = va_arg (*app, Widget *);
  len = asprintf (&buffer, "<Widget %p: %s>", w, w->name);
  if (len == -1)
    return -1;

  /* Pad to the minimum field width and print to the stream. */
  len = fprintf (stream, "%*s",
                 (info->left ? - info->width : info->width),
                 buffer);

  /* Clean up and return. */
  free (buffer);
  return len;
}

int
print_widget_arginfo (const struct printf_info *info, size_t n,
                      int *argtypes)
{
  /* We always take exactly one argument and this is a pointer to the
     structure.. */
  if (n > 0)
    argtypes[0] = PA_POINTER;
  return 1;
}

int
main (void)
{
  /* Make a widget to print. */
  Widget mywidget;
  mywidget.name = "mywidget";

  /* Register the print function for widgets. */
  register_printf_function ('W', print_widget, print_widget_arginfo);

  /* Now print the widget. */
  printf ("|%W|\n", &mywidget);
  printf ("|%35W|\n", &mywidget);
  printf ("|%-35W|\n", &mywidget);

  return 0;
}

The output produced by this program looks like:

|<Widget 0xffeffb7c: mywidget>|
|      <Widget 0xffeffb7c: mywidget>|
|<Widget 0xffeffb7c: mywidget>      |

Formatted Input

The functions described in this section (scanf and related functions) provide facilities for formatted input analogous to the formatted output facilities. These functions provide a mechanism for reading arbitrary values under the control of a format string or template string.

Formatted Input Basics

Calls to scanf are superficially similar to calls to printf in that arbitrary arguments are read under the control of a template string. While the syntax of the conversion specifications in the template is very similar to that for printf, the interpretation of the template is oriented more towards free-format input and simple pattern matching, rather than fixed-field formatting. For example, most scanf conversions skip over any amount of "white space" (including spaces, tabs, and newlines) in the input file, and there is no concept of precision for the numeric input conversions as there is for the corresponding output conversions. Ordinarily, non-whitespace characters in the template are expected to match characters in the input stream exactly, but a matching failure is distinct from an input error on the stream.

Another area of difference between scanf and printf is that you must remember to supply pointers rather than immediate values as the optional arguments to scanf; the values that are read are stored in the objects that the pointers point to. Even experienced programmers tend to forget this occasionally, so if your program is getting strange errors that seem to be related to scanf, you might want to double-check this.

When a matching failure occurs, scanf returns immediately, leaving the first non-matching character as the next character to be read from the stream. The normal return value from scanf is the number of values that were assigned, so you can use this to determine if a matching error happened before all the expected values were read.

The scanf function is typically used for things like reading in the contents of tables. For example, here is a function that uses scanf to initialize an array of double:

void
readarray (double *array, int n)
{
  int i;
  for (i=0; i<n; i++)
    if (scanf (" %lf", &(array[i])) != 1)
      invalid_input_error ();
}

The formatted input functions are not used as frequently as the formatted output functions. Partly, this is because it takes some care to use them properly. Another reason is that it is difficult to recover from a matching error.

If you are trying to read input that doesn't match a single, fixed pattern, you may be better off using a tool such as Flex to generate a lexical scanner, or Bison to generate a parser, rather than using scanf. For more information about these tools, see section `' in Flex: The Lexical Scanner Generator, and section `' in The Bison Reference Manual.

Input Conversion Syntax

A scanf template string is a string that contains ordinary multibyte characters interspersed with conversion specifications that start with `%'.

Any whitespace character (as defined by the isspace function; see section Classification of Characters) in the template causes any number of whitespace characters in the input stream to be read and discarded. The whitespace characters that are matched need not be exactly the same whitespace characters that appear in the template string. For example, write ` , ' in the template to recognize a comma with optional whitespace before and after.

Other characters in the template string that are not part of conversion specifications must match characters in the input stream exactly; if this is not the case, a matching failure occurs.

The conversion specifications in a scanf template string have the general form:

% flags width type conversion

In more detail, an input conversion specification consists of an initial `%' character followed in sequence by:

The exact options that are permitted and how they are interpreted vary between the different conversion specifiers. See the descriptions of the individual conversions for information about the particular options that they allow.

With the `-Wformat' option, the GNU C compiler checks calls to scanf and related functions. It examines the format string and verifies that the correct number and types of arguments are supplied. There is also a GNU C syntax to tell the compiler that a function you write uses a scanf-style format string. See section `Declaring Attributes of Functions' in Using GNU CC, for more information.

Table of Input Conversions

Here is a table that summarizes the various conversion specifications:

`%d'
Matches an optionally signed integer written in decimal. See section Numeric Input Conversions.
`%i'
Matches an optionally signed integer in any of the formats that the C language defines for specifying an integer constant. See section Numeric Input Conversions.
`%o'
Matches an unsigned integer written in octal radix. See section Numeric Input Conversions.
`%u'
Matches an unsigned integer written in decimal radix. See section Numeric Input Conversions.
`%x', `%X'
Matches an unsigned integer written in hexadecimal radix. See section Numeric Input Conversions.
`%e', `%f', `%g', `%E', `%G'
Matches an optionally signed floating-point number. See section Numeric Input Conversions.
`%s'
Matches a string containing only non-whitespace characters. See section String Input Conversions.
`%['
Matches a string of characters that belong to a specified set. See section String Input Conversions.
`%c'
Matches a string of one or more characters; the number of characters read is controlled by the maximum field width given for the conversion. See section String Input Conversions.
`%p'
Matches a pointer value in the same implementation-defined format used by the `%p' output conversion for printf. See section Other Input Conversions.
`%n'
This conversion doesn't read any characters; it records the number of characters read so far by this call. See section Other Input Conversions.
`%%'
This matches a literal `%' character in the input stream. No corresponding argument is used. See section Other Input Conversions.

If the syntax of a conversion specification is invalid, the behavior is undefined. If there aren't enough function arguments provided to supply addresses for all the conversion specifications in the template strings that perform assignments, or if the arguments are not of the correct types, the behavior is also undefined. On the other hand, extra arguments are simply ignored.

Numeric Input Conversions

This section describes the scanf conversions for reading numeric values.

The `%d' conversion matches an optionally signed integer in decimal radix. The syntax that is recognized is the same as that for the strtol function (see section Parsing of Integers) with the value 10 for the base argument.

The `%i' conversion matches an optionally signed integer in any of the formats that the C language defines for specifying an integer constant. The syntax that is recognized is the same as that for the strtol function (see section Parsing of Integers) with the value 0 for the base argument. (You can print integers in this syntax with printf by using the `#' flag character with the `%x', `%o', or `%d' conversion. See section Integer Conversions.)

For example, any of the strings `10', `0xa', or `012' could be read in as integers under the `%i' conversion. Each of these specifies a number with decimal value 10.

The `%o', `%u', and `%x' conversions match unsigned integers in octal, decimal, and hexadecimal radices, respectively. The syntax that is recognized is the same as that for the strtoul function (see section Parsing of Integers) with the appropriate value (8, 10, or 16) for the base argument.

The `%X' conversion is identical to the `%x' conversion. They both permit either uppercase or lowercase letters to be used as digits.

The default type of the corresponding argument for the %d and %i conversions is int *, and unsigned int * for the other integer conversions. You can use the following type modifiers to specify other sizes of integer:

`h'
Specifies that the argument is a short int * or unsigned short int *.
`l'
Specifies that the argument is a long int * or unsigned long int *. Two `l' characters is like the `L' modifier, below.
`ll'
`L'
`q'
Specifies that the argument is a long long int * or unsigned long long int *. (The long long type is an extension supported by the GNU C compiler. For systems that don't provide extra-long integers, this is the same as long int.) The `q' modifier is another name for the same thing, which comes from 4.4 BSD; a long long int is sometimes called a "quad" int.

All of the `%e', `%f', `%g', `%E', and `%G' input conversions are interchangeable. They all match an optionally signed floating point number, in the same syntax as for the strtod function (see section Parsing of Floats).

For the floating-point input conversions, the default argument type is float *. (This is different from the corresponding output conversions, where the default type is double; remember that float arguments to printf are converted to double by the default argument promotions, but float * arguments are not promoted to double *.) You can specify other sizes of float using these type modifiers:

`l'
Specifies that the argument is of type double *.
`L'
Specifies that the argument is of type long double *.

For all the above number parsing formats there is an additional optional flag `''. When this flag is given the scanf function expects the number represented in the input string to be formatted according to the grouping rules of the currently selected locale (see section Generic Numeric Formatting Parameters).

If the "C" or "POSIX" locale is selected there is no difference. But for a locale which specifies values for the appropriate fields in the locale the input must have the correct form in the input. Otherwise the longest prefix with a correct form is processed.

String Input Conversions

This section describes the scanf input conversions for reading string and character values: `%s', `%[', and `%c'.

You have two options for how to receive the input from these conversions:

The `%c' conversion is the simplest: it matches a fixed number of characters, always. The maximum field with says how many characters to read; if you don't specify the maximum, the default is 1. This conversion doesn't append a null character to the end of the text it reads. It also does not skip over initial whitespace characters. It reads precisely the next n characters, and fails if it cannot get that many. Since there is always a maximum field width with `%c' (whether specified, or 1 by default), you can always prevent overflow by making the buffer long enough.

The `%s' conversion matches a string of non-whitespace characters. It skips and discards initial whitespace, but stops when it encounters more whitespace after having read something. It stores a null character at the end of the text that it reads.

For example, reading the input:

 hello, world

with the conversion `%10c' produces " hello, wo", but reading the same input with the conversion `%10s' produces "hello,".

Warning: If you do not specify a field width for `%s', then the number of characters read is limited only by where the next whitespace character appears. This almost certainly means that invalid input can make your program crash--which is a bug.

To read in characters that belong to an arbitrary set of your choice, use the `%[' conversion. You specify the set between the `[' character and a following `]' character, using the same syntax used in regular expressions. As special cases:

The `%[' conversion does not skip over initial whitespace characters.

Here are some examples of `%[' conversions and what they mean:

`%25[1234567890]'
Matches a string of up to 25 digits.
`%25[][]'
Matches a string of up to 25 square brackets.
`%25[^ \f\n\r\t\v]'
Matches a string up to 25 characters long that doesn't contain any of the standard whitespace characters. This is slightly different from `%s', because if the input begins with a whitespace character, `%[' reports a matching failure while `%s' simply discards the initial whitespace.
`%25[a-z]'
Matches up to 25 lowercase characters.

One more reminder: the `%s' and `%[' conversions are dangerous if you don't specify a maximum width or use the `a' flag, because input too long would overflow whatever buffer you have provided for it. No matter how long your buffer is, a user could supply input that is longer. A well-written program reports invalid input with a comprehensible error message, not with a crash.

Dynamically Allocating String Conversions

A GNU extension to formatted input lets you safely read a string with no maximum size. Using this feature, you don't supply a buffer; instead, scanf allocates a buffer big enough to hold the data and gives you its address. To use this feature, write `a' as a flag character, as in `%as' or `%a[0-9a-z]'.

The pointer argument you supply for where to store the input should have type char **. The scanf function allocates a buffer and stores its address in the word that the argument points to. You should free the buffer with free when you no longer need it.

Here is an example of using the `a' flag with the `%[...]' conversion specification to read a "variable assignment" of the form `variable = value'.

{
  char *variable, *value;

  if (2 > scanf ("%a[a-zA-Z0-9] = %a[^\n]\n",
                 &variable, &value))
    {
      invalid_input_error ();
      return 0;
    }

  ...
}

Other Input Conversions

This section describes the miscellaneous input conversions.

The `%p' conversion is used to read a pointer value. It recognizes the same syntax as is used by the `%p' output conversion for printf (see section Other Output Conversions); that is, a hexadecimal number just as the `%x' conversion accepts. The corresponding argument should be of type void **; that is, the address of a place to store a pointer.

The resulting pointer value is not guaranteed to be valid if it was not originally written during the same program execution that reads it in.

The `%n' conversion produces the number of characters read so far by this call. The corresponding argument should be of type int *. This conversion works in the same way as the `%n' conversion for printf; see section Other Output Conversions, for an example.

The `%n' conversion is the only mechanism for determining the success of literal matches or conversions with suppressed assignments. If the `%n' follows the locus of a matching failure, then no value is stored for it since scanf returns before processing the `%n'. If you store -1 in that argument slot before calling scanf, the presence of -1 after scanf indicates an error occurred before the `%n' was reached.

Finally, the `%%' conversion matches a literal `%' character in the input stream, without using an argument. This conversion does not permit any flags, field width, or type modifier to be specified.

Formatted Input Functions

Here are the descriptions of the functions for performing formatted input. Prototypes for these functions are in the header file `stdio.h'.

Function: int scanf (const char *template, ...)
The scanf function reads formatted input from the stream stdin under the control of the template string template. The optional arguments are pointers to the places which receive the resulting values.

The return value is normally the number of successful assignments. If an end-of-file condition is detected before any matches are performed (including matches against whitespace and literal characters in the template), then EOF is returned.

Function: int fscanf (FILE *stream, const char *template, ...)
This function is just like scanf, except that the input is read from the stream stream instead of stdin.

Function: int sscanf (const char *s, const char *template, ...)
This is like scanf, except that the characters are taken from the null-terminated string s instead of from a stream. Reaching the end of the string is treated as an end-of-file condition.

The behavior of this function is undefined if copying takes place between objects that overlap--for example, if s is also given as an argument to receive a string read under control of the `%s' conversion.

Variable Arguments Input Functions

The functions vscanf and friends are provided so that you can define your own variadic scanf-like functions that make use of the same internals as the built-in formatted output functions. These functions are analogous to the vprintf series of output functions. See section Variable Arguments Output Functions, for important information on how to use them.

Portability Note: The functions listed in this section are GNU extensions.

Function: int vscanf (const char *template, va_list ap)
This function is similar to scanf except that, instead of taking a variable number of arguments directly, it takes an argument list pointer ap of type va_list (see section Variadic Functions).

Function: int vfscanf (FILE *stream, const char *template, va_list ap)
This is the equivalent of fscanf with the variable argument list specified directly as for vscanf.

Function: int vsscanf (const char *s, const char *template, va_list ap)
This is the equivalent of sscanf with the variable argument list specified directly as for vscanf.

In GNU C, there is a special construct you can use to let the compiler know that a function uses a scanf-style format string. Then it can check the number and types of arguments in each call to the function, and warn you when they do not match the format string. See section `Declaring Attributes of Functions' in Using GNU CC, for details.

End-Of-File and Errors

Many of the functions described in this chapter return the value of the macro EOF to indicate unsuccessful completion of the operation. Since EOF is used to report both end of file and random errors, it's often better to use the feof function to check explicitly for end of file and ferror to check for errors. These functions check indicators that are part of the internal state of the stream object, indicators set if the appropriate condition was detected by a previous I/O operation on that stream.

These symbols are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Macro: int EOF
This macro is an integer value that is returned by a number of functions to indicate an end-of-file condition, or some other error situation. With the GNU library, EOF is -1. In other libraries, its value may be some other negative number.

Function: void clearerr (FILE *stream)
This function clears the end-of-file and error indicators for the stream stream.

The file positioning functions (see section File Positioning) also clear the end-of-file indicator for the stream.

Function: int feof (FILE *stream)
The feof function returns nonzero if and only if the end-of-file indicator for the stream stream is set.

Function: int ferror (FILE *stream)
The ferror function returns nonzero if and only if the error indicator for the stream stream is set, indicating that an error has occurred on a previous operation on the stream.

In addition to setting the error indicator associated with the stream, the functions that operate on streams also set errno in the same way as the corresponding low-level functions that operate on file descriptors. For example, all of the functions that perform output to a stream--such as fputc, printf, and fflush---are implemented in terms of write, and all of the errno error conditions defined for write are meaningful for these functions. For more information about the descriptor-level I/O functions, see section Low-Level Input/Output.

Text and Binary Streams

The GNU system and other POSIX-compatible operating systems organize all files as uniform sequences of characters. However, some other systems make a distinction between files containing text and files containing binary data, and the input and output facilities of ISO C provide for this distinction. This section tells you how to write programs portable to such systems.

When you open a stream, you can specify either a text stream or a binary stream. You indicate that you want a binary stream by specifying the `b' modifier in the opentype argument to fopen; see section Opening Streams. Without this option, fopen opens the file as a text stream.

Text and binary streams differ in several ways:

Since a binary stream is always more capable and more predictable than a text stream, you might wonder what purpose text streams serve. Why not simply always use binary streams? The answer is that on these operating systems, text and binary streams use different file formats, and the only way to read or write "an ordinary file of text" that can work with other text-oriented programs is through a text stream.

In the GNU library, and on all POSIX systems, there is no difference between text streams and binary streams. When you open a stream, you get the same kind of stream regardless of whether you ask for binary. This stream can handle any file content, and has none of the restrictions that text streams sometimes have.

File Positioning

The file position of a stream describes where in the file the stream is currently reading or writing. I/O on the stream advances the file position through the file. In the GNU system, the file position is represented as an integer, which counts the number of bytes from the beginning of the file. See section File Position.

During I/O to an ordinary disk file, you can change the file position whenever you wish, so as to read or write any portion of the file. Some other kinds of files may also permit this. Files which support changing the file position are sometimes referred to as random-access files.

You can use the functions in this section to examine or modify the file position indicator associated with a stream. The symbols listed below are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Function: long int ftell (FILE *stream)
This function returns the current file position of the stream stream.

This function can fail if the stream doesn't support file positioning, or if the file position can't be represented in a long int, and possibly for other reasons as well. If a failure occurs, a value of -1 is returned.

Function: int fseek (FILE *stream, long int offset, int whence)
The fseek function is used to change the file position of the stream stream. The value of whence must be one of the constants SEEK_SET, SEEK_CUR, or SEEK_END, to indicate whether the offset is relative to the beginning of the file, the current file position, or the end of the file, respectively.

This function returns a value of zero if the operation was successful, and a nonzero value to indicate failure. A successful call also clears the end-of-file indicator of stream and discards any characters that were "pushed back" by the use of ungetc.

fseek either flushes any buffered output before setting the file position or else remembers it so it will be written later in its proper place in the file.

Portability Note: In non-POSIX systems, ftell and fseek might work reliably only on binary streams. See section Text and Binary Streams.

The following symbolic constants are defined for use as the whence argument to fseek. They are also used with the lseek function (see section Input and Output Primitives) and to specify offsets for file locks (see section Control Operations on Files).

Macro: int SEEK_SET
This is an integer constant which, when used as the whence argument to the fseek function, specifies that the offset provided is relative to the beginning of the file.

Macro: int SEEK_CUR
This is an integer constant which, when used as the whence argument to the fseek function, specifies that the offset provided is relative to the current file position.

Macro: int SEEK_END
This is an integer constant which, when used as the whence argument to the fseek function, specifies that the offset provided is relative to the end of the file.

Function: void rewind (FILE *stream)
The rewind function positions the stream stream at the begining of the file. It is equivalent to calling fseek on the stream with an offset argument of 0L and a whence argument of SEEK_SET, except that the return value is discarded and the error indicator for the stream is reset.

These three aliases for the `SEEK_...' constants exist for the sake of compatibility with older BSD systems. They are defined in two different header files: `fcntl.h' and `sys/file.h'.

L_SET
An alias for SEEK_SET.
L_INCR
An alias for SEEK_CUR.
L_XTND
An alias for SEEK_END.

Portable File-Position Functions

On the GNU system, the file position is truly a character count. You can specify any character count value as an argument to fseek and get reliable results for any random access file. However, some ISO C systems do not represent file positions in this way.

On some systems where text streams truly differ from binary streams, it is impossible to represent the file position of a text stream as a count of characters from the beginning of the file. For example, the file position on some systems must encode both a record offset within the file, and a character offset within the record.

As a consequence, if you want your programs to be portable to these systems, you must observe certain rules:

But even if you observe these rules, you may still have trouble for long files, because ftell and fseek use a long int value to represent the file position. This type may not have room to encode all the file positions in a large file.

So if you do want to support systems with peculiar encodings for the file positions, it is better to use the functions fgetpos and fsetpos instead. These functions represent the file position using the data type fpos_t, whose internal representation varies from system to system.

These symbols are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Data Type: fpos_t
This is the type of an object that can encode information about the file position of a stream, for use by the functions fgetpos and fsetpos.

In the GNU system, fpos_t is equivalent to off_t or long int. In other systems, it might have a different internal representation.

Function: int fgetpos (FILE *stream, fpos_t *position)
This function stores the value of the file position indicator for the stream stream in the fpos_t object pointed to by position. If successful, fgetpos returns zero; otherwise it returns a nonzero value and stores an implementation-defined positive value in errno.

Function: int fsetpos (FILE *stream, const fpos_t position)
This function sets the file position indicator for the stream stream to the position position, which must have been set by a previous call to fgetpos on the same stream. If successful, fsetpos clears the end-of-file indicator on the stream, discards any characters that were "pushed back" by the use of ungetc, and returns a value of zero. Otherwise, fsetpos returns a nonzero value and stores an implementation-defined positive value in errno.

Stream Buffering

Characters that are written to a stream are normally accumulated and transmitted asynchronously to the file in a block, instead of appearing as soon as they are output by the application program. Similarly, streams often retrieve input from the host environment in blocks rather than on a character-by-character basis. This is called buffering.

If you are writing programs that do interactive input and output using streams, you need to understand how buffering works when you design the user interface to your program. Otherwise, you might find that output (such as progress or prompt messages) doesn't appear when you intended it to, or other unexpected behavior.

This section deals only with controlling when characters are transmitted between the stream and the file or device, and not with how things like echoing, flow control, and the like are handled on specific classes of devices. For information on common control operations on terminal devices, see section Low-Level Terminal Interface.

You can bypass the stream buffering facilities altogether by using the low-level input and output functions that operate on file descriptors instead. See section Low-Level Input/Output.

Buffering Concepts

There are three different kinds of buffering strategies:

Newly opened streams are normally fully buffered, with one exception: a stream connected to an interactive device such as a terminal is initially line buffered. See section Controlling Which Kind of Buffering, for information on how to select a different kind of buffering. Usually the automatic selection gives you the most convenient kind of buffering for the file or device you open.

The use of line buffering for interactive devices implies that output messages ending in a newline will appear immediately--which is usually what you want. Output that doesn't end in a newline might or might not show up immediately, so if you want them to appear immediately, you should flush buffered output explicitly with fflush, as described in section Flushing Buffers.

Flushing Buffers

Flushing output on a buffered stream means transmitting all accumulated characters to the file. There are many circumstances when buffered output on a stream is flushed automatically:

If you want to flush the buffered output at another time, call fflush, which is declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Function: int fflush (FILE *stream)
This function causes any buffered output on stream to be delivered to the file. If stream is a null pointer, then fflush causes buffered output on all open output streams to be flushed.

This function returns EOF if a write error occurs, or zero otherwise.

Compatibility Note: Some brain-damaged operating systems have been known to be so thoroughly fixated on line-oriented input and output that flushing a line buffered stream causes a newline to be written! Fortunately, this "feature" seems to be becoming less common. You do not need to worry about this in the GNU system.

Controlling Which Kind of Buffering

After opening a stream (but before any other operations have been performed on it), you can explicitly specify what kind of buffering you want it to have using the setvbuf function.

The facilities listed in this section are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Function: int setvbuf (FILE *stream, char *buf, int mode, size_t size)
This function is used to specify that the stream stream should have the buffering mode mode, which can be either _IOFBF (for full buffering), _IOLBF (for line buffering), or _IONBF (for unbuffered input/output).

If you specify a null pointer as the buf argument, then setvbuf allocates a buffer itself using malloc. This buffer will be freed when you close the stream.

Otherwise, buf should be a character array that can hold at least size characters. You should not free the space for this array as long as the stream remains open and this array remains its buffer. You should usually either allocate it statically, or malloc (see section Unconstrained Allocation) the buffer. Using an automatic array is not a good idea unless you close the file before exiting the block that declares the array.

While the array remains a stream buffer, the stream I/O functions will use the buffer for their internal purposes. You shouldn't try to access the values in the array directly while the stream is using it for buffering.

The setvbuf function returns zero on success, or a nonzero value if the value of mode is not valid or if the request could not be honored.

Macro: int _IOFBF
The value of this macro is an integer constant expression that can be used as the mode argument to the setvbuf function to specify that the stream should be fully buffered.

Macro: int _IOLBF
The value of this macro is an integer constant expression that can be used as the mode argument to the setvbuf function to specify that the stream should be line buffered.

Macro: int _IONBF
The value of this macro is an integer constant expression that can be used as the mode argument to the setvbuf function to specify that the stream should be unbuffered.

Macro: int BUFSIZ
The value of this macro is an integer constant expression that is good to use for the size argument to setvbuf. This value is guaranteed to be at least 256.

The value of BUFSIZ is chosen on each system so as to make stream I/O efficient. So it is a good idea to use BUFSIZ as the size for the buffer when you call setvbuf.

Actually, you can get an even better value to use for the buffer size by means of the fstat system call: it is found in the st_blksize field of the file attributes. See section What the File Attribute Values Mean.

Sometimes people also use BUFSIZ as the allocation size of buffers used for related purposes, such as strings used to receive a line of input with fgets (see section Character Input). There is no particular reason to use BUFSIZ for this instead of any other integer, except that it might lead to doing I/O in chunks of an efficient size.

Function: void setbuf (FILE *stream, char *buf)
If buf is a null pointer, the effect of this function is equivalent to calling setvbuf with a mode argument of _IONBF. Otherwise, it is equivalent to calling setvbuf with buf, and a mode of _IOFBF and a size argument of BUFSIZ.

The setbuf function is provided for compatibility with old code; use setvbuf in all new programs.

Function: void setbuffer (FILE *stream, char *buf, size_t size)
If buf is a null pointer, this function makes stream unbuffered. Otherwise, it makes stream fully buffered using buf as the buffer. The size argument specifies the length of buf.

This function is provided for compatibility with old BSD code. Use setvbuf instead.

Function: void setlinebuf (FILE *stream)
This function makes stream be line buffered, and allocates the buffer for you.

This function is provided for compatibility with old BSD code. Use setvbuf instead.

Other Kinds of Streams

The GNU library provides ways for you to define additional kinds of streams that do not necessarily correspond to an open file.

One such type of stream takes input from or writes output to a string. These kinds of streams are used internally to implement the sprintf and sscanf functions. You can also create such a stream explicitly, using the functions described in section String Streams.

More generally, you can define streams that do input/output to arbitrary objects using functions supplied by your program. This protocol is discussed in section Programming Your Own Custom Streams.

Portability Note: The facilities described in this section are specific to GNU. Other systems or C implementations might or might not provide equivalent functionality.

String Streams

The fmemopen and open_memstream functions allow you to do I/O to a string or memory buffer. These facilities are declared in `stdio.h'.

Function: FILE * fmemopen (void *buf, size_t size, const char *opentype)
This function opens a stream that allows the access specified by the opentype argument, that reads from or writes to the buffer specified by the argument buf. This array must be at least size bytes long.

If you specify a null pointer as the buf argument, fmemopen dynamically allocates (as with malloc; see section Unconstrained Allocation) an array size bytes long. This is really only useful if you are going to write things to the buffer and then read them back in again, because you have no way of actually getting a pointer to the buffer (for this, try open_memstream, below). The buffer is freed when the stream is open.

The argument opentype is the same as in fopen (See section Opening Streams). If the opentype specifies append mode, then the initial file position is set to the first null character in the buffer. Otherwise the initial file position is at the beginning of the buffer.

When a stream open for writing is flushed or closed, a null character (zero byte) is written at the end of the buffer if it fits. You should add an extra byte to the size argument to account for this. Attempts to write more than size bytes to the buffer result in an error.

For a stream open for reading, null characters (zero bytes) in the buffer do not count as "end of file". Read operations indicate end of file only when the file position advances past size bytes. So, if you want to read characters from a null-terminated string, you should supply the length of the string as the size argument.

Here is an example of using fmemopen to create a stream for reading from a string:

#include <stdio.h>

static char buffer[] = "foobar";

int
main (void)
{
  int ch;
  FILE *stream;

  stream = fmemopen (buffer, strlen (buffer), "r");
  while ((ch = fgetc (stream)) != EOF)
    printf ("Got %c\n", ch);
  fclose (stream);

  return 0;
}

This program produces the following output:

Got f
Got o
Got o
Got b
Got a
Got r

Function: FILE * open_memstream (char **ptr, size_t *sizeloc)
This function opens a stream for writing to a buffer. The buffer is allocated dynamically (as with malloc; see section Unconstrained Allocation) and grown as necessary.

When the stream is closed with fclose or flushed with fflush, the locations ptr and sizeloc are updated to contain the pointer to the buffer and its size. The values thus stored remain valid only as long as no further output on the stream takes place. If you do more output, you must flush the stream again to store new values before you use them again.

A null character is written at the end of the buffer. This null character is not included in the size value stored at sizeloc.

You can move the stream's file position with fseek (see section File Positioning). Moving the file position past the end of the data already written fills the intervening space with zeroes.

Here is an example of using open_memstream:

#include <stdio.h>

int
main (void)
{
  char *bp;
  size_t size;
  FILE *stream;

  stream = open_memstream (&bp, &size);
  fprintf (stream, "hello");
  fflush (stream);
  printf ("buf = `%s', size = %d\n", bp, size);
  fprintf (stream, ", world");
  fclose (stream);
  printf ("buf = `%s', size = %d\n", bp, size);

  return 0;
}

This program produces the following output:

buf = `hello', size = 5
buf = `hello, world', size = 12

Obstack Streams

You can open an output stream that puts it data in an obstack. See section Obstacks.

Function: FILE * open_obstack_stream (struct obstack *obstack)
This function opens a stream for writing data into the obstack obstack. This starts an object in the obstack and makes it grow as data is written (see section Growing Objects).

Calling fflush on this stream updates the current size of the object to match the amount of data that has been written. After a call to fflush, you can examine the object temporarily.

You can move the file position of an obstack stream with fseek (see section File Positioning). Moving the file position past the end of the data written fills the intervening space with zeros.

To make the object permanent, update the obstack with fflush, and then use obstack_finish to finalize the object and get its address. The following write to the stream starts a new object in the obstack, and later writes add to that object until you do another fflush and obstack_finish.

But how do you find out how long the object is? You can get the length in bytes by calling obstack_object_size (see section Status of an Obstack), or you can null-terminate the object like this:

obstack_1grow (obstack, 0);

Whichever one you do, you must do it before calling obstack_finish. (You can do both if you wish.)

Here is a sample function that uses open_obstack_stream:

char *
make_message_string (const char *a, int b)
{
  FILE *stream = open_obstack_stream (&message_obstack);
  output_task (stream);
  fprintf (stream, ": ");
  fprintf (stream, a, b);
  fprintf (stream, "\n");
  fclose (stream);
  obstack_1grow (&message_obstack, 0);
  return obstack_finish (&message_obstack);
}

Programming Your Own Custom Streams

This section describes how you can make a stream that gets input from an arbitrary data source or writes output to an arbitrary data sink programmed by you. We call these custom streams.

Custom Streams and Cookies

Inside every custom stream is a special object called the cookie. This is an object supplied by you which records where to fetch or store the data read or written. It is up to you to define a data type to use for the cookie. The stream functions in the library never refer directly to its contents, and they don't even know what the type is; they record its address with type void *.

To implement a custom stream, you must specify how to fetch or store the data in the specified place. You do this by defining hook functions to read, write, change "file position", and close the stream. All four of these functions will be passed the stream's cookie so they can tell where to fetch or store the data. The library functions don't know what's inside the cookie, but your functions will know.

When you create a custom stream, you must specify the cookie pointer, and also the four hook functions stored in a structure of type cookie_io_functions_t.

These facilities are declared in `stdio.h'.

Data Type: cookie_io_functions_t
This is a structure type that holds the functions that define the communications protocol between the stream and its cookie. It has the following members:

cookie_read_function_t *read
This is the function that reads data from the cookie. If the value is a null pointer instead of a function, then read operations on ths stream always return EOF.
cookie_write_function_t *write
This is the function that writes data to the cookie. If the value is a null pointer instead of a function, then data written to the stream is discarded.
cookie_seek_function_t *seek
This is the function that performs the equivalent of file positioning on the cookie. If the value is a null pointer instead of a function, calls to fseek on this stream can only seek to locations within the buffer; any attempt to seek outside the buffer will return an ESPIPE error.
cookie_close_function_t *close
This function performs any appropriate cleanup on the cookie when closing the stream. If the value is a null pointer instead of a function, nothing special is done to close the cookie when the stream is closed.

Function: FILE * fopencookie (void *cookie, const char *opentype, cookie_io_functions_t io-functions)
This function actually creates the stream for communicating with the cookie using the functions in the io-functions argument. The opentype argument is interpreted as for fopen; see section Opening Streams. (But note that the "truncate on open" option is ignored.) The new stream is fully buffered.

The fopencookie function returns the newly created stream, or a null pointer in case of an error.

Custom Stream Hook Functions

Here are more details on how you should define the four hook functions that a custom stream needs.

You should define the function to read data from the cookie as:

ssize_t reader (void *cookie, void *buffer, size_t size)

This is very similar to the read function; see section Input and Output Primitives. Your function should transfer up to size bytes into the buffer, and return the number of bytes read, or zero to indicate end-of-file. You can return a value of -1 to indicate an error.

You should define the function to write data to the cookie as:

ssize_t writer (void *cookie, const void *buffer, size_t size)

This is very similar to the write function; see section Input and Output Primitives. Your function should transfer up to size bytes from the buffer, and return the number of bytes written. You can return a value of -1 to indicate an error.

You should define the function to perform seek operations on the cookie as:

int seeker (void *cookie, fpos_t *position, int whence)

For this function, the position and whence arguments are interpreted as for fgetpos; see section Portable File-Position Functions. In the GNU library, fpos_t is equivalent to off_t or long int, and simply represents the number of bytes from the beginning of the file.

After doing the seek operation, your function should store the resulting file position relative to the beginning of the file in position. Your function should return a value of 0 on success and -1 to indicate an error.

You should define the function to do cleanup operations on the cookie appropriate for closing the stream as:

int cleaner (void *cookie)

Your function should return -1 to indicate an error, and 0 otherwise.

Data Type: cookie_read_function
This is the data type that the read function for a custom stream should have. If you declare the function as shown above, this is the type it will have.

Data Type: cookie_write_function
The data type of the write function for a custom stream.

Data Type: cookie_seek_function
The data type of the seek function for a custom stream.

Data Type: cookie_close_function
The data type of the close function for a custom stream.

Low-Level Input/Output

This chapter describes functions for performing low-level input/output operations on file descriptors. These functions include the primitives for the higher-level I/O functions described in section Input/Output on Streams, as well as functions for performing low-level control operations for which there are no equivalents on streams.

Stream-level I/O is more flexible and usually more convenient; therefore, programmers generally use the descriptor-level functions only when necessary. These are some of the usual reasons:

Opening and Closing Files

This section describes the primitives for opening and closing files using file descriptors. The open and creat functions are declared in the header file `fcntl.h', while close is declared in `unistd.h'.

Function: int open (const char *filename, int flags[, mode_t mode])
The open function creates and returns a new file descriptor for the file named by filename. Initially, the file position indicator for the file is at the beginning of the file. The argument mode is used only when a file is created, but it doesn't hurt to supply the argument in any case.

The flags argument controls how the file is to be opened. This is a bit mask; you create the value by the bitwise OR of the appropriate parameters (using the `|' operator in C). See section File Status Flags, for the parameters available.

The normal return value from open is a non-negative integer file descriptor. In the case of an error, a value of -1 is returned instead. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EACCES
The file exists but is not readable/writable as requested by the flags argument, the file does not exist and the directory is unwritable so it cannot be created.
EEXIST
Both O_CREAT and O_EXCL are set, and the named file already exists.
EINTR
The open operation was interrupted by a signal. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.
EISDIR
The flags argument specified write access, and the file is a directory.
EMFILE
The process has too many files open. The maximum number of file descriptors is controlled by the RLIMIT_NOFILE resource limit; see section Limiting Resource Usage.
ENFILE
The entire system, or perhaps the file system which contains the directory, cannot support any additional open files at the moment. (This problem cannot happen on the GNU system.)
ENOENT
The named file does not exist, and O_CREAT is not specified.
ENOSPC
The directory or file system that would contain the new file cannot be extended, because there is no disk space left.
ENXIO
O_NONBLOCK and O_WRONLY are both set in the flags argument, the file named by filename is a FIFO (see section Pipes and FIFOs), and no process has the file open for reading.
EROFS
The file resides on a read-only file system and any of O_WRONLY, O_RDWR, and O_TRUNC are set in the flags argument, or O_CREAT is set and the file does not already exist.

The open function is the underlying primitive for the fopen and freopen functions, that create streams.

Obsolete function: int creat (const char *filename, mode_t mode)
This function is obsolete. The call:

creat (filename, mode)

is equivalent to:

open (filename, O_WRONLY | O_CREAT | O_TRUNC, mode)

Function: int close (int filedes)
The function close closes the file descriptor filedes. Closing a file has the following consequences:

The normal return value from close is 0; a value of -1 is returned in case of failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes argument is not a valid file descriptor.
EINTR
The close call was interrupted by a signal. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals. Here is an example of how to handle EINTR properly:
TEMP_FAILURE_RETRY (close (desc));
ENOSPC
EIO
EDQUOT
When the file is accessed by NFS, these errors from write can sometimes not be detected until close. See section Input and Output Primitives, for details on their meaning.

To close a stream, call fclose (see section Closing Streams) instead of trying to close its underlying file descriptor with close. This flushes any buffered output and updates the stream object to indicate that it is closed.

Input and Output Primitives

This section describes the functions for performing primitive input and output operations on file descriptors: read, write, and lseek. These functions are declared in the header file `unistd.h'.

Data Type: ssize_t
This data type is used to represent the sizes of blocks that can be read or written in a single operation. It is similar to size_t, but must be a signed type.

Function: ssize_t read (int filedes, void *buffer, size_t size)
The read function reads up to size bytes from the file with descriptor filedes, storing the results in the buffer. (This is not necessarily a character string and there is no terminating null character added.)

The return value is the number of bytes actually read. This might be less than size; for example, if there aren't that many bytes left in the file or if there aren't that many bytes immediately available. The exact behavior depends on what kind of file it is. Note that reading less than size bytes is not an error.

A value of zero indicates end-of-file (except if the value of the size argument is also zero). This is not considered an error. If you keep calling read while at end-of-file, it will keep returning zero and doing nothing else.

If read returns at least one character, there is no way you can tell whether end-of-file was reached. But if you did reach the end, the next read will return zero.

In case of an error, read returns -1. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EAGAIN
Normally, when no input is immediately available, read waits for some input. But if the O_NONBLOCK flag is set for the file (see section File Status Flags), read returns immediately without reading any data, and reports this error. Compatibility Note: Most versions of BSD Unix use a different error code for this: EWOULDBLOCK. In the GNU library, EWOULDBLOCK is an alias for EAGAIN, so it doesn't matter which name you use. On some systems, reading a large amount of data from a character special file can also fail with EAGAIN if the kernel cannot find enough physical memory to lock down the user's pages. This is limited to devices that transfer with direct memory access into the user's memory, which means it does not include terminals, since they always use separate buffers inside the kernel. This problem never happens in the GNU system. Any condition that could result in EAGAIN can instead result in a successful read which returns fewer bytes than requested. Calling read again immediately would result in EAGAIN.
EBADF
The filedes argument is not a valid file descriptor, or is not open for reading.
EINTR
read was interrupted by a signal while it was waiting for input. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals. A signal will not necessary cause read to return EINTR; it may instead result in a successful read which returns fewer bytes than requested.
EIO
For many devices, and for disk files, this error code indicates a hardware error. EIO also occurs when a background process tries to read from the controlling terminal, and the normal action of stopping the process by sending it a SIGTTIN signal isn't working. This might happen if signal is being blocked or ignored, or because the process group is orphaned. See section Job Control, for more information about job control, and section Signal Handling, for information about signals.

The read function is the underlying primitive for all of the functions that read from streams, such as fgetc.

Function: ssize_t write (int filedes, const void *buffer, size_t size)
The write function writes up to size bytes from buffer to the file with descriptor filedes. The data in buffer is not necessarily a character string and a null character is output like any other character.

The return value is the number of bytes actually written. This may be size, but can always be smaller. Your program should always call write in a loop, iterating until all the data is written.

Once write returns, the data is enqueued to be written and can be read back right away, but it is not necessarily written out to permanent storage immediately. You can use fsync when you need to be sure your data has been permanently stored before continuing. (It is more efficient for the system to batch up consecutive writes and do them all at once when convenient. Normally they will always be written to disk within a minute or less.) You can use the O_FSYNC open mode to make write always store the data to disk before returning; see section I/O Operating Modes.

In the case of an error, write returns -1. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EAGAIN
Normally, write blocks until the write operation is complete. But if the O_NONBLOCK flag is set for the file (see section Control Operations on Files), it returns immediately without writing any data, and reports this error. An example of a situation that might cause the process to block on output is writing to a terminal device that supports flow control, where output has been suspended by receipt of a STOP character. Compatibility Note: Most versions of BSD Unix use a different error code for this: EWOULDBLOCK. In the GNU library, EWOULDBLOCK is an alias for EAGAIN, so it doesn't matter which name you use. On some systems, writing a large amount of data from a character special file can also fail with EAGAIN if the kernel cannot find enough physical memory to lock down the user's pages. This is limited to devices that transfer with direct memory access into the user's memory, which means it does not include terminals, since they always use separate buffers inside the kernel. This problem does not arise in the GNU system.
EBADF
The filedes argument is not a valid file descriptor, or is not open for writing.
EFBIG
The size of the file would become larger than the implementation can support.
EINTR
The write operation was interrupted by a signal while it was blocked waiting for completion. A signal will not necessary cause write to return EINTR; it may instead result in a successful write which writes fewer bytes than requested. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.
EIO
For many devices, and for disk files, this error code indicates a hardware error.
ENOSPC
The device containing the file is full.
EPIPE
This error is returned when you try to write to a pipe or FIFO that isn't open for reading by any process. When this happens, a SIGPIPE signal is also sent to the process; see section Signal Handling.

Unless you have arranged to prevent EINTR failures, you should check errno after each failing call to write, and if the error was EINTR, you should simply repeat the call. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals. The easy way to do this is with the macro TEMP_FAILURE_RETRY, as follows:

nbytes = TEMP_FAILURE_RETRY (write (desc, buffer, count));

The write function is the underlying primitive for all of the functions that write to streams, such as fputc.

Setting the File Position of a Descriptor

Just as you can set the file position of a stream with fseek, you can set the file position of a descriptor with lseek. This specifies the position in the file for the next read or write operation. See section File Positioning, for more information on the file position and what it means.

To read the current file position value from a descriptor, use lseek (desc, 0, SEEK_CUR).

Function: off_t lseek (int filedes, off_t offset, int whence)
The lseek function is used to change the file position of the file with descriptor filedes.

The whence argument specifies how the offset should be interpreted in the same way as for the fseek function, and must be one of the symbolic constants SEEK_SET, SEEK_CUR, or SEEK_END.

SEEK_SET
Specifies that whence is a count of characters from the beginning of the file.
SEEK_CUR
Specifies that whence is a count of characters from the current file position. This count may be positive or negative.
SEEK_END
Specifies that whence is a count of characters from the end of the file. A negative count specifies a position within the current extent of the file; a positive count specifies a position past the current end. If you set the position past the current end, and actually write data, you will extend the file with zeros up to that position.@end table The return value from lseek is normally the resulting file position, measured in bytes from the beginning of the file. You can use this feature together with SEEK_CUR to read the current file position. If you want to append to the file, setting the file position to the current end of file with SEEK_END is not sufficient. Another process may write more data after you seek but before you write, extending the file so the position you write onto clobbers their data. Instead, use the O_APPEND operating mode; see section I/O Operating Modes. You can set the file position past the current end of the file. This does not by itself make the file longer; lseek never changes the file. But subsequent output at that position will extend the file. Characters between the previous end of file and the new position are filled with zeros. Extending the file in this way can create a "hole": the blocks of zeros are not actually allocated on disk, so the file takes up less space than it appears so; it is then called a "sparse file". If the file position cannot be changed, or the operation is in some way invalid, lseek returns a value of -1. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:
EBADF
The filedes is not a valid file descriptor.
EINVAL
The whence argument value is not valid, or the resulting file offset is not valid. A file offset is invalid.
ESPIPE
The filedes corresponds to an object that cannot be positioned, such as a pipe, FIFO or terminal device. (POSIX.1 specifies this error only for pipes and FIFOs, but in the GNU system, you always get ESPIPE if the object is not seekable.)
The lseek function is the underlying primitive for the fseek, ftell and rewind functions, which operate on streams instead of file descriptors.
You can have multiple descriptors for the same file if you open the file more than once, or if you duplicate a descriptor with dup. Descriptors that come from separate calls to open have independent file positions; using lseek on one descriptor has no effect on the other. For example,
{
  int d1, d2;
  char buf[4];
  d1 = open ("foo", O_RDONLY);
  d2 = open ("foo", O_RDONLY);
  lseek (d1, 1024, SEEK_SET);
  read (d2, buf, 4);
}
will read the first four characters of the file `foo'. (The error-checking code necessary for a real program has been omitted here for brevity.) By contrast, descriptors made by duplication share a common file position with the original descriptor that was duplicated. Anything which alters the file position of one of the duplicates, including reading or writing data, affects all of them alike. Thus, for example,
{
  int d1, d2, d3;
  char buf1[4], buf2[4];
  d1 = open ("foo", O_RDONLY);
  d2 = dup (d1);
  d3 = dup (d2);
  lseek (d3, 1024, SEEK_SET);
  read (d1, buf1, 4);
  read (d2, buf2, 4);
}
will read four characters starting with the 1024'th character of `foo', and then four more characters starting with the 1028'th character.
Data Type: off_t
This is an arithmetic data type used to represent file sizes. In the GNU system, this is equivalent to fpos_t or long int.
These aliases for the `SEEK_...' constants exist for the sake of compatibility with older BSD systems. They are defined in two different header files: `fcntl.h' and `sys/file.h'.
L_SET
An alias for SEEK_SET.
L_INCR
An alias for SEEK_CUR.
L_XTND
An alias for SEEK_END.

Descriptors and Streams

Given an open file descriptor, you can create a stream for it with the fdopen function. You can get the underlying file descriptor for an existing stream with the fileno function. These functions are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Function: FILE * fdopen (int filedes, const char *opentype)
The fdopen function returns a new stream for the file descriptor filedes.

The opentype argument is interpreted in the same way as for the fopen function (see section Opening Streams), except that the `b' option is not permitted; this is because GNU makes no distinction between text and binary files. Also, "w" and "w+" do not cause truncation of the file; these have affect only when opening a file, and in this case the file has already been opened. You must make sure that the opentype argument matches the actual mode of the open file descriptor.

The return value is the new stream. If the stream cannot be created (for example, if the modes for the file indicated by the file descriptor do not permit the access specified by the opentype argument), a null pointer is returned instead.

In some other systems, fdopen may fail to detect that the modes for file descriptor do not permit the access specified by opentype. The GNU C library always checks for this.

For an example showing the use of the fdopen function, see section Creating a Pipe.

Function: int fileno (FILE *stream)
This function returns the file descriptor associated with the stream stream. If an error is detected (for example, if the stream is not valid) or if stream does not do I/O to a file, fileno returns -1.

There are also symbolic constants defined in `unistd.h' for the file descriptors belonging to the standard streams stdin, stdout, and stderr; see section Standard Streams.

STDIN_FILENO
This macro has value 0, which is the file descriptor for standard input.
STDOUT_FILENO
This macro has value 1, which is the file descriptor for standard output.
STDERR_FILENO
This macro has value 2, which is the file descriptor for standard error output.

Dangers of Mixing Streams and Descriptors

You can have multiple file descriptors and streams (let's call both streams and descriptors "channels" for short) connected to the same file, but you must take care to avoid confusion between channels. There are two cases to consider: linked channels that share a single file position value, and independent channels that have their own file positions.

It's best to use just one channel in your program for actual data transfer to any given file, except when all the access is for input. For example, if you open a pipe (something you can only do at the file descriptor level), either do all I/O with the descriptor, or construct a stream from the descriptor with fdopen and then do all I/O with the stream.

Linked Channels

Channels that come from a single opening share the same file position; we call them linked channels. Linked channels result when you make a stream from a descriptor using fdopen, when you get a descriptor from a stream with fileno, when you copy a descriptor with dup or dup2, and when descriptors are inherited during fork. For files that don't support random access, such as terminals and pipes, all channels are effectively linked. On random-access files, all append-type output streams are effectively linked to each other.

If you have been using a stream for I/O, and you want to do I/O using another channel (either a stream or a descriptor) that is linked to it, you must first clean up the stream that you have been using. See section Cleaning Streams.

Terminating a process, or executing a new program in the process, destroys all the streams in the process. If descriptors linked to these streams persist in other processes, their file positions become undefined as a result. To prevent this, you must clean up the streams before destroying them.

Independent Channels

When you open channels (streams or descriptors) separately on a seekable file, each channel has its own file position. These are called independent channels.

The system handles each channel independently. Most of the time, this is quite predictable and natural (especially for input): each channel can read or write sequentially at its own place in the file. However, if some of the channels are streams, you must take these precautions:

If you do output to one channel at the end of the file, this will certainly leave the other independent channels positioned somewhere before the new end. You cannot reliably set their file positions to the new end of file before writing, because the file can always be extended by another process between when you set the file position and when you write the data. Instead, use an append-type descriptor or stream; they always output at the current end of the file. In order to make the end-of-file position accurate, you must clean the output channel you were using, if it is a stream.

It's impossible for two channels to have separate file pointers for a file that doesn't support random access. Thus, channels for reading or writing such files are always linked, never independent. Append-type channels are also always linked. For these channels, follow the rules for linked channels; see section Linked Channels.

Cleaning Streams

On the GNU system, you can clean up any stream with fclean:

Function: int fclean (FILE *stream)
Clean up the stream stream so that its buffer is empty. If stream is doing output, force it out. If stream is doing input, give the data in the buffer back to the system, arranging to reread it.

On other systems, you can use fflush to clean a stream in most cases.

You can skip the fclean or fflush if you know the stream is already clean. A stream is clean whenever its buffer is empty. For example, an unbuffered stream is always clean. An input stream that is at end-of-file is clean. A line-buffered stream is clean when the last character output was a newline.

There is one case in which cleaning a stream is impossible on most systems. This is when the stream is doing input from a file that is not random-access. Such streams typically read ahead, and when the file is not random access, there is no way to give back the excess data already read. When an input stream reads from a random-access file, fflush does clean the stream, but leaves the file pointer at an unpredictable place; you must set the file pointer before doing any further I/O. On the GNU system, using fclean avoids both of these problems.

Closing an output-only stream also does fflush, so this is a valid way of cleaning an output stream. On the GNU system, closing an input stream does fclean.

You need not clean a stream before using its descriptor for control operations such as setting terminal modes; these operations don't affect the file position and are not affected by it. You can use any descriptor for these operations, and all channels are affected simultaneously. However, text already "output" to a stream but still buffered by the stream will be subject to the new terminal modes when subsequently flushed. To make sure "past" output is covered by the terminal settings that were in effect at the time, flush the output streams for that terminal before setting the modes. See section Terminal Modes.

Waiting for Input or Output

Sometimes a program needs to accept input on multiple input channels whenever input arrives. For example, some workstations may have devices such as a digitizing tablet, function button box, or dial box that are connected via normal asynchronous serial interfaces; good user interface style requires responding immediately to input on any device. Another example is a program that acts as a server to several other processes via pipes or sockets.

You cannot normally use read for this purpose, because this blocks the program until input is available on one particular file descriptor; input on other channels won't wake it up. You could set nonblocking mode and poll each file descriptor in turn, but this is very inefficient.

A better solution is to use the select function. This blocks the program until input or output is ready on a specified set of file descriptors, or until a timer expires, whichever comes first. This facility is declared in the header file `sys/types.h'.

In the case of a server socket (see section Listening for Connections), we say that "input" is available when there are pending connections that could be accepted (see section Accepting Connections). accept for server sockets blocks and interacts with select just as read does for normal input.

The file descriptor sets for the select function are specified as fd_set objects. Here is the description of the data type and some macros for manipulating these objects.

Data Type: fd_set
The fd_set data type represents file descriptor sets for the select function. It is actually a bit array.

Macro: int FD_SETSIZE
The value of this macro is the maximum number of file descriptors that a fd_set object can hold information about. On systems with a fixed maximum number, FD_SETSIZE is at least that number. On some systems, including GNU, there is no absolute limit on the number of descriptors open, but this macro still has a constant value which controls the number of bits in an fd_set; if you get a file descriptor with a value as high as FD_SETSIZE, you cannot put that descriptor into an fd_set.

Macro: void FD_ZERO (fd_set *set)
This macro initializes the file descriptor set set to be the empty set.

Macro: void FD_SET (int filedes, fd_set *set)
This macro adds filedes to the file descriptor set set.

Macro: void FD_CLR (int filedes, fd_set *set)
This macro removes filedes from the file descriptor set set.

Macro: int FD_ISSET (int filedes, fd_set *set)
This macro returns a nonzero value (true) if filedes is a member of the the file descriptor set set, and zero (false) otherwise.

Next, here is the description of the select function itself.

Function: int select (int nfds, fd_set *read-fds, fd_set *write-fds, fd_set *except-fds, struct timeval *timeout)
The select function blocks the calling process until there is activity on any of the specified sets of file descriptors, or until the timeout period has expired.

The file descriptors specified by the read-fds argument are checked to see if they are ready for reading; the write-fds file descriptors are checked to see if they are ready for writing; and the except-fds file descriptors are checked for exceptional conditions. You can pass a null pointer for any of these arguments if you are not interested in checking for that kind of condition.

A file descriptor is considered ready for reading if it is at end of file. A server socket is considered ready for reading if there is a pending connection which can be accepted with accept; see section Accepting Connections. A client socket is ready for writing when its connection is fully established; see section Making a Connection.

"Exceptional conditions" does not mean errors--errors are reported immediately when an erroneous system call is executed, and do not constitute a state of the descriptor. Rather, they include conditions such as the presence of an urgent message on a socket. (See section Sockets, for information on urgent messages.)

The select function checks only the first nfds file descriptors. The usual thing is to pass FD_SETSIZE as the value of this argument.

The timeout specifies the maximum time to wait. If you pass a null pointer for this argument, it means to block indefinitely until one of the file descriptors is ready. Otherwise, you should provide the time in struct timeval format; see section High-Resolution Calendar. Specify zero as the time (a struct timeval containing all zeros) if you want to find out which descriptors are ready without waiting if none are ready.

The normal return value from select is the total number of ready file descriptors in all of the sets. Each of the argument sets is overwritten with information about the descriptors that are ready for the corresponding operation. Thus, to see if a particular descriptor desc has input, use FD_ISSET (desc, read-fds) after select returns.

If select returns because the timeout period expires, it returns a value of zero.

Any signal will cause select to return immediately. So if your program uses signals, you can't rely on select to keep waiting for the full time specified. If you want to be sure of waiting for a particular amount of time, you must check for EINTR and repeat the select with a newly calculated timeout based on the current time. See the example below. See also section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.

If an error occurs, select returns -1 and does not modify the argument file descriptor sets. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
One of the file descriptor sets specified an invalid file descriptor.
EINTR
The operation was interrupted by a signal. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.
EINVAL
The timeout argument is invalid; one of the components is negative or too large.

Portability Note: The select function is a BSD Unix feature.

Here is an example showing how you can use select to establish a timeout period for reading from a file descriptor. The input_timeout function blocks the calling process until input is available on the file descriptor, or until the timeout period expires.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/time.h>

int 
input_timeout (int filedes, unsigned int seconds)
{
  fd_set set;
  struct timeval timeout;

  /* Initialize the file descriptor set. */
  FD_ZERO (&set);
  FD_SET (filedes, &set);

  /* Initialize the timeout data structure. */
  timeout.tv_sec = seconds;
  timeout.tv_usec = 0;

  /* select returns 0 if timeout, 1 if input available, -1 if error. */
  return TEMP_FAILURE_RETRY (select (FD_SETSIZE,
                                     &set, NULL, NULL,
                                     &timeout));
}

int
main (void)
{
  fprintf (stderr, "select returned %d.\n",
           input_timeout (STDIN_FILENO, 5));
  return 0;
}

There is another example showing the use of select to multiplex input from multiple sockets in section Byte Stream Connection Server Example.

Control Operations on Files

This section describes how you can perform various other operations on file descriptors, such as inquiring about or setting flags describing the status of the file descriptor, manipulating record locks, and the like. All of these operations are performed by the function fcntl.

The second argument to the fcntl function is a command that specifies which operation to perform. The function and macros that name various flags that are used with it are declared in the header file `fcntl.h'. Many of these flags are also used by the open function; see section Opening and Closing Files.

Function: int fcntl (int filedes, int command, ...)
The fcntl function performs the operation specified by command on the file descriptor filedes. Some commands require additional arguments to be supplied. These additional arguments and the return value and error conditions are given in the detailed descriptions of the individual commands.

Briefly, here is a list of what the various commands are.

F_DUPFD
Duplicate the file descriptor (return another file descriptor pointing to the same open file). See section Duplicating Descriptors.
F_GETFD
Get flags associated with the file descriptor. See section File Descriptor Flags.
F_SETFD
Set flags associated with the file descriptor. See section File Descriptor Flags.
F_GETFL
Get flags associated with the open file. See section File Status Flags.
F_SETFL
Set flags associated with the open file. See section File Status Flags.
F_GETLK
Get a file lock. See section File Locks.
F_SETLK
Set or clear a file lock. See section File Locks.
F_SETLKW
Like F_SETLK, but wait for completion. See section File Locks.
F_GETOWN
Get process or process group ID to receive SIGIO signals. See section Interrupt-Driven Input.
F_SETOWN
Set process or process group ID to receive SIGIO signals. See section Interrupt-Driven Input.

Duplicating Descriptors

You can duplicate a file descriptor, or allocate another file descriptor that refers to the same open file as the original. Duplicate descriptors share one file position and one set of file status flags (see section File Status Flags), but each has its own set of file descriptor flags (see section File Descriptor Flags).

The major use of duplicating a file descriptor is to implement redirection of input or output: that is, to change the file or pipe that a particular file descriptor corresponds to.

You can perform this operation using the fcntl function with the F_DUPFD command, but there are also convenient functions dup and dup2 for duplicating descriptors.

The fcntl function and flags are declared in `fcntl.h', while prototypes for dup and dup2 are in the header file `unistd.h'.

Function: int dup (int old)
This function copies descriptor old to the first available descriptor number (the first number not currently open). It is equivalent to fcntl (old, F_DUPFD, 0).

Function: int dup2 (int old, int new)
This function copies the descriptor old to descriptor number new.

If old is an invalid descriptor, then dup2 does nothing; it does not close new. Otherwise, the new duplicate of old replaces any previous meaning of descriptor new, as if new were closed first.

If old and new are different numbers, and old is a valid descriptor number, then dup2 is equivalent to:

close (new);
fcntl (old, F_DUPFD, new)

However, dup2 does this atomically; there is no instant in the middle of calling dup2 at which new is closed and not yet a duplicate of old.

Macro: int F_DUPFD
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to copy the file descriptor given as the first argument.

The form of the call in this case is:

fcntl (old, F_DUPFD, next-filedes)

The next-filedes argument is of type int and specifies that the file descriptor returned should be the next available one greater than or equal to this value.

The return value from fcntl with this command is normally the value of the new file descriptor. A return value of -1 indicates an error. The following errno error conditions are defined for this command:

EBADF
The old argument is invalid.
EINVAL
The next-filedes argument is invalid.
EMFILE
There are no more file descriptors available--your program is already using the maximum. In BSD and GNU, the maximum is controlled by a resource limit that can be changed; see section Limiting Resource Usage, for more information about the RLIMIT_NOFILE limit.

ENFILE is not a possible error code for dup2 because dup2 does not create a new opening of a file; duplicate descriptors do not count toward the limit which ENFILE indicates. EMFILE is possible because it refers to the limit on distinct descriptor numbers in use in one process.

Here is an example showing how to use dup2 to do redirection. Typically, redirection of the standard streams (like stdin) is done by a shell or shell-like program before calling one of the exec functions (see section Executing a File) to execute a new program in a child process. When the new program is executed, it creates and initializes the standard streams to point to the corresponding file descriptors, before its main function is invoked.

So, to redirect standard input to a file, the shell could do something like:

pid = fork ();
if (pid == 0)
  {
    char *filename;
    char *program;
    int file;
    ...
    file = TEMP_FAILURE_RETRY (open (filename, O_RDONLY));
    dup2 (file, STDIN_FILENO);
    TEMP_FAILURE_RETRY (close (file));
    execv (program, NULL);
  }

There is also a more detailed example showing how to implement redirection in the context of a pipeline of processes in section Launching Jobs.

File Descriptor Flags

File descriptor flags are miscellaneous attributes of a file descriptor. These flags are associated with particular file descriptors, so that if you have created duplicate file descriptors from a single opening of a file, each descriptor has its own set of flags.

Currently there is just one file descriptor flag: FD_CLOEXEC, which causes the descriptor to be closed if you use any of the exec... functions (see section Executing a File).

The symbols in this section are defined in the header file `fcntl.h'.

Macro: int F_GETFD
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to specify that it should return the file descriptor flags associated with the filedes argument.

The normal return value from fcntl with this command is a nonnegative number which can be interpreted as the bitwise OR of the individual flags (except that currently there is only one flag to use).

In case of an error, fcntl returns -1. The following errno error conditions are defined for this command:

EBADF
The filedes argument is invalid.

Macro: int F_SETFD
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to specify that it should set the file descriptor flags associated with the filedes argument. This requires a third int argument to specify the new flags, so the form of the call is:

fcntl (filedes, F_SETFD, new-flags)

The normal return value from fcntl with this command is an unspecified value other than -1, which indicates an error. The flags and error conditions are the same as for the F_GETFD command.

The following macro is defined for use as a file descriptor flag with the fcntl function. The value is an integer constant usable as a bit mask value.

Macro: int FD_CLOEXEC
This flag specifies that the file descriptor should be closed when an exec function is invoked; see section Executing a File. When a file descriptor is allocated (as with open or dup), this bit is initially cleared on the new file descriptor, meaning that descriptor will survive into the new program after exec.

If you want to modify the file descriptor flags, you should get the current flags with F_GETFD and modify the value. Don't assume that the flags listed here are the only ones that are implemented; your program may be run years from now and more flags may exist then. For example, here is a function to set or clear the flag FD_CLOEXEC without altering any other flags:

/* Set the FD_CLOEXEC flag of desc if value is nonzero,
   or clear the flag if value is 0.
   Return 0 on success, or -1 on error with errno set. */

int
set_cloexec_flag (int desc, int value)
{
  int oldflags = fcntl (desc, F_GETFD, 0);
  /* If reading the flags failed, return error indication now.
  if (oldflags < 0)
    return oldflags;
  /* Set just the flag we want to set. */
  if (value != 0)
    oldflags |= FD_CLOEXEC;
  else
    oldflags &= ~FD_CLOEXEC;
  /* Store modified flag word in the descriptor. */
  return fcntl (desc, F_SETFD, oldflags);
}

File Status Flags

File status flags are used to specify attributes of the opening of a file. Unlike the file descriptor flags discussed in section File Descriptor Flags, the file status flags are shared by duplicated file descriptors resulting from a single opening of the file. The file status flags are specified with the flags argument to open; see section Opening and Closing Files.

File status flags fall into three categories, which are described in the following sections.

The symbols in this section are defined in the header file `fcntl.h'.

File Access Modes

The file access modes allow a file descriptor to be used for reading, writing, or both. (In the GNU system, they can also allow none of these, and allow execution of the file as a program.) The access modes are chosen when the file is opened, and never change.

Macro: int O_RDONLY
Open the file for read access.

Macro: int O_WRONLY
Open the file for write access.

Macro: int O_RDWR
Open the file for both reading and writing.

In the GNU system (and not in other systems), O_RDONLY and O_WRONLY are independent bits that can be bitwise-ORed together, and it is valid for either bit to be set or clear. This means that O_RDWR is the same as O_RDONLY|O_WRONLY. A file access mode of zero is permissible; it allows no operations that do input or output to the file, but does allow other operations such as fchmod. On the GNU system, since "read-only" or "write-only" is a misnomer, `fcntl.h' defines additional names for the file access modes. These names are preferred when writing GNU-specific code. But most programs will want to be portable to other POSIX.1 systems and should use the POSIX.1 names above instead.

Macro: int O_READ
Open the file for reading. Same as O_RDWR; only defined on GNU.

Macro: int O_WRITE
Open the file for reading. Same as O_WRONLY; only defined on GNU.

Macro: int O_EXEC
Open the file for executing. Only defined on GNU.

To determine the file access mode with fcntl, you must extract the access mode bits from the retrieved file status flags. In the GNU system, you can just test the O_READ and O_WRITE bits in the flags word. But in other POSIX.1 systems, reading and writing access modes are not stored as distinct bit flags. The portable way to extract the file access mode bits is with O_ACCMODE.

Macro: int O_ACCMODE
This macro stands for a mask that can be bitwise-ANDed with the file status flag value to produce a value representing the file access mode. The mode will be O_RDONLY, O_WRONLY, or O_RDWR. (In the GNU system it could also be zero, and it never includes the O_EXEC bit.)

Open-time Flags

The open-time flags specify options affecting how open will behave. These options are not preserved once the file is open. The exception to this is O_NONBLOCK, which is also an I/O operating mode and so it is saved. See section Opening and Closing Files, for how to call open.

There are two sorts of options specified by open-time flags.

Here are the file name translation flags.

Macro: int O_CREAT
If set, the file will be created if it doesn't already exist.

Macro: int O_EXCL
If both O_CREAT and O_EXCL are set, then open fails if the specified file already exists. This is guaranteed to never clobber an existing file.

Macro: int O_NONBLOCK
This prevents open from blocking for a "long time" to open the file. This is only meaningful for some kinds of files, usually devices such as serial ports; when it is not meaningful, it is harmless and ignored. Often opening a port to a modem blocks until the modem reports carrier detection; if O_NONBLOCK is specified, open will return immediately without a carrier.

Note that the O_NONBLOCK flag is overloaded as both an I/O operating mode and a file name translation flag. This means that specifying O_NONBLOCK in open also sets nonblocking I/O mode; see section I/O Operating Modes. To open the file without blocking but do normal I/O that blocks, you must call open with O_NONBLOCK set and then call fcntl to turn the bit off.

Macro: int O_NOCTTY
If the named file is a terminal device, don't make it the controlling terminal for the process. See section Job Control, for information about what it means to be the controlling terminal.

In the GNU system and 4.4 BSD, opening a file never makes it the controlling terminal and O_NOCTTY is zero. However, other systems may use a nonzero value for O_NOCTTY and set the controlling terminal when you open a file that is a terminal device; so to be portable, use O_NOCTTY when it is important to avoid this.

The following three file name translation flags exist only in the GNU system.

Macro: int O_IGNORE_CTTY
Do not recognize the named file as the controlling terminal, even if it refers to the process's existing controlling terminal device. Operations on the new file descriptor will never induce job control signals. See section Job Control.

Macro: int O_NOLINK
If the named file is a symbolic link, open the link itself instead of the file it refers to. (fstat on the new file descriptor will return the information returned by lstat on the link's name.)

Macro: int O_NOTRANS
If the named file is specially translated, do not invoke the translator. Open the bare file the translator itself sees.

The open-time action flags tell open to do additional operations which are not really related to opening the file. The reason to do them as part of open instead of in separate calls is that open can do them atomically.

Macro: int O_TRUNC
Truncate the file to zero length. This option is only useful for regular files, not special files such as directories or FIFOs. POSIX.1 requires that you open the file for writing to use O_TRUNC. In BSD and GNU you must have permission to write the file to truncate it, but you need not open for write access.

This is the only open-time action flag specified by POSIX.1. There is no good reason for truncation to be done by open, instead of by calling ftruncate afterwards. The O_TRUNC flag existed in Unix before ftruncate was invented, and is retained for backward compatibility.

Macro: int O_SHLOCK
Acquire a shared lock on the file, as with flock. See section File Locks.

If O_CREAT is specified, the locking is done atomically when creating the file. You are guaranteed that no other process will get the lock on the new file first.

Macro: int O_EXLOCK
Acquire an exclusive lock on the file, as with flock. See section File Locks. This is atomic like O_SHLOCK.

I/O Operating Modes

The operating modes affect how input and output operations using a file descriptor work. These flags are set by open and can be fetched and changed with fcntl.

Macro: int O_APPEND
The bit that enables append mode for the file. If set, then all write operations write the data at the end of the file, extending it, regardless of the current file position. This is the only reliable way to append to a file. In append mode, you are guaranteed that the data you write will always go to the current end of the file, regardless of other processes writing to the file. Conversely, if you simply set the file position to the end of file and write, then another process can extend the file after you set the file position but before you write, resulting in your data appearing someplace before the real end of file.

Macro: int O_NONBLOCK
The bit that enables nonblocking mode for the file. If this bit is set, read requests on the file can return immediately with a failure status if there is no input immediately available, instead of blocking. Likewise, write requests can also return immediately with a failure status if the output can't be written immediately.

Note that the O_NONBLOCK flag is overloaded as both an I/O operating mode and a file name translation flag; see section Open-time Flags.

Macro: int O_NDELAY
This is an obsolete name for O_NONBLOCK, provided for compatibility with BSD. It is not defined by the POSIX.1 standard.

The remaining operating modes are BSD and GNU extensions. They exist only on some systems. On other systems, these macros are not defined.

Macro: int O_ASYNC
The bit that enables asynchronous input mode. If set, then SIGIO signals will be generated when input is available. See section Interrupt-Driven Input.

Asynchronous input mode is a BSD feature.

Macro: int O_FSYNC
The bit that enables synchronous writing for the file. If set, each write call will make sure the data is reliably stored on disk before returning.

Synchronous writing is a BSD feature.

Macro: int O_SYNC
This is another name for O_FSYNC. They have the same value.

Macro: int O_NOATIME
If this bit is set, read will not update the access time of the file. See section File Times. This is used by programs that do backups, so that backing a file up does not count as reading it. Only the owner of the file or the superuser may use this bit.

This is a GNU extension.

Getting and Setting File Status Flags

The fcntl function can fetch or change file status flags.

Macro: int F_GETFL
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to read the file status flags for the open file with descriptor filedes.

The normal return value from fcntl with this command is a nonnegative number which can be interpreted as the bitwise OR of the individual flags. Since the file access modes are not single-bit values, you can mask off other bits in the returned flags with O_ACCMODE to compare them.

In case of an error, fcntl returns -1. The following errno error conditions are defined for this command:

EBADF
The filedes argument is invalid.

Macro: int F_SETFL
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to set the file status flags for the open file corresponding to the filedes argument. This command requires a third int argument to specify the new flags, so the call looks like this:

fcntl (filedes, F_SETFL, new-flags)

You can't change the access mode for the file in this way; that is, whether the file descriptor was opened for reading or writing.

The normal return value from fcntl with this command is an unspecified value other than -1, which indicates an error. The error conditions are the same as for the F_GETFL command.

If you want to modify the file status flags, you should get the current flags with F_GETFL and modify the value. Don't assume that the flags listed here are the only ones that are implemented; your program may be run years from now and more flags may exist then. For example, here is a function to set or clear the flag O_NONBLOCK without altering any other flags:

/* Set the O_NONBLOCK flag of desc if value is nonzero,
   or clear the flag if value is 0.
   Return 0 on success, or -1 on error with errno set. */

int
set_nonblock_flag (int desc, int value)
{
  int oldflags = fcntl (desc, F_GETFL, 0);
  /* If reading the flags failed, return error indication now. */
  if (oldflags == -1)
    return -1;
  /* Set just the flag we want to set. */
  if (value != 0)
    oldflags |= O_NONBLOCK;
  else
    oldflags &= ~O_NONBLOCK;
  /* Store modified flag word in the descriptor. */
  return fcntl (desc, F_SETFL, oldflags);
}

File Locks

The remaining fcntl commands are used to support record locking, which permits multiple cooperating programs to prevent each other from simultaneously accessing parts of a file in error-prone ways.

An exclusive or write lock gives a process exclusive access for writing to the specified part of the file. While a write lock is in place, no other process can lock that part of the file.

A shared or read lock prohibits any other process from requesting a write lock on the specified part of the file. However, other processes can request read locks.

The read and write functions do not actually check to see whether there are any locks in place. If you want to implement a locking protocol for a file shared by multiple processes, your application must do explicit fcntl calls to request and clear locks at the appropriate points.

Locks are associated with processes. A process can only have one kind of lock set for each byte of a given file. When any file descriptor for that file is closed by the process, all of the locks that process holds on that file are released, even if the locks were made using other descriptors that remain open. Likewise, locks are released when a process exits, and are not inherited by child processes created using fork (see section Creating a Process).

When making a lock, use a struct flock to specify what kind of lock and where. This data type and the associated macros for the fcntl function are declared in the header file `fcntl.h'.

Data Type: struct flock
This structure is used with the fcntl function to describe a file lock. It has these members:

short int l_type
Specifies the type of the lock; one of F_RDLCK, F_WRLCK, or F_UNLCK.
short int l_whence
This corresponds to the whence argument to fseek or lseek, and specifies what the offset is relative to. Its value can be one of SEEK_SET, SEEK_CUR, or SEEK_END.
off_t l_start
This specifies the offset of the start of the region to which the lock applies, and is given in bytes relative to the point specified by l_whence member.
off_t l_len
This specifies the length of the region to be locked. A value of 0 is treated specially; it means the region extends to the end of the file.
pid_t l_pid
This field is the process ID (see section Process Creation Concepts) of the process holding the lock. It is filled in by calling fcntl with the F_GETLK command, but is ignored when making a lock.

Macro: int F_GETLK
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to specify that it should get information about a lock. This command requires a third argument of type struct flock * to be passed to fcntl, so that the form of the call is:

fcntl (filedes, F_GETLK, lockp)

If there is a lock already in place that would block the lock described by the lockp argument, information about that lock overwrites *lockp. Existing locks are not reported if they are compatible with making a new lock as specified. Thus, you should specify a lock type of F_WRLCK if you want to find out about both read and write locks, or F_RDLCK if you want to find out about write locks only.

There might be more than one lock affecting the region specified by the lockp argument, but fcntl only returns information about one of them. The l_whence member of the lockp structure is set to SEEK_SET and the l_start and l_len fields set to identify the locked region.

If no lock applies, the only change to the lockp structure is to update the l_type to a value of F_UNLCK.

The normal return value from fcntl with this command is an unspecified value other than -1, which is reserved to indicate an error. The following errno error conditions are defined for this command:

EBADF
The filedes argument is invalid.
EINVAL
Either the lockp argument doesn't specify valid lock information, or the file associated with filedes doesn't support locks.

Macro: int F_SETLK
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to specify that it should set or clear a lock. This command requires a third argument of type struct flock * to be passed to fcntl, so that the form of the call is:

fcntl (filedes, F_SETLK, lockp)

If the process already has a lock on any part of the region, the old lock on that part is replaced with the new lock. You can remove a lock by specifying a lock type of F_UNLCK.

If the lock cannot be set, fcntl returns immediately with a value of -1. This function does not block waiting for other processes to release locks. If fcntl succeeds, it return a value other than -1.

The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EAGAIN
EACCES
The lock cannot be set because it is blocked by an existing lock on the file. Some systems use EAGAIN in this case, and other systems use EACCES; your program should treat them alike, after F_SETLK. (The GNU system always uses EAGAIN.)
EBADF
Either: the filedes argument is invalid; you requested a read lock but the filedes is not open for read access; or, you requested a write lock but the filedes is not open for write access.
EINVAL
Either the lockp argument doesn't specify valid lock information, or the file associated with filedes doesn't support locks.
ENOLCK
The system has run out of file lock resources; there are already too many file locks in place. Well-designed file systems never report this error, because they have no limitation on the number of locks. However, you must still take account of the possibility of this error, as it could result from network access to a file system on another machine.

Macro: int F_SETLKW
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to specify that it should set or clear a lock. It is just like the F_SETLK command, but causes the process to block (or wait) until the request can be specified.

This command requires a third argument of type struct flock *, as for the F_SETLK command.

The fcntl return values and errors are the same as for the F_SETLK command, but these additional errno error conditions are defined for this command:

EINTR
The function was interrupted by a signal while it was waiting. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.
EDEADLK
The specified region is being locked by another process. But that process is waiting to lock a region which the current process has locked, so waiting for the lock would result in deadlock. The system does not guarantee that it will detect all such conditions, but it lets you know if it notices one.

The following macros are defined for use as values for the l_type member of the flock structure. The values are integer constants.

F_RDLCK
This macro is used to specify a read (or shared) lock.
F_WRLCK
This macro is used to specify a write (or exclusive) lock.
F_UNLCK
This macro is used to specify that the region is unlocked.

As an example of a situation where file locking is useful, consider a program that can be run simultaneously by several different users, that logs status information to a common file. One example of such a program might be a game that uses a file to keep track of high scores. Another example might be a program that records usage or accounting information for billing purposes.

Having multiple copies of the program simultaneously writing to the file could cause the contents of the file to become mixed up. But you can prevent this kind of problem by setting a write lock on the file before actually writing to the file.

If the program also needs to read the file and wants to make sure that the contents of the file are in a consistent state, then it can also use a read lock. While the read lock is set, no other process can lock that part of the file for writing.

Remember that file locks are only a voluntary protocol for controlling access to a file. There is still potential for access to the file by programs that don't use the lock protocol.

Interrupt-Driven Input

If you set the O_ASYNC status flag on a file descriptor (see section File Status Flags), a SIGIO signal is sent whenever input or output becomes possible on that file descriptor. The process or process group to receive the signal can be selected by using the F_SETOWN command to the fcntl function. If the file descriptor is a socket, this also selects the recipient of SIGURG signals that are delivered when out-of-band data arrives on that socket; see section Out-of-Band Data. (SIGURG is sent in any situation where select would report the socket as having an "exceptional condition". See section Waiting for Input or Output.)

If the file descriptor corresponds to a terminal device, then SIGIO signals are sent to the foreground process group of the terminal. See section Job Control.

The symbols in this section are defined in the header file `fcntl.h'.

Macro: int F_GETOWN
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to specify that it should get information about the process or process group to which SIGIO signals are sent. (For a terminal, this is actually the foreground process group ID, which you can get using tcgetpgrp; see section Functions for Controlling Terminal Access.)

The return value is interpreted as a process ID; if negative, its absolute value is the process group ID.

The following errno error condition is defined for this command:

EBADF
The filedes argument is invalid.

Macro: int F_SETOWN
This macro is used as the command argument to fcntl, to specify that it should set the process or process group to which SIGIO signals are sent. This command requires a third argument of type pid_t to be passed to fcntl, so that the form of the call is:

fcntl (filedes, F_SETOWN, pid)

The pid argument should be a process ID. You can also pass a negative number whose absolute value is a process group ID.

The return value from fcntl with this command is -1 in case of error and some other value if successful. The following errno error conditions are defined for this command:

EBADF
The filedes argument is invalid.
ESRCH
There is no process or process group corresponding to pid.

File System Interface

This chapter describes the GNU C library's functions for manipulating files. Unlike the input and output functions described in section Input/Output on Streams and section Low-Level Input/Output, these functions are concerned with operating on the files themselves, rather than on their contents.

Among the facilities described in this chapter are functions for examining or modifying directories, functions for renaming and deleting files, and functions for examining and setting file attributes such as access permissions and modification times.

Working Directory

Each process has associated with it a directory, called its current working directory or simply working directory, that is used in the resolution of relative file names (see section File Name Resolution).

When you log in and begin a new session, your working directory is initially set to the home directory associated with your login account in the system user database. You can find any user's home directory using the getpwuid or getpwnam functions; see section User Database.

Users can change the working directory using shell commands like cd. The functions described in this section are the primitives used by those commands and by other programs for examining and changing the working directory.

Prototypes for these functions are declared in the header file `unistd.h'.

Function: char * getcwd (char *buffer, size_t size)
The getcwd function returns an absolute file name representing the current working directory, storing it in the character array buffer that you provide. The size argument is how you tell the system the allocation size of buffer.

The GNU library version of this function also permits you to specify a null pointer for the buffer argument. Then getcwd allocates a buffer automatically, as with malloc (see section Unconstrained Allocation). If the size is greater than zero, then the buffer is that large; otherwise, the buffer is as large as necessary to hold the result.

The return value is buffer on success and a null pointer on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EINVAL
The size argument is zero and buffer is not a null pointer.
ERANGE
The size argument is less than the length of the working directory name. You need to allocate a bigger array and try again.
EACCES
Permission to read or search a component of the file name was denied.

Here is an example showing how you could implement the behavior of GNU's getcwd (NULL, 0) using only the standard behavior of getcwd:

char *
gnu_getcwd ()
{
  int size = 100;
  char *buffer = (char *) xmalloc (size);

  while (1)
    {
      char *value = getcwd (buffer, size);
      if (value != 0)
        return buffer;
      size *= 2;
      free (buffer);
      buffer = (char *) xmalloc (size);
    }
}

See section Examples of malloc, for information about xmalloc, which is not a library function but is a customary name used in most GNU software.

Function: char * getwd (char *buffer)
This is similar to getcwd, but has no way to specify the size of the buffer. The GNU library provides getwd only for backwards compatibility with BSD.

The buffer argument should be a pointer to an array at least PATH_MAX bytes long (see section Limits on File System Capacity). In the GNU system there is no limit to the size of a file name, so this is not necessarily enough space to contain the directory name. That is why this function is deprecated.

Function: int chdir (const char *filename)
This function is used to set the process's working directory to filename.

The normal, successful return value from chdir is 0. A value of -1 is returned to indicate an error. The errno error conditions defined for this function are the usual file name syntax errors (see section File Name Errors), plus ENOTDIR if the file filename is not a directory.

Accessing Directories

The facilities described in this section let you read the contents of a directory file. This is useful if you want your program to list all the files in a directory, perhaps as part of a menu.

The opendir function opens a directory stream whose elements are directory entries. You use the readdir function on the directory stream to retrieve these entries, represented as struct dirent objects. The name of the file for each entry is stored in the d_name member of this structure. There are obvious parallels here to the stream facilities for ordinary files, described in section Input/Output on Streams.

Format of a Directory Entry

This section describes what you find in a single directory entry, as you might obtain it from a directory stream. All the symbols are declared in the header file `dirent.h'.

Data Type: struct dirent
This is a structure type used to return information about directory entries. It contains the following fields:

char d_name[]
This is the null-terminated file name component. This is the only field you can count on in all POSIX systems.
ino_t d_fileno
This is the file serial number. For BSD compatibility, you can also refer to this member as d_ino. In the GNU system and most POSIX systems, for most files this the same as the st_ino member that stat will return for the file. See section File Attributes.
unsigned char d_namlen
This is the length of the file name, not including the terminating null character. Its type is unsigned char because that is the integer type of the appropriate size
unsigned char d_type
This is the type of the file, possibly unknown. The following constants are defined for its value:
DT_UNKNOWN
The type is unknown. On some systems this is the only value returned.
DT_REG
A regular file.
DT_DIR
A directory.
DT_FIFO
A named pipe, or FIFO. See section FIFO Special Files.
DT_SOCK
A local-domain socket.
DT_CHR
A character device.
DT_BLK
A block device.
This member is a BSD extension. Each value except DT_UNKNOWN corresponds to the file type bits in the st_mode member of struct statbuf. These two macros convert between d_type values and st_mode values:
Function: int IFTODT (mode_t mode)
This returns the d_type value corresponding to mode.
Function: mode_t DTTOIF (int dirtype)
This returns the st_mode value corresponding to dirtype.

This structure may contain additional members in the future.

When a file has multiple names, each name has its own directory entry. The only way you can tell that the directory entries belong to a single file is that they have the same value for the d_fileno field.

File attributes such as size, modification times, and the like are part of the file itself, not any particular directory entry. See section File Attributes.

Opening a Directory Stream

This section describes how to open a directory stream. All the symbols are declared in the header file `dirent.h'.

Data Type: DIR
The DIR data type represents a directory stream.

You shouldn't ever allocate objects of the struct dirent or DIR data types, since the directory access functions do that for you. Instead, you refer to these objects using the pointers returned by the following functions.

Function: DIR * opendir (const char *dirname)
The opendir function opens and returns a directory stream for reading the directory whose file name is dirname. The stream has type DIR *.

If unsuccessful, opendir returns a null pointer. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EACCES
Read permission is denied for the directory named by dirname.
EMFILE
The process has too many files open.
ENFILE
The entire system, or perhaps the file system which contains the directory, cannot support any additional open files at the moment. (This problem cannot happen on the GNU system.)

The DIR type is typically implemented using a file descriptor, and the opendir function in terms of the open function. See section Low-Level Input/Output. Directory streams and the underlying file descriptors are closed on exec (see section Executing a File).

Reading and Closing a Directory Stream

This section describes how to read directory entries from a directory stream, and how to close the stream when you are done with it. All the symbols are declared in the header file `dirent.h'.

Function: struct dirent * readdir (DIR *dirstream)
This function reads the next entry from the directory. It normally returns a pointer to a structure containing information about the file. This structure is statically allocated and can be rewritten by a subsequent call.

Portability Note: On some systems, readdir may not return entries for `.' and `..', even though these are always valid file names in any directory. See section File Name Resolution.

If there are no more entries in the directory or an error is detected, readdir returns a null pointer. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The dirstream argument is not valid.

readdir is not thread safe. Multiple threads using readdir on the same dirstream may overwrite the return value. Use readdir_r when this is critical.

Function: int readdir_r (DIR *dirstream, struct dirent *entry, struct dirent **result)
This function is the reentrant version of readdir. Like readdir it returns the next entry from the directory. But to prevent conflicts for simultaneously running threads the result is not stored in some internal memory. Instead the argument entry has to point to a place where the result is stored.

The return value is 0 in case the next entry was read successfully. In this case a pointer to the result is returned in *result. It is not required that *result is the same as entry. If something goes wrong while executing readdir_r the function returns -1. The errno variable is set like described for readdir.

Portability Note: On some systems, readdir_r may not return a terminated string as the file name even if no d_reclen element is available in struct dirent and the file name as the maximal allowed size. Modern systems all have the d_reclen field and on old systems multi threading is not critical. In any case, there is no such problem with the readdir function so that even on systems without d_reclen field one could use multiple threads by using external locking.

Function: int closedir (DIR *dirstream)
This function closes the directory stream dirstream. It returns 0 on success and -1 on failure.

The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The dirstream argument is not valid.

Simple Program to List a Directory

Here's a simple program that prints the names of the files in the current working directory:

#include <stddef.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <dirent.h>

int
main (void)
{
  DIR *dp;
  struct dirent *ep;

  dp = opendir ("./");
  if (dp != NULL)
    {
      while (ep = readdir (dp))
        puts (ep->d_name);
      (void) closedir (dp);
    }
  else
    puts ("Couldn't open the directory.");

  return 0;
}

The order in which files appear in a directory tends to be fairly random. A more useful program would sort the entries (perhaps by alphabetizing them) before printing them; see section Scanning the Content of a Directory and section Array Sort Function.

Random Access in a Directory Stream

This section describes how to reread parts of a directory that you have already read from an open directory stream. All the symbols are declared in the header file `dirent.h'.

Function: void rewinddir (DIR *dirstream)
The rewinddir function is used to reinitialize the directory stream dirstream, so that if you call readdir it returns information about the first entry in the directory again. This function also notices if files have been added or removed to the directory since it was opened with opendir. (Entries for these files might or might not be returned by readdir if they were added or removed since you last called opendir or rewinddir.)

Function: off_t telldir (DIR *dirstream)
The telldir function returns the file position of the directory stream dirstream. You can use this value with seekdir to restore the directory stream to that position.

Function: void seekdir (DIR *dirstream, off_t pos)
The seekdir function sets the file position of the directory stream dirstream to pos. The value pos must be the result of a previous call to telldir on this particular stream; closing and reopening the directory can invalidate values returned by telldir.

Scanning the Content of a Directory

A higher-level interface to the directory handling functions is the scandir function. With its help one can select a subset of the entries in a directory, possibly sort them and get as the result a list of names.

Function: int scandir (const char *dir, struct dirent ***namelist, int (*selector) (struct dirent *), int (*cmp) (const void *, const void *))

The scandir function scans the contents of the directory selected by dir. The result in namelist is an array of pointers to structure of type struct dirent which describe all selected directory entries and which is allocated using malloc. Instead of always getting all directory entries returned, the user supplied function selector can be used to decide which entries are in the result. Only the entries for which selector returns a nonzero value are selected.

Finally the entries in the namelist are sorted using the user supplied function cmp. The arguments of the cmp function are of type struct dirent **. I.e., one cannot directly use the strcmp or strcoll function; see the function alphasort below.

The return value of the function gives the number of entries placed in namelist. If it is -1 an error occurred and the global variable errno contains more information on the error.

As said above the fourth argument to the scandir function must be a pointer to a sorting function. For the convenience of the programmer the GNU C library contains an implementation of a function which is very helpful for this purpose.

Function: int alphasort (const void *a, const void *b)
The alphasort function behaves like the strcmp function (see section String/Array Comparison). The difference is that the arguments are not string pointers but instead they are of type struct dirent **.

Return value of is less than, equal to, or greater than zero depending on the order of the two entries a and b.

Simple Program to List a Directory, Mark II

Here is a revised version of the directory lister found above (see section Simple Program to List a Directory). Using the scandir function we can avoid using the functions which directly work with the directory contents. After the call the found entries are available for direct used.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <dirent.h>

static int
one (struct dirent *unused)
{
  return 1;
}

int
main (void)
{
  struct dirent **eps;
  int n;

  n = scandir ("./", &eps, one, alphasort);
  if (n >= 0)
    {
      int cnt;
      for (cnt = 0; cnt < n; ++cnt)
        puts (eps[cnt]->d_name);
    }
  else
    perror ("Couldn't open the directory");

  return 0;
}

Please note the simple selector function for this example. Since we want to see all directory entries we always return 1.

Hard Links

In POSIX systems, one file can have many names at the same time. All of the names are equally real, and no one of them is preferred to the others.

To add a name to a file, use the link function. (The new name is also called a hard link to the file.) Creating a new link to a file does not copy the contents of the file; it simply makes a new name by which the file can be known, in addition to the file's existing name or names.

One file can have names in several directories, so the the organization of the file system is not a strict hierarchy or tree.

In most implementations, it is not possible to have hard links to the same file in multiple file systems. link reports an error if you try to make a hard link to the file from another file system when this cannot be done.

The prototype for the link function is declared in the header file `unistd.h'.

Function: int link (const char *oldname, const char *newname)
The link function makes a new link to the existing file named by oldname, under the new name newname.

This function returns a value of 0 if it is successful and -1 on failure. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors) for both oldname and newname, the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EACCES
You are not allowed to write the directory in which the new link is to be written.
EEXIST
There is already a file named newname. If you want to replace this link with a new link, you must remove the old link explicitly first.
EMLINK
There are already too many links to the file named by oldname. (The maximum number of links to a file is LINK_MAX; see section Limits on File System Capacity.)
ENOENT
The file named by oldname doesn't exist. You can't make a link to a file that doesn't exist.
ENOSPC
The directory or file system that would contain the new link is full and cannot be extended.
EPERM
In the GNU system and some others, you cannot make links to directories. Many systems allow only privileged users to do so. This error is used to report the problem.
EROFS
The directory containing the new link can't be modified because it's on a read-only file system.
EXDEV
The directory specified in newname is on a different file system than the existing file.
EIO
A hardware error occurred while trying to read or write the to filesystem.

Symbolic Links

The GNU system supports soft links or symbolic links. This is a kind of "file" that is essentially a pointer to another file name. Unlike hard links, symbolic links can be made to directories or across file systems with no restrictions. You can also make a symbolic link to a name which is not the name of any file. (Opening this link will fail until a file by that name is created.) Likewise, if the symbolic link points to an existing file which is later deleted, the symbolic link continues to point to the same file name even though the name no longer names any file.

The reason symbolic links work the way they do is that special things happen when you try to open the link. The open function realizes you have specified the name of a link, reads the file name contained in the link, and opens that file name instead. The stat function likewise operates on the file that the symbolic link points to, instead of on the link itself.

By contrast, other operations such as deleting or renaming the file operate on the link itself. The functions readlink and lstat also refrain from following symbolic links, because their purpose is to obtain information about the link. So does link, the function that makes a hard link--it makes a hard link to the symbolic link, which one rarely wants.

Prototypes for the functions listed in this section are in `unistd.h'.

Function: int symlink (const char *oldname, const char *newname)
The symlink function makes a symbolic link to oldname named newname.

The normal return value from symlink is 0. A return value of -1 indicates an error. In addition to the usual file name syntax errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EEXIST
There is already an existing file named newname.
EROFS
The file newname would exist on a read-only file system.
ENOSPC
The directory or file system cannot be extended to make the new link.
EIO
A hardware error occurred while reading or writing data on the disk.

Function: int readlink (const char *filename, char *buffer, size_t size)
The readlink function gets the value of the symbolic link filename. The file name that the link points to is copied into buffer. This file name string is not null-terminated; readlink normally returns the number of characters copied. The size argument specifies the maximum number of characters to copy, usually the allocation size of buffer.

If the return value equals size, you cannot tell whether or not there was room to return the entire name. So make a bigger buffer and call readlink again. Here is an example:

char *
readlink_malloc (char *filename)
{
  int size = 100;

  while (1)
    {
      char *buffer = (char *) xmalloc (size);
      int nchars = readlink (filename, buffer, size);
      if (nchars < size)
        return buffer;
      free (buffer);
      size *= 2;
    }
}

A value of -1 is returned in case of error. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EINVAL
The named file is not a symbolic link.
EIO
A hardware error occurred while reading or writing data on the disk.

Deleting Files

You can delete a file with the functions unlink or remove.

Deletion actually deletes a file name. If this is the file's only name, then the file is deleted as well. If the file has other names as well (see section Hard Links), it remains accessible under its other names.

Function: int unlink (const char *filename)
The unlink function deletes the file name filename. If this is a file's sole name, the file itself is also deleted. (Actually, if any process has the file open when this happens, deletion is postponed until all processes have closed the file.)

The function unlink is declared in the header file `unistd.h'.

This function returns 0 on successful completion, and -1 on error. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EACCES
Write permission is denied for the directory from which the file is to be removed, or the directory has the sticky bit set and you do not own the file.
EBUSY
This error indicates that the file is being used by the system in such a way that it can't be unlinked. For example, you might see this error if the file name specifies the root directory or a mount point for a file system.
ENOENT
The file name to be deleted doesn't exist.
EPERM
On some systems, unlink cannot be used to delete the name of a directory, or can only be used this way by a privileged user. To avoid such problems, use rmdir to delete directories. (In the GNU system unlink can never delete the name of a directory.)
EROFS
The directory in which the file name is to be deleted is on a read-only file system, and can't be modified.

Function: int rmdir (const char *filename)
The rmdir function deletes a directory. The directory must be empty before it can be removed; in other words, it can only contain entries for `.' and `..'.

In most other respects, rmdir behaves like unlink. There are two additional errno error conditions defined for rmdir:

ENOTEMPTY
EEXIST
The directory to be deleted is not empty.

These two error codes are synonymous; some systems use one, and some use the other. The GNU system always uses ENOTEMPTY.

The prototype for this function is declared in the header file `unistd.h'.

Function: int remove (const char *filename)
This is the ISO C function to remove a file. It works like unlink for files and like rmdir for directories. remove is declared in `stdio.h'.

Renaming Files

The rename function is used to change a file's name.

Function: int rename (const char *oldname, const char *newname)
The rename function renames the file name oldname with newname. The file formerly accessible under the name oldname is afterward accessible as newname instead. (If the file had any other names aside from oldname, it continues to have those names.)

The directory containing the name newname must be on the same file system as the file (as indicated by the name oldname).

One special case for rename is when oldname and newname are two names for the same file. The consistent way to handle this case is to delete oldname. However, POSIX requires that in this case rename do nothing and report success--which is inconsistent. We don't know what your operating system will do.

If the oldname is not a directory, then any existing file named newname is removed during the renaming operation. However, if newname is the name of a directory, rename fails in this case.

If the oldname is a directory, then either newname must not exist or it must name a directory that is empty. In the latter case, the existing directory named newname is deleted first. The name newname must not specify a subdirectory of the directory oldname which is being renamed.

One useful feature of rename is that the meaning of the name newname changes "atomically" from any previously existing file by that name to its new meaning (the file that was called oldname). There is no instant at which newname is nonexistent "in between" the old meaning and the new meaning. If there is a system crash during the operation, it is possible for both names to still exist; but newname will always be intact if it exists at all.

If rename fails, it returns -1. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EACCES
One of the directories containing newname or oldname refuses write permission; or newname and oldname are directories and write permission is refused for one of them.
EBUSY
A directory named by oldname or newname is being used by the system in a way that prevents the renaming from working. This includes directories that are mount points for filesystems, and directories that are the current working directories of processes.
ENOTEMPTY
EEXIST
The directory newname isn't empty. The GNU system always returns ENOTEMPTY for this, but some other systems return EEXIST.
EINVAL
The oldname is a directory that contains newname.
EISDIR
The newname names a directory, but the oldname doesn't.
EMLINK
The parent directory of newname would have too many links.
ENOENT
The file named by oldname doesn't exist.
ENOSPC
The directory that would contain newname has no room for another entry, and there is no space left in the file system to expand it.
EROFS
The operation would involve writing to a directory on a read-only file system.
EXDEV
The two file names newname and oldnames are on different file systems.

Creating Directories

Directories are created with the mkdir function. (There is also a shell command mkdir which does the same thing.)

Function: int mkdir (const char *filename, mode_t mode)
The mkdir function creates a new, empty directory whose name is filename.

The argument mode specifies the file permissions for the new directory file. See section The Mode Bits for Access Permission, for more information about this.

A return value of 0 indicates successful completion, and -1 indicates failure. In addition to the usual file name syntax errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EACCES
Write permission is denied for the parent directory in which the new directory is to be added.
EEXIST
A file named filename already exists.
EMLINK
The parent directory has too many links. Well-designed file systems never report this error, because they permit more links than your disk could possibly hold. However, you must still take account of the possibility of this error, as it could result from network access to a file system on another machine.
ENOSPC
The file system doesn't have enough room to create the new directory.
EROFS
The parent directory of the directory being created is on a read-only file system, and cannot be modified.

To use this function, your program should include the header file `sys/stat.h'.

File Attributes

When you issue an `ls -l' shell command on a file, it gives you information about the size of the file, who owns it, when it was last modified, and the like. This kind of information is called the file attributes; it is associated with the file itself and not a particular one of its names.

This section contains information about how you can inquire about and modify these attributes of files.

What the File Attribute Values Mean

When you read the attributes of a file, they come back in a structure called struct stat. This section describes the names of the attributes, their data types, and what they mean. For the functions to read the attributes of a file, see section Reading the Attributes of a File.

The header file `sys/stat.h' declares all the symbols defined in this section.

Data Type: struct stat
The stat structure type is used to return information about the attributes of a file. It contains at least the following members:

mode_t st_mode
Specifies the mode of the file. This includes file type information (see section Testing the Type of a File) and the file permission bits (see section The Mode Bits for Access Permission).
ino_t st_ino
The file serial number, which distinguishes this file from all other files on the same device.
dev_t st_dev
Identifies the device containing the file. The st_ino and st_dev, taken together, uniquely identify the file. The st_dev value is not necessarily consistent across reboots or system crashes, however.
nlink_t st_nlink
The number of hard links to the file. This count keeps track of how many directories have entries for this file. If the count is ever decremented to zero, then the file itself is discarded as soon as no process still holds it open. Symbolic links are not counted in the total.
uid_t st_uid
The user ID of the file's owner. See section File Owner.
gid_t st_gid
The group ID of the file. See section File Owner.
off_t st_size
This specifies the size of a regular file in bytes. For files that are really devices and the like, this field isn't usually meaningful. For symbolic links, this specifies the length of the file name the link refers to.
time_t st_atime
This is the last access time for the file. See section File Times.
unsigned long int st_atime_usec
This is the fractional part of the last access time for the file. See section File Times.
time_t st_mtime
This is the time of the last modification to the contents of the file. See section File Times.
unsigned long int st_mtime_usec
This is the fractional part of the time of last modification to the contents of the file. See section File Times.
time_t st_ctime
This is the time of the last modification to the attributes of the file. See section File Times.
unsigned long int st_ctime_usec
This is the fractional part of the time of last modification to the attributes of the file. See section File Times.
unsigned int st_blocks
This is the amount of disk space that the file occupies, measured in units of 512-byte blocks. The number of disk blocks is not strictly proportional to the size of the file, for two reasons: the file system may use some blocks for internal record keeping; and the file may be sparse--it may have "holes" which contain zeros but do not actually take up space on the disk. You can tell (approximately) whether a file is sparse by comparing this value with st_size, like this:
(st.st_blocks * 512 < st.st_size)
This test is not perfect because a file that is just slightly sparse might not be detected as sparse at all. For practical applications, this is not a problem.
unsigned int st_blksize
The optimal block size for reading of writing this file, in bytes. You might use this size for allocating the buffer space for reading of writing the file. (This is unrelated to st_blocks.)

Some of the file attributes have special data type names which exist specifically for those attributes. (They are all aliases for well-known integer types that you know and love.) These typedef names are defined in the header file `sys/types.h' as well as in `sys/stat.h'. Here is a list of them.

Data Type: mode_t
This is an integer data type used to represent file modes. In the GNU system, this is equivalent to unsigned int.

Data Type: ino_t
This is an arithmetic data type used to represent file serial numbers. (In Unix jargon, these are sometimes called inode numbers.) In the GNU system, this type is equivalent to unsigned long int.

Data Type: dev_t
This is an arithmetic data type used to represent file device numbers. In the GNU system, this is equivalent to int.

Data Type: nlink_t
This is an arithmetic data type used to represent file link counts. In the GNU system, this is equivalent to unsigned short int.

Reading the Attributes of a File

To examine the attributes of files, use the functions stat, fstat and lstat. They return the attribute information in a struct stat object. All three functions are declared in the header file `sys/stat.h'.

Function: int stat (const char *filename, struct stat *buf)
The stat function returns information about the attributes of the file named by filename in the structure pointed at by buf.

If filename is the name of a symbolic link, the attributes you get describe the file that the link points to. If the link points to a nonexistent file name, then stat fails, reporting a nonexistent file.

The return value is 0 if the operation is successful, and -1 on failure. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors, the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

ENOENT
The file named by filename doesn't exist.

Function: int fstat (int filedes, struct stat *buf)
The fstat function is like stat, except that it takes an open file descriptor as an argument instead of a file name. See section Low-Level Input/Output.

Like stat, fstat returns 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for fstat:

EBADF
The filedes argument is not a valid file descriptor.

Function: int lstat (const char *filename, struct stat *buf)
The lstat function is like stat, except that it does not follow symbolic links. If filename is the name of a symbolic link, lstat returns information about the link itself; otherwise, lstat works like stat. See section Symbolic Links.

Testing the Type of a File

The file mode, stored in the st_mode field of the file attributes, contains two kinds of information: the file type code, and the access permission bits. This section discusses only the type code, which you can use to tell whether the file is a directory, whether it is a socket, and so on. For information about the access permission, section The Mode Bits for Access Permission.

There are two predefined ways you can access the file type portion of the file mode. First of all, for each type of file, there is a predicate macro which examines a file mode value and returns true or false--is the file of that type, or not. Secondly, you can mask out the rest of the file mode to get just a file type code. You can compare this against various constants for the supported file types.

All of the symbols listed in this section are defined in the header file `sys/stat.h'.

The following predicate macros test the type of a file, given the value m which is the st_mode field returned by stat on that file:

Macro: int S_ISDIR (mode_t m)
This macro returns nonzero if the file is a directory.

Macro: int S_ISCHR (mode_t m)
This macro returns nonzero if the file is a character special file (a device like a terminal).

Macro: int S_ISBLK (mode_t m)
This macro returns nonzero if the file is a block special file (a device like a disk).

Macro: int S_ISREG (mode_t m)
This macro returns nonzero if the file is a regular file.

Macro: int S_ISFIFO (mode_t m)
This macro returns nonzero if the file is a FIFO special file, or a pipe. See section Pipes and FIFOs.

Macro: int S_ISLNK (mode_t m)
This macro returns nonzero if the file is a symbolic link. See section Symbolic Links.

Macro: int S_ISSOCK (mode_t m)
This macro returns nonzero if the file is a socket. See section Sockets.

An alterate non-POSIX method of testing the file type is supported for compatibility with BSD. The mode can be bitwise ANDed with S_IFMT to extract the file type code, and compared to the appropriate type code constant. For example,

S_ISCHR (mode)

is equivalent to:

((mode & S_IFMT) == S_IFCHR)

Macro: int S_IFMT
This is a bit mask used to extract the file type code portion of a mode value.

These are the symbolic names for the different file type codes:

S_IFDIR
This macro represents the value of the file type code for a directory file.
S_IFCHR
This macro represents the value of the file type code for a character-oriented device file.
S_IFBLK
This macro represents the value of the file type code for a block-oriented device file.
S_IFREG
This macro represents the value of the file type code for a regular file.
S_IFLNK
This macro represents the value of the file type code for a symbolic link.
S_IFSOCK
This macro represents the value of the file type code for a socket.
S_IFIFO
This macro represents the value of the file type code for a FIFO or pipe.

File Owner

Every file has an owner which is one of the registered user names defined on the system. Each file also has a group, which is one of the defined groups. The file owner can often be useful for showing you who edited the file (especially when you edit with GNU Emacs), but its main purpose is for access control.

The file owner and group play a role in determining access because the file has one set of access permission bits for the user that is the owner, another set that apply to users who belong to the file's group, and a third set of bits that apply to everyone else. See section How Your Access to a File is Decided, for the details of how access is decided based on this data.

When a file is created, its owner is set from the effective user ID of the process that creates it (see section The Persona of a Process). The file's group ID may be set from either effective group ID of the process, or the group ID of the directory that contains the file, depending on the system where the file is stored. When you access a remote file system, it behaves according to its own rule, not according to the system your program is running on. Thus, your program must be prepared to encounter either kind of behavior, no matter what kind of system you run it on.

You can change the owner and/or group owner of an existing file using the chown function. This is the primitive for the chown and chgrp shell commands.

The prototype for this function is declared in `unistd.h'.

Function: int chown (const char *filename, uid_t owner, gid_t group)
The chown function changes the owner of the file filename to owner, and its group owner to group.

Changing the owner of the file on certain systems clears the set-user-ID and set-group-ID bits of the file's permissions. (This is because those bits may not be appropriate for the new owner.) The other file permission bits are not changed.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EPERM
This process lacks permission to make the requested change. Only privileged users or the file's owner can change the file's group. On most file systems, only privileged users can change the file owner; some file systems allow you to change the owner if you are currently the owner. When you access a remote file system, the behavior you encounter is determined by the system that actually holds the file, not by the system your program is running on. See section Optional Features in File Support, for information about the _POSIX_CHOWN_RESTRICTED macro.
EROFS
The file is on a read-only file system.

Function: int fchown (int filedes, int owner, int group)
This is like chown, except that it changes the owner of the file with open file descriptor filedes.

The return value from fchown is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error codes are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes argument is not a valid file descriptor.
EINVAL
The filedes argument corresponds to a pipe or socket, not an ordinary file.
EPERM
This process lacks permission to make the requested change. For details, see chmod, above.
EROFS
The file resides on a read-only file system.

The Mode Bits for Access Permission

The file mode, stored in the st_mode field of the file attributes, contains two kinds of information: the file type code, and the access permission bits. This section discusses only the access permission bits, which control who can read or write the file. See section Testing the Type of a File, for information about the file type code.

All of the symbols listed in this section are defined in the header file `sys/stat.h'.

These symbolic constants are defined for the file mode bits that control access permission for the file:

S_IRUSR
S_IREAD
Read permission bit for the owner of the file. On many systems, this bit is 0400. S_IREAD is an obsolete synonym provided for BSD compatibility.
S_IWUSR
S_IWRITE
Write permission bit for the owner of the file. Usually 0200. S_IWRITE is an obsolete synonym provided for BSD compatibility.
S_IXUSR
S_IEXEC
Execute (for ordinary files) or search (for directories) permission bit for the owner of the file. Usually 0100. S_IEXEC is an obsolete synonym provided for BSD compatibility.
S_IRWXU
This is equivalent to `(S_IRUSR | S_IWUSR | S_IXUSR)'.
S_IRGRP
Read permission bit for the group owner of the file. Usually 040.
S_IWGRP
Write permission bit for the group owner of the file. Usually 020.
S_IXGRP
Execute or search permission bit for the group owner of the file. Usually 010.
S_IRWXG
This is equivalent to `(S_IRGRP | S_IWGRP | S_IXGRP)'.
S_IROTH
Read permission bit for other users. Usually 04.
S_IWOTH
Write permission bit for other users. Usually 02.
S_IXOTH
Execute or search permission bit for other users. Usually 01.
S_IRWXO
This is equivalent to `(S_IROTH | S_IWOTH | S_IXOTH)'.
S_ISUID
This is the set-user-ID on execute bit, usually 04000. See section How an Application Can Change Persona.
S_ISGID
This is the set-group-ID on execute bit, usually 02000. See section How an Application Can Change Persona.
S_ISVTX
This is the sticky bit, usually 01000. On a directory, it gives permission to delete a file in the directory only if you own that file. Ordinarily, a user either can delete all the files in the directory or cannot delete any of them (based on whether the user has write permission for the directory). The same restriction applies--you must both have write permission for the directory and own the file you want to delete. The one exception is that the owner of the directory can delete any file in the directory, no matter who owns it (provided the owner has given himself write permission for the directory). This is commonly used for the `/tmp' directory, where anyone may create files, but not delete files created by other users. Originally the sticky bit on an executable file modified the swapping policies of the system. Normally, when a program terminated, its pages in core were immediately freed and reused. If the sticky bit was set on the executable file, the system kept the pages in core for a while as if the program were still running. This was advantageous for a program likely to be run many times in succession. This usage is obsolete in modern systems. When a program terminates, its pages always remain in core as long as there is no shortage of memory in the system. When the program is next run, its pages will still be in core if no shortage arose since the last run. On some modern systems where the sticky bit has no useful meaning for an executable file, you cannot set the bit at all for a non-directory. If you try, chmod fails with EFTYPE; see section Assigning File Permissions. Some systems (particularly SunOS) have yet another use for the sticky bit. If the sticky bit is set on a file that is not executable, it means the opposite: never cache the pages of this file at all. The main use of this is for the files on an NFS server machine which are used as the swap area of diskless client machines. The idea is that the pages of the file will be cached in the client's memory, so it is a waste of the server's memory to cache them a second time. In this use the sticky bit also says that the filesystem may fail to record the file's modification time onto disk reliably (the idea being that noone cares for a swap file).

The actual bit values of the symbols are listed in the table above so you can decode file mode values when debugging your programs. These bit values are correct for most systems, but they are not guaranteed.

Warning: Writing explicit numbers for file permissions is bad practice. It is not only nonportable, it also requires everyone who reads your program to remember what the bits mean. To make your program clean, use the symbolic names.

How Your Access to a File is Decided

Recall that the operating system normally decides access permission for a file based on the effective user and group IDs of the process, and its supplementary group IDs, together with the file's owner, group and permission bits. These concepts are discussed in detail in section The Persona of a Process.

If the effective user ID of the process matches the owner user ID of the file, then permissions for read, write, and execute/search are controlled by the corresponding "user" (or "owner") bits. Likewise, if any of the effective group ID or supplementary group IDs of the process matches the group owner ID of the file, then permissions are controlled by the "group" bits. Otherwise, permissions are controlled by the "other" bits.

Privileged users, like `root', can access any file, regardless of its file permission bits. As a special case, for a file to be executable even for a privileged user, at least one of its execute bits must be set.

Assigning File Permissions

The primitive functions for creating files (for example, open or mkdir) take a mode argument, which specifies the file permissions for the newly created file. But the specified mode is modified by the process's file creation mask, or umask, before it is used.

The bits that are set in the file creation mask identify permissions that are always to be disabled for newly created files. For example, if you set all the "other" access bits in the mask, then newly created files are not accessible at all to processes in the "other" category, even if the mode argument specified to the creation function would permit such access. In other words, the file creation mask is the complement of the ordinary access permissions you want to grant.

Programs that create files typically specify a mode argument that includes all the permissions that make sense for the particular file. For an ordinary file, this is typically read and write permission for all classes of users. These permissions are then restricted as specified by the individual user's own file creation mask.

To change the permission of an existing file given its name, call chmod. This function ignores the file creation mask; it uses exactly the specified permission bits.

In normal use, the file creation mask is initialized in the user's login shell (using the umask shell command), and inherited by all subprocesses. Application programs normally don't need to worry about the file creation mask. It will do automatically what it is supposed to do.

When your program should create a file and bypass the umask for its access permissions, the easiest way to do this is to use fchmod after opening the file, rather than changing the umask.

In fact, changing the umask is usually done only by shells. They use the umask function.

The functions in this section are declared in `sys/stat.h'.

Function: mode_t umask (mode_t mask)
The umask function sets the file creation mask of the current process to mask, and returns the previous value of the file creation mask.

Here is an example showing how to read the mask with umask without changing it permanently:

mode_t
read_umask (void)
{
  mask = umask (0);
  umask (mask);
}

However, it is better to use getumask if you just want to read the mask value, because that is reentrant (at least if you use the GNU operating system).

Function: mode_t getumask (void)
Return the current value of the file creation mask for the current process. This function is a GNU extension.

Function: int chmod (const char *filename, mode_t mode)
The chmod function sets the access permission bits for the file named by filename to mode.

If the filename names a symbolic link, chmod changes the permission of the file pointed to by the link, not those of the link itself.

This function returns 0 if successful and -1 if not. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

ENOENT
The named file doesn't exist.
EPERM
This process does not have permission to change the access permission of this file. Only the file's owner (as judged by the effective user ID of the process) or a privileged user can change them.
EROFS
The file resides on a read-only file system.
EFTYPE
mode has the S_ISVTX bit (the "sticky bit") set, and the named file is not a directory. Some systems do not allow setting the sticky bit on non-directory files, and some do (and only some of those assign a useful meaning to the bit for non-directory files). You only get EFTYPE on systems where the sticky bit has no useful meaning for non-directory files, so it is always safe to just clear the bit in mode and call chmod again. See section The Mode Bits for Access Permission, for full details on the sticky bit.

Function: int fchmod (int filedes, int mode)
This is like chmod, except that it changes the permissions of the file currently open via descriptor filedes.

The return value from fchmod is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error codes are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes argument is not a valid file descriptor.
EINVAL
The filedes argument corresponds to a pipe or socket, or something else that doesn't really have access permissions.
EPERM
This process does not have permission to change the access permission of this file. Only the file's owner (as judged by the effective user ID of the process) or a privileged user can change them.
EROFS
The file resides on a read-only file system.

Testing Permission to Access a File

When a program runs as a privileged user, this permits it to access files off-limits to ordinary users--for example, to modify `/etc/passwd'. Programs designed to be run by ordinary users but access such files use the setuid bit feature so that they always run with root as the effective user ID.

Such a program may also access files specified by the user, files which conceptually are being accessed explicitly by the user. Since the program runs as root, it has permission to access whatever file the user specifies--but usually the desired behavior is to permit only those files which the user could ordinarily access.

The program therefore must explicitly check whether the user would have the necessary access to a file, before it reads or writes the file.

To do this, use the function access, which checks for access permission based on the process's real user ID rather than the effective user ID. (The setuid feature does not alter the real user ID, so it reflects the user who actually ran the program.)

There is another way you could check this access, which is easy to describe, but very hard to use. This is to examine the file mode bits and mimic the system's own access computation. This method is undesirable because many systems have additional access control features; your program cannot portably mimic them, and you would not want to try to keep track of the diverse features that different systems have. Using access is simple and automatically does whatever is appropriate for the system you are using.

access is only only appropriate to use in setuid programs. A non-setuid program will always use the effective ID rather than the real ID.

The symbols in this section are declared in `unistd.h'.

Function: int access (const char *filename, int how)
The access function checks to see whether the file named by filename can be accessed in the way specified by the how argument. The how argument either can be the bitwise OR of the flags R_OK, W_OK, X_OK, or the existence test F_OK.

This function uses the real user and group ID's of the calling process, rather than the effective ID's, to check for access permission. As a result, if you use the function from a setuid or setgid program (see section How an Application Can Change Persona), it gives information relative to the user who actually ran the program.

The return value is 0 if the access is permitted, and -1 otherwise. (In other words, treated as a predicate function, access returns true if the requested access is denied.)

In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EACCES
The access specified by how is denied.
ENOENT
The file doesn't exist.
EROFS
Write permission was requested for a file on a read-only file system.

These macros are defined in the header file `unistd.h' for use as the how argument to the access function. The values are integer constants.

Macro: int R_OK
Argument that means, test for read permission.

Macro: int W_OK
Argument that means, test for write permission.

Macro: int X_OK
Argument that means, test for execute/search permission.

Macro: int F_OK
Argument that means, test for existence of the file.

File Times

Each file has three timestamps associated with it: its access time, its modification time, and its attribute modification time. These correspond to the st_atime, st_mtime, and st_ctime members of the stat structure; see section File Attributes.

All of these times are represented in calendar time format, as time_t objects. This data type is defined in `time.h'. For more information about representation and manipulation of time values, see section Calendar Time.

Reading from a file updates its access time attribute, and writing updates its modification time. When a file is created, all three timestamps for that file are set to the current time. In addition, the attribute change time and modification time fields of the directory that contains the new entry are updated.

Adding a new name for a file with the link function updates the attribute change time field of the file being linked, and both the attribute change time and modification time fields of the directory containing the new name. These same fields are affected if a file name is deleted with unlink, remove, or rmdir. Renaming a file with rename affects only the attribute change time and modification time fields of the two parent directories involved, and not the times for the file being renamed.

Changing attributes of a file (for example, with chmod) updates its attribute change time field.

You can also change some of the timestamps of a file explicitly using the utime function--all except the attribute change time. You need to include the header file `utime.h' to use this facility.

Data Type: struct utimbuf
The utimbuf structure is used with the utime function to specify new access and modification times for a file. It contains the following members:

time_t actime
This is the access time for the file.
time_t modtime
This is the modification time for the file.

Function: int utime (const char *filename, const struct utimbuf *times)
This function is used to modify the file times associated with the file named filename.

If times is a null pointer, then the access and modification times of the file are set to the current time. Otherwise, they are set to the values from the actime and modtime members (respectively) of the utimbuf structure pointed at by times.

The attribute modification time for the file is set to the current time in either case (since changing the timestamps is itself a modification of the file attributes).

The utime function returns 0 if successful and -1 on failure. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EACCES
There is a permission problem in the case where a null pointer was passed as the times argument. In order to update the timestamp on the file, you must either be the owner of the file, have write permission on the file, or be a privileged user.
ENOENT
The file doesn't exist.
EPERM
If the times argument is not a null pointer, you must either be the owner of the file or be a privileged user. This error is used to report the problem.
EROFS
The file lives on a read-only file system.

Each of the three time stamps has a corresponding microsecond part, which extends its resolution. These fields are called st_atime_usec, st_mtime_usec, and st_ctime_usec; each has a value between 0 and 999,999, which indicates the time in microseconds. They correspond to the tv_usec field of a timeval structure; see section High-Resolution Calendar.

The utimes function is like utime, but also lets you specify the fractional part of the file times. The prototype for this function is in the header file `sys/time.h'.

Function: int utimes (const char *filename, struct timeval tvp[2])
This function sets the file access and modification times for the file named by filename. The new file access time is specified by tvp[0], and the new modification time by tvp[1]. This function comes from BSD.

The return values and error conditions are the same as for the utime function.

Making Special Files

The mknod function is the primitive for making special files, such as files that correspond to devices. The GNU library includes this function for compatibility with BSD.

The prototype for mknod is declared in `sys/stat.h'.

Function: int mknod (const char *filename, int mode, int dev)
The mknod function makes a special file with name filename. The mode specifies the mode of the file, and may include the various special file bits, such as S_IFCHR (for a character special file) or S_IFBLK (for a block special file). See section Testing the Type of a File.

The dev argument specifies which device the special file refers to. Its exact interpretation depends on the kind of special file being created.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on error. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EPERM
The calling process is not privileged. Only the superuser can create special files.
ENOSPC
The directory or file system that would contain the new file is full and cannot be extended.
EROFS
The directory containing the new file can't be modified because it's on a read-only file system.
EEXIST
There is already a file named filename. If you want to replace this file, you must remove the old file explicitly first.

Temporary Files

If you need to use a temporary file in your program, you can use the tmpfile function to open it. Or you can use the tmpnam (better: tmpnam_r) function make a name for a temporary file and then open it in the usual way with fopen.

The tempnam function is like tmpnam but lets you choose what directory temporary files will go in, and something about what their file names will look like. Important for multi threaded programs is that tempnam is reentrant while tmpnam is not since it returns a pointer to a static buffer.

These facilities are declared in the header file `stdio.h'.

Function: FILE * tmpfile (void)
This function creates a temporary binary file for update mode, as if by calling fopen with mode "wb+". The file is deleted automatically when it is closed or when the program terminates. (On some other ISO C systems the file may fail to be deleted if the program terminates abnormally).

This function is reentrant.

Function: char * tmpnam (char *result)
This function constructs and returns a file name that is a valid file name and that does not name any existing file. If the result argument is a null pointer, the return value is a pointer to an internal static string, which might be modified by subsequent calls and therefore makes this function non-reentrant. Otherwise, the result argument should be a pointer to an array of at least L_tmpnam characters, and the result is written into that array.

It is possible for tmpnam to fail if you call it too many times without removing previously created files. This is because the fixed length of a temporary file name gives room for only a finite number of different names. If tmpnam fails, it returns a null pointer.

Function: char * tmpnam_r (char *result)
This function is nearly identical to the tmpnam function. But it does not allow result to be a null pointer. In the later case a null pointer is returned.

This function is reentrant because the non-reentrant situation of tmpnam cannot happen here.

Macro: int L_tmpnam
The value of this macro is an integer constant expression that represents the minimum allocation size of a string large enough to hold the file name generated by the tmpnam function.

Macro: int TMP_MAX
The macro TMP_MAX is a lower bound for how many temporary names you can create with tmpnam. You can rely on being able to call tmpnam at least this many times before it might fail saying you have made too many temporary file names.

With the GNU library, you can create a very large number of temporary file names--if you actually create the files, you will probably run out of disk space before you run out of names. Some other systems have a fixed, small limit on the number of temporary files. The limit is never less than 25.

Function: char * tempnam (const char *dir, const char *prefix)
This function generates a unique temporary filename. If prefix is not a null pointer, up to five characters of this string are used as a prefix for the file name. The return value is a string newly allocated with malloc; you should release its storage with free when it is no longer needed.

Because the string is dynamically allocated this function is reentrant.

The directory prefix for the temporary file name is determined by testing each of the following, in sequence. The directory must exist and be writable.

  • The environment variable TMPDIR, if it is defined. For security reasons this only happens if the program is not SUID or SGID enabled.
  • The dir argument, if it is not a null pointer.
  • The value of the P_tmpdir macro.
  • The directory `/tmp'.

This function is defined for SVID compatibility.

SVID Macro: char * P_tmpdir
This macro is the name of the default directory for temporary files.

Older Unix systems did not have the functions just described. Instead they used mktemp and mkstemp. Both of these functions work by modifying a file name template string you pass. The last six characters of this string must be `XXXXXX'. These six `X's are replaced with six characters which make the whole string a unique file name. Usually the template string is something like `/tmp/prefixXXXXXX', and each program uses a unique prefix.

Note: Because mktemp and mkstemp modify the template string, you must not pass string constants to them. String constants are normally in read-only storage, so your program would crash when mktemp or mkstemp tried to modify the string.

Function: char * mktemp (char *template)
The mktemp function generates a unique file name by modifying template as described above. If successful, it returns template as modified. If mktemp cannot find a unique file name, it makes template an empty string and returns that. If template does not end with `XXXXXX', mktemp returns a null pointer.

Function: int mkstemp (char *template)
The mkstemp function generates a unique file name just as mktemp does, but it also opens the file for you with open (see section Opening and Closing Files). If successful, it modifies template in place and returns a file descriptor open on that file for reading and writing. If mkstemp cannot create a uniquely-named file, it makes template an empty string and returns -1. If template does not end with `XXXXXX', mkstemp returns -1 and does not modify template.

Unlike mktemp, mkstemp is actually guaranteed to create a unique file that cannot possibly clash with any other program trying to create a temporary file. This is because it works by calling open with the O_EXCL flag bit, which says you want to always create a new file, and get an error if the file already exists.

Pipes and FIFOs

A pipe is a mechanism for interprocess communication; data written to the pipe by one process can be read by another process. The data is handled in a first-in, first-out (FIFO) order. The pipe has no name; it is created for one use and both ends must be inherited from the single process which created the pipe.

A FIFO special file is similar to a pipe, but instead of being an anonymous, temporary connection, a FIFO has a name or names like any other file. Processes open the FIFO by name in order to communicate through it.

A pipe or FIFO has to be open at both ends simultaneously. If you read from a pipe or FIFO file that doesn't have any processes writing to it (perhaps because they have all closed the file, or exited), the read returns end-of-file. Writing to a pipe or FIFO that doesn't have a reading process is treated as an error condition; it generates a SIGPIPE signal, and fails with error code EPIPE if the signal is handled or blocked.

Neither pipes nor FIFO special files allow file positioning. Both reading and writing operations happen sequentially; reading from the beginning of the file and writing at the end.

Creating a Pipe

The primitive for creating a pipe is the pipe function. This creates both the reading and writing ends of the pipe. It is not very useful for a single process to use a pipe to talk to itself. In typical use, a process creates a pipe just before it forks one or more child processes (see section Creating a Process). The pipe is then used for communication either between the parent or child processes, or between two sibling processes.

The pipe function is declared in the header file `unistd.h'.

Function: int pipe (int filedes[2])
The pipe function creates a pipe and puts the file descriptors for the reading and writing ends of the pipe (respectively) into filedes[0] and filedes[1].

An easy way to remember that the input end comes first is that file descriptor 0 is standard input, and file descriptor 1 is standard output.

If successful, pipe returns a value of 0. On failure, -1 is returned. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EMFILE
The process has too many files open.
ENFILE
There are too many open files in the entire system. See section Error Codes, for more information about ENFILE. This error never occurs in the GNU system.

Here is an example of a simple program that creates a pipe. This program uses the fork function (see section Creating a Process) to create a child process. The parent process writes data to the pipe, which is read by the child process.

#include <sys/types.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

/* Read characters from the pipe and echo them to stdout. */

void 
read_from_pipe (int file)
{
  FILE *stream;
  int c;
  stream = fdopen (file, "r");
  while ((c = fgetc (stream)) != EOF)
    putchar (c);
  fclose (stream);
}

/* Write some random text to the pipe. */

void 
write_to_pipe (int file)
{
  FILE *stream;
  stream = fdopen (file, "w");
  fprintf (stream, "hello, world!\n");
  fprintf (stream, "goodbye, world!\n");
  fclose (stream);
}

int
main (void)
{
  pid_t pid;
  int mypipe[2];

  /* Create the pipe. */
  if (pipe (mypipe))
    {
      fprintf (stderr, "Pipe failed.\n");
      return EXIT_FAILURE;
    }

  /* Create the child process. */
  pid = fork ();
  if (pid == (pid_t) 0)
    {
      /* This is the child process. */
      read_from_pipe (mypipe[0]);
      return EXIT_SUCCESS;
    }
  else if (pid < (pid_t) 0)
    {
      /* The fork failed. */
      fprintf (stderr, "Fork failed.\n");
      return EXIT_FAILURE;
    }
  else
    {
      /* This is the parent process. */
      write_to_pipe (mypipe[1]);
      return EXIT_SUCCESS;
    }
}

Pipe to a Subprocess

A common use of pipes is to send data to or receive data from a program being run as subprocess. One way of doing this is by using a combination of pipe (to create the pipe), fork (to create the subprocess), dup2 (to force the subprocess to use the pipe as its standard input or output channel), and exec (to execute the new program). Or, you can use popen and pclose.

The advantage of using popen and pclose is that the interface is much simpler and easier to use. But it doesn't offer as much flexibility as using the low-level functions directly.

Function: FILE * popen (const char *command, const char *mode)
The popen function is closely related to the system function; see section Running a Command. It executes the shell command command as a subprocess. However, instead of waiting for the command to complete, it creates a pipe to the subprocess and returns a stream that corresponds to that pipe.

If you specify a mode argument of "r", you can read from the stream to retrieve data from the standard output channel of the subprocess. The subprocess inherits its standard input channel from the parent process.

Similarly, if you specify a mode argument of "w", you can write to the stream to send data to the standard input channel of the subprocess. The subprocess inherits its standard output channel from the parent process.

In the event of an error, popen returns a null pointer. This might happen if the pipe or stream cannot be created, if the subprocess cannot be forked, or if the program cannot be executed.

Function: int pclose (FILE *stream)
The pclose function is used to close a stream created by popen. It waits for the child process to terminate and returns its status value, as for the system function.

Here is an example showing how to use popen and pclose to filter output through another program, in this case the paging program more.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

void 
write_data (FILE * stream)
{
  int i;
  for (i = 0; i < 100; i++)
    fprintf (stream, "%d\n", i);
  if (ferror (stream))
    {
      fprintf (stderr, "Output to stream failed.\n");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
}

int
main (void)
{
  FILE *output;

  output = popen ("more", "w");
  if (!output)
    {
      fprintf (stderr, "Could not run more.\n");
      return EXIT_FAILURE;
    }
  write_data (output);
  pclose (output);
  return EXIT_SUCCESS;
}

FIFO Special Files

A FIFO special file is similar to a pipe, except that it is created in a different way. Instead of being an anonymous communications channel, a FIFO special file is entered into the file system by calling mkfifo.

Once you have created a FIFO special file in this way, any process can open it for reading or writing, in the same way as an ordinary file. However, it has to be open at both ends simultaneously before you can proceed to do any input or output operations on it. Opening a FIFO for reading normally blocks until some other process opens the same FIFO for writing, and vice versa.

The mkfifo function is declared in the header file `sys/stat.h'.

Function: int mkfifo (const char *filename, mode_t mode)
The mkfifo function makes a FIFO special file with name filename. The mode argument is used to set the file's permissions; see section Assigning File Permissions.

The normal, successful return value from mkfifo is 0. In the case of an error, -1 is returned. In addition to the usual file name errors (see section File Name Errors), the following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EEXIST
The named file already exists.
ENOSPC
The directory or file system cannot be extended.
EROFS
The directory that would contain the file resides on a read-only file system.

Atomicity of Pipe I/O

Reading or writing pipe data is atomic if the size of data written is not greater than PIPE_BUF. This means that the data transfer seems to be an instantaneous unit, in that nothing else in the system can observe a state in which it is partially complete. Atomic I/O may not begin right away (it may need to wait for buffer space or for data), but once it does begin, it finishes immediately.

Reading or writing a larger amount of data may not be atomic; for example, output data from other processes sharing the descriptor may be interspersed. Also, once PIPE_BUF characters have been written, further writes will block until some characters are read.

See section Limits on File System Capacity, for information about the PIPE_BUF parameter.

Sockets

This chapter describes the GNU facilities for interprocess communication using sockets.

A socket is a generalized interprocess communication channel. Like a pipe, a socket is represented as a file descriptor. But, unlike pipes, sockets support communication between unrelated processes, and even between processes running on different machines that communicate over a network. Sockets are the primary means of communicating with other machines; telnet, rlogin, ftp, talk, and the other familiar network programs use sockets.

Not all operating systems support sockets. In the GNU library, the header file `sys/socket.h' exists regardless of the operating system, and the socket functions always exist, but if the system does not really support sockets, these functions always fail.

Incomplete: We do not currently document the facilities for broadcast messages or for configuring Internet interfaces.

Socket Concepts

When you create a socket, you must specify the style of communication you want to use and the type of protocol that should implement it. The communication style of a socket defines the user-level semantics of sending and receiving data on the socket. Choosing a communication style specifies the answers to questions such as these:

You must also choose a namespace for naming the socket. A socket name ("address") is meaningful only in the context of a particular namespace. In fact, even the data type to use for a socket name may depend on the namespace. Namespaces are also called "domains", but we avoid that word as it can be confused with other usage of the same term. Each namespace has a symbolic name that starts with `PF_'. A corresponding symbolic name starting with `AF_' designates the address format for that namespace.

Finally you must choose the protocol to carry out the communication. The protocol determines what low-level mechanism is used to transmit and receive data. Each protocol is valid for a particular namespace and communication style; a namespace is sometimes called a protocol family because of this, which is why the namespace names start with `PF_'.

The rules of a protocol apply to the data passing between two programs, perhaps on different computers; most of these rules are handled by the operating system, and you need not know about them. What you do need to know about protocols is this:

Throughout the following description at various places variables/parameters to denote sizes are required. And here the trouble starts. In the first implementations the type of these variables was simply int. This type was on almost all machines of this time 32 bits wide and so a de-factor standard required 32 bit variables. This is important since references to variables of this type are passed to the kernel.

But now the POSIX people came and unified the interface with their words "all size values are of type size_t". But on 64 bit machines size_t is 64 bits wide and so variable references are not anymore possible.

A solution provides the Unix98 specification which finally introduces a type socklen_t. This type is used in all of the cases in previously changed to use size_t. The only requirement of this type is that it is an unsigned type of at least 32 bits. Therefore, implementations which require references to 32 bit variables be passed can be as happy as implementations which right from the start of 64 bit values.

Communication Styles

The GNU library includes support for several different kinds of sockets, each with different characteristics. This section describes the supported socket types. The symbolic constants listed here are defined in `sys/socket.h'.

Macro: int SOCK_STREAM
The SOCK_STREAM style is like a pipe (see section Pipes and FIFOs); it operates over a connection with a particular remote socket, and transmits data reliably as a stream of bytes.

Use of this style is covered in detail in section Using Sockets with Connections.

Macro: int SOCK_DGRAM
The SOCK_DGRAM style is used for sending individually-addressed packets, unreliably. It is the diametrical opposite of SOCK_STREAM.

Each time you write data to a socket of this kind, that data becomes one packet. Since SOCK_DGRAM sockets do not have connections, you must specify the recipient address with each packet.

The only guarantee that the system makes about your requests to transmit data is that it will try its best to deliver each packet you send. It may succeed with the sixth packet after failing with the fourth and fifth packets; the seventh packet may arrive before the sixth, and may arrive a second time after the sixth.

The typical use for SOCK_DGRAM is in situations where it is acceptable to simply resend a packet if no response is seen in a reasonable amount of time.

See section Datagram Socket Operations, for detailed information about how to use datagram sockets.

Macro: int SOCK_RAW
This style provides access to low-level network protocols and interfaces. Ordinary user programs usually have no need to use this style.

Socket Addresses

The name of a socket is normally called an address. The functions and symbols for dealing with socket addresses were named inconsistently, sometimes using the term "name" and sometimes using "address". You can regard these terms as synonymous where sockets are concerned.

A socket newly created with the socket function has no address. Other processes can find it for communication only if you give it an address. We call this binding the address to the socket, and the way to do it is with the bind function.

You need be concerned with the address of a socket if other processes are to find it and start communicating with it. You can specify an address for other sockets, but this is usually pointless; the first time you send data from a socket, or use it to initiate a connection, the system assigns an address automatically if you have not specified one.

Occasionally a client needs to specify an address because the server discriminates based on addresses; for example, the rsh and rlogin protocols look at the client's socket address and don't bypass password checking unless it is less than IPPORT_RESERVED (see section Internet Ports).

The details of socket addresses vary depending on what namespace you are using. See section The File Namespace, or section The Internet Namespace, for specific information.

Regardless of the namespace, you use the same functions bind and getsockname to set and examine a socket's address. These functions use a phony data type, struct sockaddr *, to accept the address. In practice, the address lives in a structure of some other data type appropriate to the address format you are using, but you cast its address to struct sockaddr * when you pass it to bind.

Address Formats

The functions bind and getsockname use the generic data type struct sockaddr * to represent a pointer to a socket address. You can't use this data type effectively to interpret an address or construct one; for that, you must use the proper data type for the socket's namespace.

Thus, the usual practice is to construct an address in the proper namespace-specific type, then cast a pointer to struct sockaddr * when you call bind or getsockname.

The one piece of information that you can get from the struct sockaddr data type is the address format designator which tells you which data type to use to understand the address fully.

The symbols in this section are defined in the header file `sys/socket.h'.

Date Type: struct sockaddr
The struct sockaddr type itself has the following members:

short int sa_family
This is the code for the address format of this address. It identifies the format of the data which follows.
char sa_data[14]
This is the actual socket address data, which is format-dependent. Its length also depends on the format, and may well be more than 14. The length 14 of sa_data is essentially arbitrary.

Each address format has a symbolic name which starts with `AF_'. Each of them corresponds to a `PF_' symbol which designates the corresponding namespace. Here is a list of address format names:

AF_FILE
This designates the address format that goes with the file namespace. (PF_FILE is the name of that namespace.) See section Details of File Namespace, for information about this address format.
AF_UNIX
This is a synonym for AF_FILE, for compatibility. (PF_UNIX is likewise a synonym for PF_FILE.)
AF_INET
This designates the address format that goes with the Internet namespace. (PF_INET is the name of that namespace.) See section Internet Socket Address Formats.
AF_INET6
This is similar to AF_INET, but refers to the IPv6 protocol. (PF_INET6 is the name of the corresponding namespace.)
AF_UNSPEC
This designates no particular address format. It is used only in rare cases, such as to clear out the default destination address of a "connected" datagram socket. See section Sending Datagrams. The corresponding namespace designator symbol PF_UNSPEC exists for completeness, but there is no reason to use it in a program.

`sys/socket.h' defines symbols starting with `AF_' for many different kinds of networks, all or most of which are not actually implemented. We will document those that really work, as we receive information about how to use them.

Setting the Address of a Socket

Use the bind function to assign an address to a socket. The prototype for bind is in the header file `sys/socket.h'. For examples of use, see section The File Namespace, or see section Internet Socket Example.

Function: int bind (int socket, struct sockaddr *addr, socklen_t length)
The bind function assigns an address to the socket socket. The addr and length arguments specify the address; the detailed format of the address depends on the namespace. The first part of the address is always the format designator, which specifies a namespace, and says that the address is in the format for that namespace.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The socket argument is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
The descriptor socket is not a socket.
EADDRNOTAVAIL
The specified address is not available on this machine.
EADDRINUSE
Some other socket is already using the specified address.
EINVAL
The socket socket already has an address.
EACCES
You do not have permission to access the requested address. (In the Internet domain, only the super-user is allowed to specify a port number in the range 0 through IPPORT_RESERVED minus one; see section Internet Ports.)

Additional conditions may be possible depending on the particular namespace of the socket.

Reading the Address of a Socket

Use the function getsockname to examine the address of an Internet socket. The prototype for this function is in the header file `sys/socket.h'.

Function: int getsockname (int socket, struct sockaddr *addr, socklen_t *length-ptr)
The getsockname function returns information about the address of the socket socket in the locations specified by the addr and length-ptr arguments. Note that the length-ptr is a pointer; you should initialize it to be the allocation size of addr, and on return it contains the actual size of the address data.

The format of the address data depends on the socket namespace. The length of the information is usually fixed for a given namespace, so normally you can know exactly how much space is needed and can provide that much. The usual practice is to allocate a place for the value using the proper data type for the socket's namespace, then cast its address to struct sockaddr * to pass it to getsockname.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on error. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The socket argument is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
The descriptor socket is not a socket.
ENOBUFS
There are not enough internal buffers available for the operation.

You can't read the address of a socket in the file namespace. This is consistent with the rest of the system; in general, there's no way to find a file's name from a descriptor for that file.

The File Namespace

This section describes the details of the file namespace, whose symbolic name (required when you create a socket) is PF_FILE.

File Namespace Concepts

In the file namespace, socket addresses are file names. You can specify any file name you want as the address of the socket, but you must have write permission on the directory containing it. In order to connect to a socket, you must have read permission for it. It's common to put these files in the `/tmp' directory.

One peculiarity of the file namespace is that the name is only used when opening the connection; once that is over with, the address is not meaningful and may not exist.

Another peculiarity is that you cannot connect to such a socket from another machine--not even if the other machine shares the file system which contains the name of the socket. You can see the socket in a directory listing, but connecting to it never succeeds. Some programs take advantage of this, such as by asking the client to send its own process ID, and using the process IDs to distinguish between clients. However, we recommend you not use this method in protocols you design, as we might someday permit connections from other machines that mount the same file systems. Instead, send each new client an identifying number if you want it to have one.

After you close a socket in the file namespace, you should delete the file name from the file system. Use unlink or remove to do this; see section Deleting Files.

The file namespace supports just one protocol for any communication style; it is protocol number 0.

Details of File Namespace

To create a socket in the file namespace, use the constant PF_FILE as the namespace argument to socket or socketpair. This constant is defined in `sys/socket.h'.

Macro: int PF_FILE
This designates the file namespace, in which socket addresses are file names, and its associated family of protocols.

Macro: int PF_UNIX
This is a synonym for PF_FILE, for compatibility's sake.

The structure for specifying socket names in the file namespace is defined in the header file `sys/un.h':

Data Type: struct sockaddr_un
This structure is used to specify file namespace socket addresses. It has the following members:

short int sun_family
This identifies the address family or format of the socket address. You should store the value AF_FILE to designate the file namespace. See section Socket Addresses.
char sun_path[108]
This is the file name to use. Incomplete: Why is 108 a magic number? RMS suggests making this a zero-length array and tweaking the example following to use alloca to allocate an appropriate amount of storage based on the length of the filename.

You should compute the length parameter for a socket address in the file namespace as the sum of the size of the sun_family component and the string length (not the allocation size!) of the file name string.

Example of File-Namespace Sockets

Here is an example showing how to create and name a socket in the file namespace.

#include <stddef.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/un.h>

int 
make_named_socket (const char *filename)
{
  struct sockaddr_un name;
  int sock;
  size_t size;

  /* Create the socket. */
  
  sock = socket (PF_UNIX, SOCK_DGRAM, 0);
  if (sock < 0)
    {
      perror ("socket");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  /* Bind a name to the socket. */

  name.sun_family = AF_FILE;
  strcpy (name.sun_path, filename);

  /* The size of the address is
     the offset of the start of the filename,
     plus its length,
     plus one for the terminating null byte. */
  size = (offsetof (struct sockaddr_un, sun_path)
          + strlen (name.sun_path) + 1);

  if (bind (sock, (struct sockaddr *) &name, size) < 0)
    {
      perror ("bind");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  return sock;
}

The Internet Namespace

This section describes the details the protocols and socket naming conventions used in the Internet namespace.

To create a socket in the Internet namespace, use the symbolic name PF_INET of this namespace as the namespace argument to socket or socketpair. This macro is defined in `sys/socket.h'.

Macro: int PF_INET
This designates the Internet namespace and associated family of protocols.

A socket address for the Internet namespace includes the following components:

You must ensure that the address and port number are represented in a canonical format called network byte order. See section Byte Order Conversion, for information about this.

Internet Socket Address Formats

In the Internet namespace, for both IPv4 (AF_INET) and IPv6 (AF_INET6), a socket address consists of a host address and a port on that host. In addition, the protocol you choose serves effectively as a part of the address because local port numbers are meaningful only within a particular protocol.

The data types for representing socket addresses in the Internet namespace are defined in the header file `netinet/in.h'.

Data Type: struct sockaddr_in
This is the data type used to represent socket addresses in the Internet namespace. It has the following members:

short int sin_family
This identifies the address family or format of the socket address. You should store the value of AF_INET in this member. See section Socket Addresses.
struct in_addr sin_addr
This is the Internet address of the host machine. See section Host Addresses, and section Host Names, for how to get a value to store here.
unsigned short int sin_port
This is the port number. See section Internet Ports.

When you call bind or getsockname, you should specify sizeof (struct sockaddr_in) as the length parameter if you are using an Internet namespace socket address.

Data Type: struct sockaddr_in6
This is the data type used to represent socket addresses in the IPv6 namespace. It has the following members:

short int sin6_family
This identifies the address family or format of the socket address. You should store the value of AF_INET6 in this member. See section Socket Addresses.
struct in6_addr sin6_addr
This is the IPv6 address of the host machine. See section Host Addresses, and section Host Names, for how to get a value to store here.
uint32_t sin6_flowinfo
This is a currently unimplemented field.
uint16_t sin6_port
This is the port number. See section Internet Ports.

Host Addresses

Each computer on the Internet has one or more Internet addresses, numbers which identify that computer among all those on the Internet. Users typically write IPv4 numeric host addresses as sequences of four numbers, separated by periods, as in `128.52.46.32', and IPv6 numeric host addresses as sequences of up to eight numbers seperated by colons, as in `5f03:1200:836f:c100::1'.

Each computer also has one or more host names, which are strings of words separated by periods, as in `churchy.gnu.ai.mit.edu'.

Programs that let the user specify a host typically accept both numeric addresses and host names. But the program needs a numeric address to open a connection; to use a host name, you must convert it to the numeric address it stands for.

Internet Host Addresses

An Internet host address is a number containing four bytes of data. These are divided into two parts, a network number and a local network address number within that network. The network number consists of the first one, two or three bytes; the rest of the bytes are the local address.

Network numbers are registered with the Network Information Center (NIC), and are divided into three classes--A, B, and C. The local network address numbers of individual machines are registered with the administrator of the particular network.

Class A networks have single-byte numbers in the range 0 to 127. There are only a small number of Class A networks, but they can each support a very large number of hosts. Medium-sized Class B networks have two-byte network numbers, with the first byte in the range 128 to 191. Class C networks are the smallest; they have three-byte network numbers, with the first byte in the range 192-255. Thus, the first 1, 2, or 3 bytes of an Internet address specifies a network. The remaining bytes of the Internet address specify the address within that network.

The Class A network 0 is reserved for broadcast to all networks. In addition, the host number 0 within each network is reserved for broadcast to all hosts in that network.

The Class A network 127 is reserved for loopback; you can always use the Internet address `127.0.0.1' to refer to the host machine.

Since a single machine can be a member of multiple networks, it can have multiple Internet host addresses. However, there is never supposed to be more than one machine with the same host address.

There are four forms of the standard numbers-and-dots notation for Internet addresses:

a.b.c.d
This specifies all four bytes of the address individually.
a.b.c
The last part of the address, c, is interpreted as a 2-byte quantity. This is useful for specifying host addresses in a Class B network with network address number a.b.
a.b
The last part of the address, c, is interpreted as a 3-byte quantity. This is useful for specifying host addresses in a Class A network with network address number a.
a
If only one part is given, this corresponds directly to the host address number.

Within each part of the address, the usual C conventions for specifying the radix apply. In other words, a leading `0x' or `0X' implies hexadecimal radix; a leading `0' implies octal; and otherwise decimal radix is assumed.

Host Address Data Type

Internet host addresses are represented in some contexts as integers (type unsigned long int). In other contexts, the integer is packaged inside a structure of type struct in_addr. It would be better if the usage were made consistent, but it is not hard to extract the integer from the structure or put the integer into a structure.

The following basic definitions for Internet addresses appear in the header file `netinet/in.h':

Data Type: struct in_addr
This data type is used in certain contexts to contain an Internet host address. It has just one field, named s_addr, which records the host address number as an unsigned long int.

Macro: unsigned int INADDR_LOOPBACK
You can use this constant to stand for "the address of this machine," instead of finding its actual address. It is the Internet address `127.0.0.1', which is usually called `localhost'. This special constant saves you the trouble of looking up the address of your own machine. Also, the system usually implements INADDR_LOOPBACK specially, avoiding any network traffic for the case of one machine talking to itself.

Macro: unsigned int INADDR_ANY
You can use this constant to stand for "any incoming address," when binding to an address. See section Setting the Address of a Socket. This is the usual address to give in the sin_addr member of struct sockaddr_in when you want to accept Internet connections.

Macro: unsigned int INADDR_BROADCAST
This constant is the address you use to send a broadcast message.

Macro: unsigned int INADDR_NONE
This constant is returned by some functions to indicate an error.

Data Type: struct in6_addr
This data type is used to store an IPv6 address. It stores 128 bits of data, which can be accessed (via a union) in a variety of ways.

Constant: struct in6_addr in6addr_loopback.
This constant is the IPv6 address `::1', the loopback address. See above for a description of what this means. The macro IN6ADDR_LOOPBACK_INIT is provided to allow you to initialise your own variables to this value.

Constant: struct in6_addr in6addr_any
This constant is the IPv6 address `::', the unspecified address. See above for a description of what this means. The macro IN6ADDR_ANY_INIT is provided to allow you to initialise your own variables to this value.

Host Address Functions

These additional functions for manipulating Internet addresses are declared in `arpa/inet.h'. They represent Internet addresses in network byte order; they represent network numbers and local-address-within-network numbers in host byte order. See section Byte Order Conversion, for an explanation of network and host byte order.

Function: int inet_aton (const char *name, struct in_addr *addr)
This function converts the Internet host address name from the standard numbers-and-dots notation into binary data and stores it in the struct in_addr that addr points to. inet_aton returns nonzero if the address is valid, zero if not.

Function: unsigned long int inet_addr (const char *name)
This function converts the Internet host address name from the standard numbers-and-dots notation into binary data. If the input is not valid, inet_addr returns INADDR_NONE. This is an obsolete interface to inet_aton, described immediately above; it is obsolete because INADDR_NONE is a valid address (255.255.255.255), and inet_aton provides a cleaner way to indicate error return.

Function: unsigned long int inet_network (const char *name)
This function extracts the network number from the address name, given in the standard numbers-and-dots notation. If the input is not valid, inet_network returns -1.

Function: char * inet_ntoa (struct in_addr addr)
This function converts the Internet host address addr to a string in the standard numbers-and-dots notation. The return value is a pointer into a statically-allocated buffer. Subsequent calls will overwrite the same buffer, so you should copy the string if you need to save it.

In multi-threaded programs each thread has an own statically-allocated buffer. But still subsequent calls of inet_ntoa in the same thread will overwrite the result of the last call.

Function: struct in_addr inet_makeaddr (int net, int local)
This function makes an Internet host address by combining the network number net with the local-address-within-network number local.

Function: int inet_lnaof (struct in_addr addr)
This function returns the local-address-within-network part of the Internet host address addr.

Function: int inet_netof (struct in_addr addr)
This function returns the network number part of the Internet host address addr.

Function: int inet_pton (int af, const char *cp, void *buf)
This function converts an Internet address (either IPv4 or IPv6) from presentation (textual) to network (binary) format. af should be either AF_INET or AF_INET6, as appropriate for the type of address being converted. cp is a pointer to the input string, and buf is a pointer to a buffer for the result. It is the caller's responsibility to make sure the buffer is large enough.

Function: char * inet_ntop (int af, const void *cp, char *buf, size_t len)
This function converts an Internet address (either IPv4 or IPv6) from network (binary) to presentation (textual) form. af should be either AF_INET or AF_INET6, as appropriate. cp is a pointer to the address to be converted. buf should be a pointer to a buffer to hold the result, and len is the length of this buffer. The return value from the function will be this buffer address.

Host Names

Besides the standard numbers-and-dots notation for Internet addresses, you can also refer to a host by a symbolic name. The advantage of a symbolic name is that it is usually easier to remember. For example, the machine with Internet address `128.52.46.32' is also known as `churchy.gnu.ai.mit.edu'; and other machines in the `gnu.ai.mit.edu' domain can refer to it simply as `churchy'.

Internally, the system uses a database to keep track of the mapping between host names and host numbers. This database is usually either the file `/etc/hosts' or an equivalent provided by a name server. The functions and other symbols for accessing this database are declared in `netdb.h'. They are BSD features, defined unconditionally if you include `netdb.h'.

Data Type: struct hostent
This data type is used to represent an entry in the hosts database. It has the following members:

char *h_name
This is the "official" name of the host.
char **h_aliases
These are alternative names for the host, represented as a null-terminated vector of strings.
int h_addrtype
This is the host address type; in practice, its value is always either AF_INET or AF_INET6, with the latter being used for IPv6 hosts. In principle other kinds of addresses could be represented in the data base as well as Internet addresses; if this were done, you might find a value in this field other than AF_INET or AF_INET6. See section Socket Addresses.
int h_length
This is the length, in bytes, of each address.
char **h_addr_list
This is the vector of addresses for the host. (Recall that the host might be connected to multiple networks and have different addresses on each one.) The vector is terminated by a null pointer.
char *h_addr
This is a synonym for h_addr_list[0]; in other words, it is the first host address.

As far as the host database is concerned, each address is just a block of memory h_length bytes long. But in other contexts there is an implicit assumption that you can convert this to a struct in_addr or an unsigned long int. Host addresses in a struct hostent structure are always given in network byte order; see section Byte Order Conversion.

You can use gethostbyname, gethostbyname2 or gethostbyaddr to search the hosts database for information about a particular host. The information is returned in a statically-allocated structure; you must copy the information if you need to save it across calls. You can also use getaddrinfo and getnameinfo to obtain this information.

Function: struct hostent * gethostbyname (const char *name)
The gethostbyname function returns information about the host named name. If the lookup fails, it returns a null pointer.

Function: struct hostent * gethostbyname2 (const char *name, int af)
The gethostbyname2 function is like gethostbyname, but allows the caller to specify the desired address family (e.g. AF_INET or AF_INET6) for the result.

Function: struct hostent * gethostbyaddr (const char *addr, int length, int format)
The gethostbyaddr function returns information about the host with Internet address addr. The length argument is the size (in bytes) of the address at addr. format specifies the address format; for an Internet address, specify a value of AF_INET.

If the lookup fails, gethostbyaddr returns a null pointer.

If the name lookup by gethostbyname or gethostbyaddr fails, you can find out the reason by looking at the value of the variable h_errno. (It would be cleaner design for these functions to set errno, but use of h_errno is compatible with other systems.) Before using h_errno, you must declare it like this:

extern int h_errno;

Here are the error codes that you may find in h_errno:

HOST_NOT_FOUND
No such host is known in the data base.
TRY_AGAIN
This condition happens when the name server could not be contacted. If you try again later, you may succeed then.
NO_RECOVERY
A non-recoverable error occurred.
NO_ADDRESS
The host database contains an entry for the name, but it doesn't have an associated Internet address.

You can also scan the entire hosts database one entry at a time using sethostent, gethostent, and endhostent. Be careful in using these functions, because they are not reentrant.

Function: void sethostent (int stayopen)
This function opens the hosts database to begin scanning it. You can then call gethostent to read the entries.

If the stayopen argument is nonzero, this sets a flag so that subsequent calls to gethostbyname or gethostbyaddr will not close the database (as they usually would). This makes for more efficiency if you call those functions several times, by avoiding reopening the database for each call.

Function: struct hostent * gethostent ()
This function returns the next entry in the hosts database. It returns a null pointer if there are no more entries.

Function: void endhostent ()
This function closes the hosts database.

Internet Ports

A socket address in the Internet namespace consists of a machine's Internet address plus a port number which distinguishes the sockets on a given machine (for a given protocol). Port numbers range from 0 to 65,535.

Port numbers less than IPPORT_RESERVED are reserved for standard servers, such as finger and telnet. There is a database that keeps track of these, and you can use the getservbyname function to map a service name onto a port number; see section The Services Database.

If you write a server that is not one of the standard ones defined in the database, you must choose a port number for it. Use a number greater than IPPORT_USERRESERVED; such numbers are reserved for servers and won't ever be generated automatically by the system. Avoiding conflicts with servers being run by other users is up to you.

When you use a socket without specifying its address, the system generates a port number for it. This number is between IPPORT_RESERVED and IPPORT_USERRESERVED.

On the Internet, it is actually legitimate to have two different sockets with the same port number, as long as they never both try to communicate with the same socket address (host address plus port number). You shouldn't duplicate a port number except in special circumstances where a higher-level protocol requires it. Normally, the system won't let you do it; bind normally insists on distinct port numbers. To reuse a port number, you must set the socket option SO_REUSEADDR. See section Socket-Level Options.

These macros are defined in the header file `netinet/in.h'.

Macro: int IPPORT_RESERVED
Port numbers less than IPPORT_RESERVED are reserved for superuser use.

Macro: int IPPORT_USERRESERVED
Port numbers greater than or equal to IPPORT_USERRESERVED are reserved for explicit use; they will never be allocated automatically.

The Services Database

The database that keeps track of "well-known" services is usually either the file `/etc/services' or an equivalent from a name server. You can use these utilities, declared in `netdb.h', to access the services database.

Data Type: struct servent
This data type holds information about entries from the services database. It has the following members:

char *s_name
This is the "official" name of the service.
char **s_aliases
These are alternate names for the service, represented as an array of strings. A null pointer terminates the array.
int s_port
This is the port number for the service. Port numbers are given in network byte order; see section Byte Order Conversion.
char *s_proto
This is the name of the protocol to use with this service. See section Protocols Database.

To get information about a particular service, use the getservbyname or getservbyport functions. The information is returned in a statically-allocated structure; you must copy the information if you need to save it across calls.

Function: struct servent * getservbyname (const char *name, const char *proto)
The getservbyname function returns information about the service named name using protocol proto. If it can't find such a service, it returns a null pointer.

This function is useful for servers as well as for clients; servers use it to determine which port they should listen on (see section Listening for Connections).

Function: struct servent * getservbyport (int port, const char *proto)
The getservbyport function returns information about the service at port port using protocol proto. If it can't find such a service, it returns a null pointer.

You can also scan the services database using setservent, getservent, and endservent. Be careful in using these functions, because they are not reentrant.

Function: void setservent (int stayopen)
This function opens the services database to begin scanning it.

If the stayopen argument is nonzero, this sets a flag so that subsequent calls to getservbyname or getservbyport will not close the database (as they usually would). This makes for more efficiency if you call those functions several times, by avoiding reopening the database for each call.

Function: struct servent * getservent (void)
This function returns the next entry in the services database. If there are no more entries, it returns a null pointer.

Function: void endservent (void)
This function closes the services database.

Byte Order Conversion

Different kinds of computers use different conventions for the ordering of bytes within a word. Some computers put the most significant byte within a word first (this is called "big-endian" order), and others put it last ("little-endian" order).

So that machines with different byte order conventions can communicate, the Internet protocols specify a canonical byte order convention for data transmitted over the network. This is known as the network byte order.

When establishing an Internet socket connection, you must make sure that the data in the sin_port and sin_addr members of the sockaddr_in structure are represented in the network byte order. If you are encoding integer data in the messages sent through the socket, you should convert this to network byte order too. If you don't do this, your program may fail when running on or talking to other kinds of machines.

If you use getservbyname and gethostbyname or inet_addr to get the port number and host address, the values are already in the network byte order, and you can copy them directly into the sockaddr_in structure.

Otherwise, you have to convert the values explicitly. Use htons and ntohs to convert values for the sin_port member. Use htonl and ntohl to convert values for the sin_addr member. (Remember, struct in_addr is equivalent to unsigned long int.) These functions are declared in `netinet/in.h'.

Function: unsigned short int htons (unsigned short int hostshort)
This function converts the short integer hostshort from host byte order to network byte order.

Function: unsigned short int ntohs (unsigned short int netshort)
This function converts the short integer netshort from network byte order to host byte order.

Function: unsigned long int htonl (unsigned long int hostlong)
This function converts the long integer hostlong from host byte order to network byte order.

Function: unsigned long int ntohl (unsigned long int netlong)
This function converts the long integer netlong from network byte order to host byte order.

Protocols Database

The communications protocol used with a socket controls low-level details of how data is exchanged. For example, the protocol implements things like checksums to detect errors in transmissions, and routing instructions for messages. Normal user programs have little reason to mess with these details directly.

The default communications protocol for the Internet namespace depends on the communication style. For stream communication, the default is TCP ("transmission control protocol"). For datagram communication, the default is UDP ("user datagram protocol"). For reliable datagram communication, the default is RDP ("reliable datagram protocol"). You should nearly always use the default.

Internet protocols are generally specified by a name instead of a number. The network protocols that a host knows about are stored in a database. This is usually either derived from the file `/etc/protocols', or it may be an equivalent provided by a name server. You look up the protocol number associated with a named protocol in the database using the getprotobyname function.

Here are detailed descriptions of the utilities for accessing the protocols database. These are declared in `netdb.h'.

Data Type: struct protoent
This data type is used to represent entries in the network protocols database. It has the following members:

char *p_name
This is the official name of the protocol.
char **p_aliases
These are alternate names for the protocol, specified as an array of strings. The last element of the array is a null pointer.
int p_proto
This is the protocol number (in host byte order); use this member as the protocol argument to socket.

You can use getprotobyname and getprotobynumber to search the protocols database for a specific protocol. The information is returned in a statically-allocated structure; you must copy the information if you need to save it across calls.

Function: struct protoent * getprotobyname (const char *name)
The getprotobyname function returns information about the network protocol named name. If there is no such protocol, it returns a null pointer.

Function: struct protoent * getprotobynumber (int protocol)
The getprotobynumber function returns information about the network protocol with number protocol. If there is no such protocol, it returns a null pointer.

You can also scan the whole protocols database one protocol at a time by using setprotoent, getprotoent, and endprotoent. Be careful in using these functions, because they are not reentrant.

Function: void setprotoent (int stayopen)
This function opens the protocols database to begin scanning it.

If the stayopen argument is nonzero, this sets a flag so that subsequent calls to getprotobyname or getprotobynumber will not close the database (as they usually would). This makes for more efficiency if you call those functions several times, by avoiding reopening the database for each call.

Function: struct protoent * getprotoent (void)
This function returns the next entry in the protocols database. It returns a null pointer if there are no more entries.

Function: void endprotoent (void)
This function closes the protocols database.

Internet Socket Example

Here is an example showing how to create and name a socket in the Internet namespace. The newly created socket exists on the machine that the program is running on. Rather than finding and using the machine's Internet address, this example specifies INADDR_ANY as the host address; the system replaces that with the machine's actual address.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>

int 
make_socket (unsigned short int port)
{
  int sock;
  struct sockaddr_in name;

  /* Create the socket. */
  sock = socket (PF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, 0);
  if (sock < 0)
    {
      perror ("socket");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  /* Give the socket a name. */
  name.sin_family = AF_INET;
  name.sin_port = htons (port);
  name.sin_addr.s_addr = htonl (INADDR_ANY);
  if (bind (sock, (struct sockaddr *) &name, sizeof (name)) < 0)
    {
      perror ("bind");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  return sock;
}

Here is another example, showing how you can fill in a sockaddr_in structure, given a host name string and a port number:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <netdb.h>

void 
init_sockaddr (struct sockaddr_in *name,
               const char *hostname,
               unsigned short int port)
{
  struct hostent *hostinfo;

  name->sin_family = AF_INET;
  name->sin_port = htons (port);
  hostinfo = gethostbyname (hostname);
  if (hostinfo == NULL) 
    {
      fprintf (stderr, "Unknown host %s.\n", hostname);
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
  name->sin_addr = *(struct in_addr *) hostinfo->h_addr;
}

Other Namespaces

Certain other namespaces and associated protocol families are supported but not documented yet because they are not often used. PF_NS refers to the Xerox Network Software protocols. PF_ISO stands for Open Systems Interconnect. PF_CCITT refers to protocols from CCITT. `socket.h' defines these symbols and others naming protocols not actually implemented.

PF_IMPLINK is used for communicating between hosts and Internet Message Processors. For information on this, and on PF_ROUTE, an occasionally-used local area routing protocol, see the GNU Hurd Manual (to appear in the future).

Opening and Closing Sockets

This section describes the actual library functions for opening and closing sockets. The same functions work for all namespaces and connection styles.

Creating a Socket

The primitive for creating a socket is the socket function, declared in `sys/socket.h'.

Function: int socket (int namespace, int style, int protocol)
This function creates a socket and specifies communication style style, which should be one of the socket styles listed in section Communication Styles. The namespace argument specifies the namespace; it must be PF_FILE (see section The File Namespace) or PF_INET (see section The Internet Namespace). protocol designates the specific protocol (see section Socket Concepts); zero is usually right for protocol.

The return value from socket is the file descriptor for the new socket, or -1 in case of error. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EPROTONOSUPPORT
The protocol or style is not supported by the namespace specified.
EMFILE
The process already has too many file descriptors open.
ENFILE
The system already has too many file descriptors open.
EACCESS
The process does not have privilege to create a socket of the specified style or protocol.
ENOBUFS
The system ran out of internal buffer space.

The file descriptor returned by the socket function supports both read and write operations. But, like pipes, sockets do not support file positioning operations.

For examples of how to call the socket function, see section The File Namespace, or section Internet Socket Example.

Closing a Socket

When you are finished using a socket, you can simply close its file descriptor with close; see section Opening and Closing Files. If there is still data waiting to be transmitted over the connection, normally close tries to complete this transmission. You can control this behavior using the SO_LINGER socket option to specify a timeout period; see section Socket Options.

You can also shut down only reception or only transmission on a connection by calling shutdown, which is declared in `sys/socket.h'.

Function: int shutdown (int socket, int how)
The shutdown function shuts down the connection of socket socket. The argument how specifies what action to perform:

0
Stop receiving data for this socket. If further data arrives, reject it.
1
Stop trying to transmit data from this socket. Discard any data waiting to be sent. Stop looking for acknowledgement of data already sent; don't retransmit it if it is lost.
2
Stop both reception and transmission.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
socket is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
socket is not a socket.
ENOTCONN
socket is not connected.

Socket Pairs

A socket pair consists of a pair of connected (but unnamed) sockets. It is very similar to a pipe and is used in much the same way. Socket pairs are created with the socketpair function, declared in `sys/socket.h'. A socket pair is much like a pipe; the main difference is that the socket pair is bidirectional, whereas the pipe has one input-only end and one output-only end (see section Pipes and FIFOs).

Function: int socketpair (int namespace, int style, int protocol, int filedes[2])
This function creates a socket pair, returning the file descriptors in filedes[0] and filedes[1]. The socket pair is a full-duplex communications channel, so that both reading and writing may be performed at either end.

The namespace, style, and protocol arguments are interpreted as for the socket function. style should be one of the communication styles listed in section Communication Styles. The namespace argument specifies the namespace, which must be AF_FILE (see section The File Namespace); protocol specifies the communications protocol, but zero is the only meaningful value.

If style specifies a connectionless communication style, then the two sockets you get are not connected, strictly speaking, but each of them knows the other as the default destination address, so they can send packets to each other.

The socketpair function returns 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EMFILE
The process has too many file descriptors open.
EAFNOSUPPORT
The specified namespace is not supported.
EPROTONOSUPPORT
The specified protocol is not supported.
EOPNOTSUPP
The specified protocol does not support the creation of socket pairs.

Using Sockets with Connections

The most common communication styles involve making a connection to a particular other socket, and then exchanging data with that socket over and over. Making a connection is asymmetric; one side (the client) acts to request a connection, while the other side (the server) makes a socket and waits for the connection request.

Making a Connection

In making a connection, the client makes a connection while the server waits for and accepts the connection. Here we discuss what the client program must do, using the connect function, which is declared in `sys/socket.h'.

Function: int connect (int socket, struct sockaddr *addr, socklen_t length)
The connect function initiates a connection from the socket with file descriptor socket to the socket whose address is specified by the addr and length arguments. (This socket is typically on another machine, and it must be already set up as a server.) See section Socket Addresses, for information about how these arguments are interpreted.

Normally, connect waits until the server responds to the request before it returns. You can set nonblocking mode on the socket socket to make connect return immediately without waiting for the response. See section File Status Flags, for information about nonblocking mode.

The normal return value from connect is 0. If an error occurs, connect returns -1. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The socket socket is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
File descriptor socket is not a socket.
EADDRNOTAVAIL
The specified address is not available on the remote machine.
EAFNOSUPPORT
The namespace of the addr is not supported by this socket.
EISCONN
The socket socket is already connected.
ETIMEDOUT
The attempt to establish the connection timed out.
ECONNREFUSED
The server has actively refused to establish the connection.
ENETUNREACH
The network of the given addr isn't reachable from this host.
EADDRINUSE
The socket address of the given addr is already in use.
EINPROGRESS
The socket socket is non-blocking and the connection could not be established immediately. You can determine when the connection is completely established with select; see section Waiting for Input or Output. Another connect call on the same socket, before the connection is completely established, will fail with EALREADY.
EALREADY
The socket socket is non-blocking and already has a pending connection in progress (see EINPROGRESS above).

Listening for Connections

Now let us consider what the server process must do to accept connections on a socket. First it must use the listen function to enable connection requests on the socket, and then accept each incoming connection with a call to accept (see section Accepting Connections). Once connection requests are enabled on a server socket, the select function reports when the socket has a connection ready to be accepted (see section Waiting for Input or Output).

The listen function is not allowed for sockets using connectionless communication styles.

You can write a network server that does not even start running until a connection to it is requested. See section inetd Servers.

In the Internet namespace, there are no special protection mechanisms for controlling access to connect to a port; any process on any machine can make a connection to your server. If you want to restrict access to your server, make it examine the addresses associated with connection requests or implement some other handshaking or identification protocol.

In the File namespace, the ordinary file protection bits control who has access to connect to the socket.

Function: int listen (int socket, unsigned int n)
The listen function enables the socket socket to accept connections, thus making it a server socket.

The argument n specifies the length of the queue for pending connections. When the queue fills, new clients attempting to connect fail with ECONNREFUSED until the server calls accept to accept a connection from the queue.

The listen function returns 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The argument socket is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
The argument socket is not a socket.
EOPNOTSUPP
The socket socket does not support this operation.

Accepting Connections

When a server receives a connection request, it can complete the connection by accepting the request. Use the function accept to do this.

A socket that has been established as a server can accept connection requests from multiple clients. The server's original socket does not become part of the connection; instead, accept makes a new socket which participates in the connection. accept returns the descriptor for this socket. The server's original socket remains available for listening for further connection requests.

The number of pending connection requests on a server socket is finite. If connection requests arrive from clients faster than the server can act upon them, the queue can fill up and additional requests are refused with a ECONNREFUSED error. You can specify the maximum length of this queue as an argument to the listen function, although the system may also impose its own internal limit on the length of this queue.

Function: int accept (int socket, struct sockaddr *addr, socklen_t *length-ptr)
This function is used to accept a connection request on the server socket socket.

The accept function waits if there are no connections pending, unless the socket socket has nonblocking mode set. (You can use select to wait for a pending connection, with a nonblocking socket.) See section File Status Flags, for information about nonblocking mode.

The addr and length-ptr arguments are used to return information about the name of the client socket that initiated the connection. See section Socket Addresses, for information about the format of the information.

Accepting a connection does not make socket part of the connection. Instead, it creates a new socket which becomes connected. The normal return value of accept is the file descriptor for the new socket.

After accept, the original socket socket remains open and unconnected, and continues listening until you close it. You can accept further connections with socket by calling accept again.

If an error occurs, accept returns -1. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The socket argument is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
The descriptor socket argument is not a socket.
EOPNOTSUPP
The descriptor socket does not support this operation.
EWOULDBLOCK
socket has nonblocking mode set, and there are no pending connections immediately available.

The accept function is not allowed for sockets using connectionless communication styles.

Who is Connected to Me?

Function: int getpeername (int socket, struct sockaddr *addr, size_t *length-ptr)
The getpeername function returns the address of the socket that socket is connected to; it stores the address in the memory space specified by addr and length-ptr. It stores the length of the address in *length-ptr.

See section Socket Addresses, for information about the format of the address. In some operating systems, getpeername works only for sockets in the Internet domain.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on error. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The argument socket is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
The descriptor socket is not a socket.
ENOTCONN
The socket socket is not connected.
ENOBUFS
There are not enough internal buffers available.

Transferring Data

Once a socket has been connected to a peer, you can use the ordinary read and write operations (see section Input and Output Primitives) to transfer data. A socket is a two-way communications channel, so read and write operations can be performed at either end.

There are also some I/O modes that are specific to socket operations. In order to specify these modes, you must use the recv and send functions instead of the more generic read and write functions. The recv and send functions take an additional argument which you can use to specify various flags to control the special I/O modes. For example, you can specify the MSG_OOB flag to read or write out-of-band data, the MSG_PEEK flag to peek at input, or the MSG_DONTROUTE flag to control inclusion of routing information on output.

Sending Data

The send function is declared in the header file `sys/socket.h'. If your flags argument is zero, you can just as well use write instead of send; see section Input and Output Primitives. If the socket was connected but the connection has broken, you get a SIGPIPE signal for any use of send or write (see section Miscellaneous Signals).

Function: int send (int socket, void *buffer, size_t size, int flags)
The send function is like write, but with the additional flags flags. The possible values of flags are described in section Socket Data Options.

This function returns the number of bytes transmitted, or -1 on failure. If the socket is nonblocking, then send (like write) can return after sending just part of the data. See section File Status Flags, for information about nonblocking mode.

Note, however, that a successful return value merely indicates that the message has been sent without error, not necessarily that it has been received without error.

The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The socket argument is not a valid file descriptor.
EINTR
The operation was interrupted by a signal before any data was sent. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.
ENOTSOCK
The descriptor socket is not a socket.
EMSGSIZE
The socket type requires that the message be sent atomically, but the message is too large for this to be possible.
EWOULDBLOCK
Nonblocking mode has been set on the socket, and the write operation would block. (Normally send blocks until the operation can be completed.)
ENOBUFS
There is not enough internal buffer space available.
ENOTCONN
You never connected this socket.
EPIPE
This socket was connected but the connection is now broken. In this case, send generates a SIGPIPE signal first; if that signal is ignored or blocked, or if its handler returns, then send fails with EPIPE.

Receiving Data

The recv function is declared in the header file `sys/socket.h'. If your flags argument is zero, you can just as well use read instead of recv; see section Input and Output Primitives.

Function: int recv (int socket, void *buffer, size_t size, int flags)
The recv function is like read, but with the additional flags flags. The possible values of flags are described In section Socket Data Options.

If nonblocking mode is set for socket, and no data is available to be read, recv fails immediately rather than waiting. See section File Status Flags, for information about nonblocking mode.

This function returns the number of bytes received, or -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The socket argument is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
The descriptor socket is not a socket.
EWOULDBLOCK
Nonblocking mode has been set on the socket, and the read operation would block. (Normally, recv blocks until there is input available to be read.)
EINTR
The operation was interrupted by a signal before any data was read. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.
ENOTCONN
You never connected this socket.

Socket Data Options

The flags argument to send and recv is a bit mask. You can bitwise-OR the values of the following macros together to obtain a value for this argument. All are defined in the header file `sys/socket.h'.

Macro: int MSG_OOB
Send or receive out-of-band data. See section Out-of-Band Data.

Macro: int MSG_PEEK
Look at the data but don't remove it from the input queue. This is only meaningful with input functions such as recv, not with send.

Macro: int MSG_DONTROUTE
Don't include routing information in the message. This is only meaningful with output operations, and is usually only of interest for diagnostic or routing programs. We don't try to explain it here.

Byte Stream Socket Example

Here is an example client program that makes a connection for a byte stream socket in the Internet namespace. It doesn't do anything particularly interesting once it has connected to the server; it just sends a text string to the server and exits.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <netdb.h>

#define PORT            5555
#define MESSAGE         "Yow!!! Are we having fun yet?!?"
#define SERVERHOST      "churchy.gnu.ai.mit.edu"

void 
write_to_server (int filedes)
{
  int nbytes;

  nbytes = write (filedes, MESSAGE, strlen (MESSAGE) + 1);
  if (nbytes < 0)
    {
      perror ("write");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
}

int
main (void)
{
  extern void init_sockaddr (struct sockaddr_in *name,
                             const char *hostname,
                             unsigned short int port);
  int sock;
  struct sockaddr_in servername;

  /* Create the socket. */
  sock = socket (PF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, 0);
  if (sock < 0)
    {
      perror ("socket (client)");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  /* Connect to the server. */
  init_sockaddr (&servername, SERVERHOST, PORT);
  if (0 > connect (sock,
                   (struct sockaddr *) &servername,
                   sizeof (servername)))
    {
      perror ("connect (client)");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  /* Send data to the server. */
  write_to_server (sock);
  close (sock);
  exit (EXIT_SUCCESS);
}

Byte Stream Connection Server Example

The server end is much more complicated. Since we want to allow multiple clients to be connected to the server at the same time, it would be incorrect to wait for input from a single client by simply calling read or recv. Instead, the right thing to do is to use select (see section Waiting for Input or Output) to wait for input on all of the open sockets. This also allows the server to deal with additional connection requests.

This particular server doesn't do anything interesting once it has gotten a message from a client. It does close the socket for that client when it detects an end-of-file condition (resulting from the client shutting down its end of the connection).

This program uses make_socket and init_sockaddr to set up the socket address; see section Internet Socket Example.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <netdb.h>

#define PORT    5555
#define MAXMSG  512

int
read_from_client (int filedes)
{
  char buffer[MAXMSG];
  int nbytes;

  nbytes = read (filedes, buffer, MAXMSG);
  if (nbytes < 0)
    {
      /* Read error. */
      perror ("read");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
  else if (nbytes == 0)
    /* End-of-file. */
    return -1;
  else
    {
      /* Data read. */
      fprintf (stderr, "Server: got message: `%s'\n", buffer);
      return 0;
    }
}

int
main (void)
{
  extern int make_socket (unsigned short int port);
  int sock;
  fd_set active_fd_set, read_fd_set;
  int i;
  struct sockaddr_in clientname;
  size_t size;

  /* Create the socket and set it up to accept connections. */
  sock = make_socket (PORT);
  if (listen (sock, 1) < 0)
    {
      perror ("listen");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  /* Initialize the set of active sockets. */
  FD_ZERO (&active_fd_set);
  FD_SET (sock, &active_fd_set);

  while (1)
    {
      /* Block until input arrives on one or more active sockets. */
      read_fd_set = active_fd_set;
      if (select (FD_SETSIZE, &read_fd_set, NULL, NULL, NULL) < 0)
        {
          perror ("select");
          exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
        }

      /* Service all the sockets with input pending. */
      for (i = 0; i < FD_SETSIZE; ++i)
        if (FD_ISSET (i, &read_fd_set))
          {
            if (i == sock)
              {
                /* Connection request on original socket. */
                int new;
                size = sizeof (clientname);
                new = accept (sock,
                              (struct sockaddr *) &clientname,
                              &size);
                if (new < 0)
                  {
                    perror ("accept");
                    exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
                  }
                fprintf (stderr,
                         "Server: connect from host %s, port %hd.\n",
                         inet_ntoa (clientname.sin_addr),
                         ntohs (clientname.sin_port));
                FD_SET (new, &active_fd_set);
              }
            else
              {
                /* Data arriving on an already-connected socket. */
                if (read_from_client (i) < 0)
                  {
                    close (i);
                    FD_CLR (i, &active_fd_set);
                  }
              }
          }
    }
}

Out-of-Band Data

Streams with connections permit out-of-band data that is delivered with higher priority than ordinary data. Typically the reason for sending out-of-band data is to send notice of an exceptional condition. The way to send out-of-band data is using send, specifying the flag MSG_OOB (see section Sending Data).

Out-of-band data is received with higher priority because the receiving process need not read it in sequence; to read the next available out-of-band data, use recv with the MSG_OOB flag (see section Receiving Data). Ordinary read operations do not read out-of-band data; they read only the ordinary data.

When a socket finds that out-of-band data is on its way, it sends a SIGURG signal to the owner process or process group of the socket. You can specify the owner using the F_SETOWN command to the fcntl function; see section Interrupt-Driven Input. You must also establish a handler for this signal, as described in section Signal Handling, in order to take appropriate action such as reading the out-of-band data.

Alternatively, you can test for pending out-of-band data, or wait until there is out-of-band data, using the select function; it can wait for an exceptional condition on the socket. See section Waiting for Input or Output, for more information about select.

Notification of out-of-band data (whether with SIGURG or with select) indicates that out-of-band data is on the way; the data may not actually arrive until later. If you try to read the out-of-band data before it arrives, recv fails with an EWOULDBLOCK error.

Sending out-of-band data automatically places a "mark" in the stream of ordinary data, showing where in the sequence the out-of-band data "would have been". This is useful when the meaning of out-of-band data is "cancel everything sent so far". Here is how you can test, in the receiving process, whether any ordinary data was sent before the mark:

success = ioctl (socket, SIOCATMARK, &result);

Here's a function to discard any ordinary data preceding the out-of-band mark:

int
discard_until_mark (int socket)
{
  while (1)
    {
      /* This is not an arbitrary limit; any size will do.  */
      char buffer[1024];
      int result, success;

      /* If we have reached the mark, return.  */
      success = ioctl (socket, SIOCATMARK, &result);
      if (success < 0)
        perror ("ioctl");
      if (result)
        return;

      /* Otherwise, read a bunch of ordinary data and discard it.
         This is guaranteed not to read past the mark
         if it starts before the mark.  */
      success = read (socket, buffer, sizeof buffer);
      if (success < 0)
        perror ("read");
    }
}

If you don't want to discard the ordinary data preceding the mark, you may need to read some of it anyway, to make room in internal system buffers for the out-of-band data. If you try to read out-of-band data and get an EWOULDBLOCK error, try reading some ordinary data (saving it so that you can use it when you want it) and see if that makes room. Here is an example:

struct buffer
{
  char *buffer;
  int size;
  struct buffer *next;
};

/* Read the out-of-band data from SOCKET and return it
   as a `struct buffer', which records the address of the data
   and its size.

   It may be necessary to read some ordinary data
   in order to make room for the out-of-band data.
   If so, the ordinary data is saved as a chain of buffers
   found in the `next' field of the value.  */

struct buffer *
read_oob (int socket)
{
  struct buffer *tail = 0;
  struct buffer *list = 0;

  while (1)
    {
      /* This is an arbitrary limit.
         Does anyone know how to do this without a limit?  */
      char *buffer = (char *) xmalloc (1024);
      struct buffer *link;
      int success;
      int result;

      /* Try again to read the out-of-band data.  */
      success = recv (socket, buffer, sizeof buffer, MSG_OOB);
      if (success >= 0)
        {
          /* We got it, so return it.  */
          struct buffer *link
            = (struct buffer *) xmalloc (sizeof (struct buffer));
          link->buffer = buffer;
          link->size = success;
          link->next = list;
          return link;
        }

      /* If we fail, see if we are at the mark.  */
      success = ioctl (socket, SIOCATMARK, &result);
      if (success < 0)
        perror ("ioctl");
      if (result)
        {
          /* At the mark; skipping past more ordinary data cannot help.
             So just wait a while.  */
          sleep (1);
          continue;
        }

      /* Otherwise, read a bunch of ordinary data and save it.
         This is guaranteed not to read past the mark
         if it starts before the mark.  */
      success = read (socket, buffer, sizeof buffer);
      if (success < 0)
        perror ("read");

      /* Save this data in the buffer list.  */
      {
        struct buffer *link
          = (struct buffer *) xmalloc (sizeof (struct buffer));
        link->buffer = buffer;
        link->size = success;

        /* Add the new link to the end of the list.  */
        if (tail)
          tail->next = link;
        else
          list = link;
        tail = link;
      }
    }
}

Datagram Socket Operations

This section describes how to use communication styles that don't use connections (styles SOCK_DGRAM and SOCK_RDM). Using these styles, you group data into packets and each packet is an independent communication. You specify the destination for each packet individually.

Datagram packets are like letters: you send each one independently, with its own destination address, and they may arrive in the wrong order or not at all.

The listen and accept functions are not allowed for sockets using connectionless communication styles.

Sending Datagrams

The normal way of sending data on a datagram socket is by using the sendto function, declared in `sys/socket.h'.

You can call connect on a datagram socket, but this only specifies a default destination for further data transmission on the socket. When a socket has a default destination, then you can use send (see section Sending Data) or even write (see section Input and Output Primitives) to send a packet there. You can cancel the default destination by calling connect using an address format of AF_UNSPEC in the addr argument. See section Making a Connection, for more information about the connect function.

Function: int sendto (int socket, void *buffer. size_t size, int flags, struct sockaddr *addr, socklen_t length)
The sendto function transmits the data in the buffer through the socket socket to the destination address specified by the addr and length arguments. The size argument specifies the number of bytes to be transmitted.

The flags are interpreted the same way as for send; see section Socket Data Options.

The return value and error conditions are also the same as for send, but you cannot rely on the system to detect errors and report them; the most common error is that the packet is lost or there is no one at the specified address to receive it, and the operating system on your machine usually does not know this.

It is also possible for one call to sendto to report an error due to a problem related to a previous call.

Receiving Datagrams

The recvfrom function reads a packet from a datagram socket and also tells you where it was sent from. This function is declared in `sys/socket.h'.

Function: int recvfrom (int socket, void *buffer, size_t size, int flags, struct sockaddr *addr, socklen_t *length-ptr)
The recvfrom function reads one packet from the socket socket into the buffer buffer. The size argument specifies the maximum number of bytes to be read.

If the packet is longer than size bytes, then you get the first size bytes of the packet, and the rest of the packet is lost. There's no way to read the rest of the packet. Thus, when you use a packet protocol, you must always know how long a packet to expect.

The addr and length-ptr arguments are used to return the address where the packet came from. See section Socket Addresses. For a socket in the file domain, the address information won't be meaningful, since you can't read the address of such a socket (see section The File Namespace). You can specify a null pointer as the addr argument if you are not interested in this information.

The flags are interpreted the same way as for recv (see section Socket Data Options). The return value and error conditions are also the same as for recv.

You can use plain recv (see section Receiving Data) instead of recvfrom if you know don't need to find out who sent the packet (either because you know where it should come from or because you treat all possible senders alike). Even read can be used if you don't want to specify flags (see section Input and Output Primitives).

Datagram Socket Example

Here is a set of example programs that send messages over a datagram stream in the file namespace. Both the client and server programs use the make_named_socket function that was presented in section The File Namespace, to create and name their sockets.

First, here is the server program. It sits in a loop waiting for messages to arrive, bouncing each message back to the sender. Obviously, this isn't a particularly useful program, but it does show the general ideas involved.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/un.h>

#define SERVER  "/tmp/serversocket"
#define MAXMSG  512

int
main (void)
{
  int sock;
  char message[MAXMSG];
  struct sockaddr_un name;
  size_t size;
  int nbytes;

  /* Make the socket, then loop endlessly. */

  sock = make_named_socket (SERVER);
  while (1)
    {
      /* Wait for a datagram. */
      size = sizeof (name);
      nbytes = recvfrom (sock, message, MAXMSG, 0,
                         (struct sockaddr *) & name, &size);
      if (nbytes < 0)
        {
          perror ("recfrom (server)");
          exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
        }

      /* Give a diagnostic message. */
      fprintf (stderr, "Server: got message: %s\n", message);

      /* Bounce the message back to the sender. */
      nbytes = sendto (sock, message, nbytes, 0,
                       (struct sockaddr *) & name, size);
      if (nbytes < 0)
        {
          perror ("sendto (server)");
          exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
        }
    }
}

Example of Reading Datagrams

Here is the client program corresponding to the server above.

It sends a datagram to the server and then waits for a reply. Notice that the socket for the client (as well as for the server) in this example has to be given a name. This is so that the server can direct a message back to the client. Since the socket has no associated connection state, the only way the server can do this is by referencing the name of the client.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/un.h>

#define SERVER  "/tmp/serversocket"
#define CLIENT  "/tmp/mysocket"
#define MAXMSG  512
#define MESSAGE "Yow!!! Are we having fun yet?!?"

int
main (void)
{
  extern int make_named_socket (const char *name);
  int sock;
  char message[MAXMSG];
  struct sockaddr_un name;
  size_t size;
  int nbytes;

  /* Make the socket. */
  sock = make_named_socket (CLIENT);

  /* Initialize the server socket address. */
  name.sun_family = AF_UNIX;
  strcpy (name.sun_path, SERVER);
  size = strlen (name.sun_path) + sizeof (name.sun_family);

  /* Send the datagram. */
  nbytes = sendto (sock, MESSAGE, strlen (MESSAGE) + 1, 0,
                   (struct sockaddr *) & name, size);
  if (nbytes < 0)
    {
      perror ("sendto (client)");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  /* Wait for a reply. */
  nbytes = recvfrom (sock, message, MAXMSG, 0, NULL, 0);
  if (nbytes < 0)
    {
      perror ("recfrom (client)");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  /* Print a diagnostic message. */
  fprintf (stderr, "Client: got message: %s\n", message);

  /* Clean up. */
  remove (CLIENT);
  close (sock);
}

Keep in mind that datagram socket communications are unreliable. In this example, the client program waits indefinitely if the message never reaches the server or if the server's response never comes back. It's up to the user running the program to kill it and restart it, if desired. A more automatic solution could be to use select (see section Waiting for Input or Output) to establish a timeout period for the reply, and in case of timeout either resend the message or shut down the socket and exit.

The inetd Daemon

We've explained above how to write a server program that does its own listening. Such a server must already be running in order for anyone to connect to it.

Another way to provide service for an Internet port is to let the daemon program inetd do the listening. inetd is a program that runs all the time and waits (using select) for messages on a specified set of ports. When it receives a message, it accepts the connection (if the socket style calls for connections) and then forks a child process to run the corresponding server program. You specify the ports and their programs in the file `/etc/inetd.conf'.

inetd Servers

Writing a server program to be run by inetd is very simple. Each time someone requests a connection to the appropriate port, a new server process starts. The connection already exists at this time; the socket is available as the standard input descriptor and as the standard output descriptor (descriptors 0 and 1) in the server process. So the server program can begin reading and writing data right away. Often the program needs only the ordinary I/O facilities; in fact, a general-purpose filter program that knows nothing about sockets can work as a byte stream server run by inetd.

You can also use inetd for servers that use connectionless communication styles. For these servers, inetd does not try to accept a connection, since no connection is possible. It just starts the server program, which can read the incoming datagram packet from descriptor 0. The server program can handle one request and then exit, or you can choose to write it to keep reading more requests until no more arrive, and then exit. You must specify which of these two techniques the server uses, when you configure inetd.

Configuring inetd

The file `/etc/inetd.conf' tells inetd which ports to listen to and what server programs to run for them. Normally each entry in the file is one line, but you can split it onto multiple lines provided all but the first line of the entry start with whitespace. Lines that start with `#' are comments.

Here are two standard entries in `/etc/inetd.conf':

ftp	stream	tcp	nowait	root	/libexec/ftpd	ftpd
talk	dgram	udp	wait	root	/libexec/talkd	talkd

An entry has this format:

service style protocol wait username program arguments

The service field says which service this program provides. It should be the name of a service defined in `/etc/services'. inetd uses service to decide which port to listen on for this entry.

The fields style and protocol specify the communication style and the protocol to use for the listening socket. The style should be the name of a communication style, converted to lower case and with `SOCK_' deleted--for example, `stream' or `dgram'. protocol should be one of the protocols listed in `/etc/protocols'. The typical protocol names are `tcp' for byte stream connections and `udp' for unreliable datagrams.

The wait field should be either `wait' or `nowait'. Use `wait' if style is a connectionless style and the server, once started, handles multiple requests, as many as come in. Use `nowait' if inetd should start a new process for each message or request that comes in. If style uses connections, then wait must be `nowait'.

user is the user name that the server should run as. inetd runs as root, so it can set the user ID of its children arbitrarily. It's best to avoid using `root' for user if you can; but some servers, such as Telnet and FTP, read a username and password themselves. These servers need to be root initially so they can log in as commanded by the data coming over the network.

program together with arguments specifies the command to run to start the server. program should be an absolute file name specifying the executable file to run. arguments consists of any number of whitespace-separated words, which become the command-line arguments of program. The first word in arguments is argument zero, which should by convention be the program name itself (sans directories).

If you edit `/etc/inetd.conf', you can tell inetd to reread the file and obey its new contents by sending the inetd process the SIGHUP signal. You'll have to use ps to determine the process ID of the inetd process, as it is not fixed.

Socket Options

This section describes how to read or set various options that modify the behavior of sockets and their underlying communications protocols.

When you are manipulating a socket option, you must specify which level the option pertains to. This describes whether the option applies to the socket interface, or to a lower-level communications protocol interface.

Socket Option Functions

Here are the functions for examining and modifying socket options. They are declared in `sys/socket.h'.

Function: int getsockopt (int socket, int level, int optname, void *optval, socklen_t *optlen-ptr)
The getsockopt function gets information about the value of option optname at level level for socket socket.

The option value is stored in a buffer that optval points to. Before the call, you should supply in *optlen-ptr the size of this buffer; on return, it contains the number of bytes of information actually stored in the buffer.

Most options interpret the optval buffer as a single int value.

The actual return value of getsockopt is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined:

EBADF
The socket argument is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTSOCK
The descriptor socket is not a socket.
ENOPROTOOPT
The optname doesn't make sense for the given level.

Function: int setsockopt (int socket, int level, int optname, void *optval, socklen_t optlen)
This function is used to set the socket option optname at level level for socket socket. The value of the option is passed in the buffer optval, which has size optlen.

The return value and error codes for setsockopt are the same as for getsockopt.

Socket-Level Options

Constant: int SOL_SOCKET
Use this constant as the level argument to getsockopt or setsockopt to manipulate the socket-level options described in this section.

Here is a table of socket-level option names; all are defined in the header file `sys/socket.h'.

SO_DEBUG
This option toggles recording of debugging information in the underlying protocol modules. The value has type int; a nonzero value means "yes".
SO_REUSEADDR
This option controls whether bind (see section Setting the Address of a Socket) should permit reuse of local addresses for this socket. If you enable this option, you can actually have two sockets with the same Internet port number; but the system won't allow you to use the two identically-named sockets in a way that would confuse the Internet. The reason for this option is that some higher-level Internet protocols, including FTP, require you to keep reusing the same socket number. The value has type int; a nonzero value means "yes".
SO_KEEPALIVE
This option controls whether the underlying protocol should periodically transmit messages on a connected socket. If the peer fails to respond to these messages, the connection is considered broken. The value has type int; a nonzero value means "yes".
SO_DONTROUTE
This option controls whether outgoing messages bypass the normal message routing facilities. If set, messages are sent directly to the network interface instead. The value has type int; a nonzero value means "yes".
SO_LINGER
This option specifies what should happen when the socket of a type that promises reliable delivery still has untransmitted messages when it is closed; see section Closing a Socket. The value has type struct linger.
Data Type: struct linger
This structure type has the following members:
int l_onoff
This field is interpreted as a boolean. If nonzero, close blocks until the data is transmitted or the timeout period has expired.
int l_linger
This specifies the timeout period, in seconds.
SO_BROADCAST
This option controls whether datagrams may be broadcast from the socket. The value has type int; a nonzero value means "yes".
SO_OOBINLINE
If this option is set, out-of-band data received on the socket is placed in the normal input queue. This permits it to be read using read or recv without specifying the MSG_OOB flag. See section Out-of-Band Data. The value has type int; a nonzero value means "yes".
SO_SNDBUF
This option gets or sets the size of the output buffer. The value is a size_t, which is the size in bytes.
SO_RCVBUF
This option gets or sets the size of the input buffer. The value is a size_t, which is the size in bytes.
SO_STYLE
SO_TYPE
This option can be used with getsockopt only. It is used to get the socket's communication style. SO_TYPE is the historical name, and SO_STYLE is the preferred name in GNU. The value has type int and its value designates a communication style; see section Communication Styles.
SO_ERROR
This option can be used with getsockopt only. It is used to reset the error status of the socket. The value is an int, which represents the previous error status.

Networks Database

Many systems come with a database that records a list of networks known to the system developer. This is usually kept either in the file `/etc/networks' or in an equivalent from a name server. This data base is useful for routing programs such as route, but it is not useful for programs that simply communicate over the network. We provide functions to access this data base, which are declared in `netdb.h'.

Data Type: struct netent
This data type is used to represent information about entries in the networks database. It has the following members:

char *n_name
This is the "official" name of the network.
char **n_aliases
These are alternative names for the network, represented as a vector of strings. A null pointer terminates the array.
int n_addrtype
This is the type of the network number; this is always equal to AF_INET for Internet networks.
unsigned long int n_net
This is the network number. Network numbers are returned in host byte order; see section Byte Order Conversion.

Use the getnetbyname or getnetbyaddr functions to search the networks database for information about a specific network. The information is returned in a statically-allocated structure; you must copy the information if you need to save it.

Function: struct netent * getnetbyname (const char *name)
The getnetbyname function returns information about the network named name. It returns a null pointer if there is no such network.

Function: struct netent * getnetbyaddr (long net, int type)
The getnetbyaddr function returns information about the network of type type with number net. You should specify a value of AF_INET for the type argument for Internet networks.

getnetbyaddr returns a null pointer if there is no such network.

You can also scan the networks database using setnetent, getnetent, and endnetent. Be careful in using these functions, because they are not reentrant.

Function: void setnetent (int stayopen)
This function opens and rewinds the networks database.

If the stayopen argument is nonzero, this sets a flag so that subsequent calls to getnetbyname or getnetbyaddr will not close the database (as they usually would). This makes for more efficiency if you call those functions several times, by avoiding reopening the database for each call.

Function: struct netent * getnetent (void)
This function returns the next entry in the networks database. It returns a null pointer if there are no more entries.

Function: void endnetent (void)
This function closes the networks database.

Low-Level Terminal Interface

This chapter describes functions that are specific to terminal devices. You can use these functions to do things like turn off input echoing; set serial line characteristics such as line speed and flow control; and change which characters are used for end-of-file, command-line editing, sending signals, and similar control functions.

Most of the functions in this chapter operate on file descriptors. See section Low-Level Input/Output, for more information about what a file descriptor is and how to open a file descriptor for a terminal device.

Identifying Terminals

The functions described in this chapter only work on files that correspond to terminal devices. You can find out whether a file descriptor is associated with a terminal by using the isatty function.

Prototypes for both isatty and ttyname are declared in the header file `unistd.h'.

Function: int isatty (int filedes)
This function returns 1 if filedes is a file descriptor associated with an open terminal device, and 0 otherwise.

If a file descriptor is associated with a terminal, you can get its associated file name using the ttyname function. See also the ctermid function, described in section Identifying the Controlling Terminal.

Function: char * ttyname (int filedes)
If the file descriptor filedes is associated with a terminal device, the ttyname function returns a pointer to a statically-allocated, null-terminated string containing the file name of the terminal file. The value is a null pointer if the file descriptor isn't associated with a terminal, or the file name cannot be determined.

I/O Queues

Many of the remaining functions in this section refer to the input and output queues of a terminal device. These queues implement a form of buffering within the kernel independent of the buffering implemented by I/O streams (see section Input/Output on Streams).

The terminal input queue is also sometimes referred to as its typeahead buffer. It holds the characters that have been received from the terminal but not yet read by any process.

The size of the terminal's input queue is described by the MAX_INPUT and _POSIX_MAX_INPUT parameters; see section Limits on File System Capacity. You are guaranteed a queue size of at least MAX_INPUT, but the queue might be larger, and might even dynamically change size. If input flow control is enabled by setting the IXOFF input mode bit (see section Input Modes), the terminal driver transmits STOP and START characters to the terminal when necessary to prevent the queue from overflowing. Otherwise, input may be lost if it comes in too fast from the terminal. In canonical mode, all input stays in the queue until a newline character is received, so the terminal input queue can fill up when you type a very long line. See section Two Styles of Input: Canonical or Not.

The terminal output queue is like the input queue, but for output; it contains characters that have been written by processes, but not yet transmitted to the terminal. If output flow control is enabled by setting the IXON input mode bit (see section Input Modes), the terminal driver obeys STOP and STOP characters sent by the terminal to stop and restart transmission of output.

Clearing the terminal input queue means discarding any characters that have been received but not yet read. Similarly, clearing the terminal output queue means discarding any characters that have been written but not yet transmitted.

Two Styles of Input: Canonical or Not

POSIX systems support two basic modes of input: canonical and noncanonical.

In canonical input processing mode, terminal input is processed in lines terminated by newline ('\n'), EOF, or EOL characters. No input can be read until an entire line has been typed by the user, and the read function (see section Input and Output Primitives) returns at most a single line of input, no matter how many bytes are requested.

In canonical input mode, the operating system provides input editing facilities: some characters are interpreted specially to perform editing operations within the current line of text, such as ERASE and KILL. See section Characters for Input Editing.

The constants _POSIX_MAX_CANON and MAX_CANON parameterize the maximum number of bytes which may appear in a single line of canonical input. See section Limits on File System Capacity. You are guaranteed a maximum line length of at least MAX_CANON bytes, but the maximum might be larger, and might even dynamically change size.

In noncanonical input processing mode, characters are not grouped into lines, and ERASE and KILL processing is not performed. The granularity with which bytes are read in noncanonical input mode is controlled by the MIN and TIME settings. See section Noncanonical Input.

Most programs use canonical input mode, because this gives the user a way to edit input line by line. The usual reason to use noncanonical mode is when the program accepts single-character commands or provides its own editing facilities.

The choice of canonical or noncanonical input is controlled by the ICANON flag in the c_lflag member of struct termios. See section Local Modes.

Terminal Modes

This section describes the various terminal attributes that control how input and output are done. The functions, data structures, and symbolic constants are all declared in the header file `termios.h'.

Terminal Mode Data Types

The entire collection of attributes of a terminal is stored in a structure of type struct termios. This structure is used with the functions tcgetattr and tcsetattr to read and set the attributes.

Data Type: struct termios
Structure that records all the I/O attributes of a terminal. The structure includes at least the following members:

tcflag_t c_iflag
A bit mask specifying flags for input modes; see section Input Modes.
tcflag_t c_oflag
A bit mask specifying flags for output modes; see section Output Modes.
tcflag_t c_cflag
A bit mask specifying flags for control modes; see section Control Modes.
tcflag_t c_lflag
A bit mask specifying flags for local modes; see section Local Modes.
cc_t c_cc[NCCS]
An array specifying which characters are associated with various control functions; see section Special Characters.

The struct termios structure also contains members which encode input and output transmission speeds, but the representation is not specified. See section Line Speed, for how to examine and store the speed values.

The following sections describe the details of the members of the struct termios structure.

Data Type: tcflag_t
This is an unsigned integer type used to represent the various bit masks for terminal flags.

Data Type: cc_t
This is an unsigned integer type used to represent characters associated with various terminal control functions.

Macro: int NCCS
The value of this macro is the number of elements in the c_cc array.

Terminal Mode Functions

Function: int tcgetattr (int filedes, struct termios *termios-p)
This function is used to examine the attributes of the terminal device with file descriptor filedes. The attributes are returned in the structure that termios-p points to.

If successful, tcgetattr returns 0. A return value of -1 indicates an error. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes argument is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTTY
The filedes is not associated with a terminal.

Function: int tcsetattr (int filedes, int when, const struct termios *termios-p)
This function sets the attributes of the terminal device with file descriptor filedes. The new attributes are taken from the structure that termios-p points to.

The when argument specifies how to deal with input and output already queued. It can be one of the following values:

TCSANOW
Make the change immediately.
TCSADRAIN
Make the change after waiting until all queued output has been written. You should usually use this option when changing parameters that affect output.
TCSAFLUSH
This is like TCSADRAIN, but also discards any queued input.
TCSASOFT
This is a flag bit that you can add to any of the above alternatives. Its meaning is to inhibit alteration of the state of the terminal hardware. It is a BSD extension; it is only supported on BSD systems and the GNU system. Using TCSASOFT is exactly the same as setting the CIGNORE bit in the c_cflag member of the structure termios-p points to. See section Control Modes, for a description of CIGNORE.

If this function is called from a background process on its controlling terminal, normally all processes in the process group are sent a SIGTTOU signal, in the same way as if the process were trying to write to the terminal. The exception is if the calling process itself is ignoring or blocking SIGTTOU signals, in which case the operation is performed and no signal is sent. See section Job Control.

If successful, tcsetattr returns 0. A return value of -1 indicates an error. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes argument is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTTY
The filedes is not associated with a terminal.
EINVAL
Either the value of the when argument is not valid, or there is something wrong with the data in the termios-p argument.

Although tcgetattr and tcsetattr specify the terminal device with a file descriptor, the attributes are those of the terminal device itself and not of the file descriptor. This means that the effects of changing terminal attributes are persistent; if another process opens the terminal file later on, it will see the changed attributes even though it doesn't have anything to do with the open file descriptor you originally specified in changing the attributes.

Similarly, if a single process has multiple or duplicated file descriptors for the same terminal device, changing the terminal attributes affects input and output to all of these file descriptors. This means, for example, that you can't open one file descriptor or stream to read from a terminal in the normal line-buffered, echoed mode; and simultaneously have another file descriptor for the same terminal that you use to read from it in single-character, non-echoed mode. Instead, you have to explicitly switch the terminal back and forth between the two modes.

Setting Terminal Modes Properly

When you set terminal modes, you should call tcgetattr first to get the current modes of the particular terminal device, modify only those modes that you are really interested in, and store the result with tcsetattr.

It's a bad idea to simply initialize a struct termios structure to a chosen set of attributes and pass it directly to tcsetattr. Your program may be run years from now, on systems that support members not documented in this manual. The way to avoid setting these members to unreasonable values is to avoid changing them.

What's more, different terminal devices may require different mode settings in order to function properly. So you should avoid blindly copying attributes from one terminal device to another.

When a member contains a collection of independent flags, as the c_iflag, c_oflag and c_cflag members do, even setting the entire member is a bad idea, because particular operating systems have their own flags. Instead, you should start with the current value of the member and alter only the flags whose values matter in your program, leaving any other flags unchanged.

Here is an example of how to set one flag (ISTRIP) in the struct termios structure while properly preserving all the other data in the structure:

int
set_istrip (int desc, int value)
{
  struct termios settings;
  int result;

  result = tcgetattr (desc, &settings);
  if (result < 0)
    {
      perror ("error in tcgetattr");
      return 0;
    }
  settings.c_iflag &= ~ISTRIP;
  if (value)
    settings.c_iflag |= ISTRIP;
  result = tcsetattr (desc, TCSANOW, &settings);
  if (result < 0)
    {
      perror ("error in tcgetattr");
      return;
   }
  return 1;
}

Input Modes

This section describes the terminal attribute flags that control fairly low-level aspects of input processing: handling of parity errors, break signals, flow control, and RET and LFD characters.

All of these flags are bits in the c_iflag member of the struct termios structure. The member is an integer, and you change flags using the operators &, | and ^. Don't try to specify the entire value for c_iflag---instead, change only specific flags and leave the rest untouched (see section Setting Terminal Modes Properly).

Macro: tcflag_t INPCK
If this bit is set, input parity checking is enabled. If it is not set, no checking at all is done for parity errors on input; the characters are simply passed through to the application.

Parity checking on input processing is independent of whether parity detection and generation on the underlying terminal hardware is enabled; see section Control Modes. For example, you could clear the INPCK input mode flag and set the PARENB control mode flag to ignore parity errors on input, but still generate parity on output.

If this bit is set, what happens when a parity error is detected depends on whether the IGNPAR or PARMRK bits are set. If neither of these bits are set, a byte with a parity error is passed to the application as a '\0' character.

Macro: tcflag_t IGNPAR
If this bit is set, any byte with a framing or parity error is ignored. This is only useful if INPCK is also set.

Macro: tcflag_t PARMRK
If this bit is set, input bytes with parity or framing errors are marked when passed to the program. This bit is meaningful only when INPCK is set and IGNPAR is not set.

The way erroneous bytes are marked is with two preceding bytes, 377 and 0. Thus, the program actually reads three bytes for one erroneous byte received from the terminal.

If a valid byte has the value 0377, and ISTRIP (see below) is not set, the program might confuse it with the prefix that marks a parity error. So a valid byte 0377 is passed to the program as two bytes, 0377 0377, in this case.

Macro: tcflag_t ISTRIP
If this bit is set, valid input bytes are stripped to seven bits; otherwise, all eight bits are available for programs to read.

Macro: tcflag_t IGNBRK
If this bit is set, break conditions are ignored.

A break condition is defined in the context of asynchronous serial data transmission as a series of zero-value bits longer than a single byte.

Macro: tcflag_t BRKINT
If this bit is set and IGNBRK is not set, a break condition clears the terminal input and output queues and raises a SIGINT signal for the foreground process group associated with the terminal.

If neither BRKINT nor IGNBRK are set, a break condition is passed to the application as a single '\0' character if PARMRK is not set, or otherwise as a three-character sequence '\377', '\0', '\0'.

Macro: tcflag_t IGNCR
If this bit is set, carriage return characters ('\r') are discarded on input. Discarding carriage return may be useful on terminals that send both carriage return and linefeed when you type the RET key.

Macro: tcflag_t ICRNL
If this bit is set and IGNCR is not set, carriage return characters ('\r') received as input are passed to the application as newline characters ('\n').

Macro: tcflag_t INLCR
If this bit is set, newline characters ('\n') received as input are passed to the application as carriage return characters ('\r').

Macro: tcflag_t IXOFF
If this bit is set, start/stop control on input is enabled. In other words, the computer sends STOP and START characters as necessary to prevent input from coming in faster than programs are reading it. The idea is that the actual terminal hardware that is generating the input data responds to a STOP character by suspending transmission, and to a START character by resuming transmission. See section Special Characters for Flow Control.

Macro: tcflag_t IXON
If this bit is set, start/stop control on output is enabled. In other words, if the computer receives a STOP character, it suspends output until a START character is received. In this case, the STOP and START characters are never passed to the application program. If this bit is not set, then START and STOP can be read as ordinary characters. See section Special Characters for Flow Control.

Macro: tcflag_t IXANY
If this bit is set, any input character restarts output when output has been suspended with the STOP character. Otherwise, only the START character restarts output.

This is a BSD extension; it exists only on BSD systems and the GNU system.

Macro: tcflag_t IMAXBEL
If this bit is set, then filling up the terminal input buffer sends a BEL character (code 007) to the terminal to ring the bell.

This is a BSD extension.

Output Modes

This section describes the terminal flags and fields that control how output characters are translated and padded for display. All of these are contained in the c_oflag member of the struct termios structure.

The c_oflag member itself is an integer, and you change the flags and fields using the operators &, |, and ^. Don't try to specify the entire value for c_oflag---instead, change only specific flags and leave the rest untouched (see section Setting Terminal Modes Properly).

Macro: tcflag_t OPOST
If this bit is set, output data is processed in some unspecified way so that it is displayed appropriately on the terminal device. This typically includes mapping newline characters ('\n') onto carriage return and linefeed pairs.

If this bit isn't set, the characters are transmitted as-is.

The following three bits are BSD features, and they exist only BSD systems and the GNU system. They are effective only if OPOST is set.

Macro: tcflag_t ONLCR
If this bit is set, convert the newline character on output into a pair of characters, carriage return followed by linefeed.

Macro: tcflag_t OXTABS
If this bit is set, convert tab characters on output into the appropriate number of spaces to emulate a tab stop every eight columns.

Macro: tcflag_t ONOEOT
If this bit is set, discard C-d characters (code 004) on output. These characters cause many dial-up terminals to disconnect.

Control Modes

This section describes the terminal flags and fields that control parameters usually associated with asynchronous serial data transmission. These flags may not make sense for other kinds of terminal ports (such as a network connection pseudo-terminal). All of these are contained in the c_cflag member of the struct termios structure.

The c_cflag member itself is an integer, and you change the flags and fields using the operators &, |, and ^. Don't try to specify the entire value for c_cflag---instead, change only specific flags and leave the rest untouched (see section Setting Terminal Modes Properly).

Macro: tcflag_t CLOCAL
If this bit is set, it indicates that the terminal is connected "locally" and that the modem status lines (such as carrier detect) should be ignored.

On many systems if this bit is not set and you call open without the O_NONBLOCK flag set, open blocks until a modem connection is established.

If this bit is not set and a modem disconnect is detected, a SIGHUP signal is sent to the controlling process group for the terminal (if it has one). Normally, this causes the process to exit; see section Signal Handling. Reading from the terminal after a disconnect causes an end-of-file condition, and writing causes an EIO error to be returned. The terminal device must be closed and reopened to clear the condition.

Macro: tcflag_t HUPCL
If this bit is set, a modem disconnect is generated when all processes that have the terminal device open have either closed the file or exited.

Macro: tcflag_t CREAD
If this bit is set, input can be read from the terminal. Otherwise, input is discarded when it arrives.

Macro: tcflag_t CSTOPB
If this bit is set, two stop bits are used. Otherwise, only one stop bit is used.

Macro: tcflag_t PARENB
If this bit is set, generation and detection of a parity bit are enabled. See section Input Modes, for information on how input parity errors are handled.

If this bit is not set, no parity bit is added to output characters, and input characters are not checked for correct parity.

Macro: tcflag_t PARODD
This bit is only useful if PARENB is set. If PARODD is set, odd parity is used, otherwise even parity is used.

The control mode flags also includes a field for the number of bits per character. You can use the CSIZE macro as a mask to extract the value, like this: settings.c_cflag & CSIZE.

Macro: tcflag_t CSIZE
This is a mask for the number of bits per character.

Macro: tcflag_t CS5
This specifies five bits per byte.

Macro: tcflag_t CS6
This specifies six bits per byte.

Macro: tcflag_t CS7
This specifies seven bits per byte.

Macro: tcflag_t CS8
This specifies eight bits per byte.

The following four bits are BSD extensions; this exist only on BSD systems and the GNU system.

Macro: tcflag_t CCTS_OFLOW
If this bit is set, enable flow control of output based on the CTS wire (RS232 protocol).

Macro: tcflag_t CRTS_IFLOW
If this bit is set, enable flow control of input based on the RTS wire (RS232 protocol).

Macro: tcflag_t MDMBUF
If this bit is set, enable carrier-based flow control of output.

Macro: tcflag_t CIGNORE
If this bit is set, it says to ignore the control modes and line speed values entirely. This is only meaningful in a call to tcsetattr.

The c_cflag member and the line speed values returned by cfgetispeed and cfgetospeed will be unaffected by the call. CIGNORE is useful if you want to set all the software modes in the other members, but leave the hardware details in c_cflag unchanged. (This is how the TCSASOFT flag to tcsettattr works.)

This bit is never set in the structure filled in by tcgetattr.

Local Modes

This section describes the flags for the c_lflag member of the struct termios structure. These flags generally control higher-level aspects of input processing than the input modes flags described in section Input Modes, such as echoing, signals, and the choice of canonical or noncanonical input.

The c_lflag member itself is an integer, and you change the flags and fields using the operators &, |, and ^. Don't try to specify the entire value for c_lflag---instead, change only specific flags and leave the rest untouched (see section Setting Terminal Modes Properly).

Macro: tcflag_t ICANON
This bit, if set, enables canonical input processing mode. Otherwise, input is processed in noncanonical mode. See section Two Styles of Input: Canonical or Not.

Macro: tcflag_t ECHO
If this bit is set, echoing of input characters back to the terminal is enabled.

Macro: tcflag_t ECHOE
If this bit is set, echoing indicates erasure of input with the ERASE character by erasing the last character in the current line from the screen. Otherwise, the character erased is re-echoed to show what has happened (suitable for a printing terminal).

This bit only controls the display behavior; the ICANON bit by itself controls actual recognition of the ERASE character and erasure of input, without which ECHOE is simply irrelevant.

Macro: tcflag_t ECHOPRT
This bit is like ECHOE, enables display of the ERASE character in a way that is geared to a hardcopy terminal. When you type the ERASE character, a `\' character is printed followed by the first character erased. Typing the ERASE character again just prints the next character erased. Then, the next time you type a normal character, a `/' character is printed before the character echoes.

This is a BSD extension, and exists only in BSD systems and the GNU system.

Macro: tcflag_t ECHOK
This bit enables special display of the KILL character by moving to a new line after echoing the KILL character normally. The behavior of ECHOKE (below) is nicer to look at.

If this bit is not set, the KILL character echoes just as it would if it were not the KILL character. Then it is up to the user to remember that the KILL character has erased the preceding input; there is no indication of this on the screen.

This bit only controls the display behavior; the ICANON bit by itself controls actual recognition of the KILL character and erasure of input, without which ECHOK is simply irrelevant.

Macro: tcflag_t ECHOKE
This bit is similar to ECHOK. It enables special display of the KILL character by erasing on the screen the entire line that has been killed. This is a BSD extension, and exists only in BSD systems and the GNU system.

Macro: tcflag_t ECHONL
If this bit is set and the ICANON bit is also set, then the newline ('\n') character is echoed even if the ECHO bit is not set.

Macro: tcflag_t ECHOCTL
If this bit is set and the ECHO bit is also set, echo control characters with `^' followed by the corresponding text character. Thus, control-A echoes as `^A'. This is usually the preferred mode for interactive input, because echoing a control character back to the terminal could have some undesired effect on the terminal.

This is a BSD extension, and exists only in BSD systems and the GNU system.

Macro: tcflag_t ISIG
This bit controls whether the INTR, QUIT, and SUSP characters are recognized. The functions associated with these characters are performed if and only if this bit is set. Being in canonical or noncanonical input mode has no affect on the interpretation of these characters.

You should use caution when disabling recognition of these characters. Programs that cannot be interrupted interactively are very user-unfriendly. If you clear this bit, your program should provide some alternate interface that allows the user to interactively send the signals associated with these characters, or to escape from the program.

See section Characters that Cause Signals.

Macro: tcflag_t IEXTEN
POSIX.1 gives IEXTEN implementation-defined meaning, so you cannot rely on this interpretation on all systems.

On BSD systems and the GNU system, it enables the LNEXT and DISCARD characters. See section Other Special Characters.

Macro: tcflag_t NOFLSH
Normally, the INTR, QUIT, and SUSP characters cause input and output queues for the terminal to be cleared. If this bit is set, the queues are not cleared.

Macro: tcflag_t TOSTOP
If this bit is set and the system supports job control, then SIGTTOU signals are generated by background processes that attempt to write to the terminal. See section Access to the Controlling Terminal.

The following bits are BSD extensions; they exist only in BSD systems and the GNU system.

Macro: tcflag_t ALTWERASE
This bit determines how far the WERASE character should erase. The WERASE character erases back to the beginning of a word; the question is, where do words begin?

If this bit is clear, then the beginning of a word is a nonwhitespace character following a whitespace character. If the bit is set, then the beginning of a word is an alphanumeric character or underscore following a character which is none of those.

See section Characters for Input Editing, for more information about the WERASE character.

Macro: tcflag_t FLUSHO
This is the bit that toggles when the user types the DISCARD character. While this bit is set, all output is discarded. See section Other Special Characters.

Macro: tcflag_t NOKERNINFO
Setting this bit disables handling of the STATUS character. See section Other Special Characters.

Macro: tcflag_t PENDIN
If this bit is set, it indicates that there is a line of input that needs to be reprinted. Typing the REPRINT character sets this bit; the bit remains set until reprinting is finished. See section Characters for Input Editing.

Line Speed

The terminal line speed tells the computer how fast to read and write data on the terminal.

If the terminal is connected to a real serial line, the terminal speed you specify actually controls the line--if it doesn't match the terminal's own idea of the speed, communication does not work. Real serial ports accept only certain standard speeds. Also, particular hardware may not support even all the standard speeds. Specifying a speed of zero hangs up a dialup connection and turns off modem control signals.

If the terminal is not a real serial line (for example, if it is a network connection), then the line speed won't really affect data transmission speed, but some programs will use it to determine the amount of padding needed. It's best to specify a line speed value that matches the actual speed of the actual terminal, but you can safely experiment with different values to vary the amount of padding.

There are actually two line speeds for each terminal, one for input and one for output. You can set them independently, but most often terminals use the same speed for both directions.

The speed values are stored in the struct termios structure, but don't try to access them in the struct termios structure directly. Instead, you should use the following functions to read and store them:

Function: speed_t cfgetospeed (const struct termios *termios-p)
This function returns the output line speed stored in the structure *termios-p.

Function: speed_t cfgetispeed (const struct termios *termios-p)
This function returns the input line speed stored in the structure *termios-p.

Function: int cfsetospeed (struct termios *termios-p, speed_t speed)
This function stores speed in *termios-p as the output speed. The normal return value is 0; a value of -1 indicates an error. If speed is not a speed, cfsetospeed returns -1.

Function: int cfsetispeed (struct termios *termios-p, speed_t speed)
This function stores speed in *termios-p as the input speed. The normal return value is 0; a value of -1 indicates an error. If speed is not a speed, cfsetospeed returns -1.

Function: int cfsetspeed (struct termios *termios-p, speed_t speed)
This function stores speed in *termios-p as both the input and output speeds. The normal return value is 0; a value of -1 indicates an error. If speed is not a speed, cfsetspeed returns -1. This function is an extension in 4.4 BSD.

Data Type: speed_t
The speed_t type is an unsigned integer data type used to represent line speeds.

The functions cfsetospeed and cfsetispeed report errors only for speed values that the system simply cannot handle. If you specify a speed value that is basically acceptable, then those functions will succeed. But they do not check that a particular hardware device can actually support the specified speeds--in fact, they don't know which device you plan to set the speed for. If you use tcsetattr to set the speed of a particular device to a value that it cannot handle, tcsetattr returns -1.

Portability note: In the GNU library, the functions above accept speeds measured in bits per second as input, and return speed values measured in bits per second. Other libraries require speeds to be indicated by special codes. For POSIX.1 portability, you must use one of the following symbols to represent the speed; their precise numeric values are system-dependent, but each name has a fixed meaning: B110 stands for 110 bps, B300 for 300 bps, and so on. There is no portable way to represent any speed but these, but these are the only speeds that typical serial lines can support.

B0  B50  B75  B110  B134  B150  B200
B300  B600  B1200  B1800  B2400  B4800
B9600  B19200  B38400

BSD defines two additional speed symbols as aliases: EXTA is an alias for B19200 and EXTB is an alias for B38400. These aliases are obsolete.

Special Characters

In canonical input, the terminal driver recognizes a number of special characters which perform various control functions. These include the ERASE character (usually DEL) for editing input, and other editing characters. The INTR character (normally C-c) for sending a SIGINT signal, and other signal-raising characters, may be available in either canonical or noncanonical input mode. All these characters are described in this section.

The particular characters used are specified in the c_cc member of the struct termios structure. This member is an array; each element specifies the character for a particular role. Each element has a symbolic constant that stands for the index of that element--for example, INTR is the index of the element that specifies the INTR character, so storing '=' in termios.c_cc[INTR] specifies `=' as the INTR character.

On some systems, you can disable a particular special character function by specifying the value _POSIX_VDISABLE for that role. This value is unequal to any possible character code. See section Optional Features in File Support, for more information about how to tell whether the operating system you are using supports _POSIX_VDISABLE.

Characters for Input Editing

These special characters are active only in canonical input mode. See section Two Styles of Input: Canonical or Not.

Macro: int VEOF
This is the subscript for the EOF character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VEOF] holds the character itself.

The EOF character is recognized only in canonical input mode. It acts as a line terminator in the same way as a newline character, but if the EOF character is typed at the beginning of a line it causes read to return a byte count of zero, indicating end-of-file. The EOF character itself is discarded.

Usually, the EOF character is C-d.

Macro: int VEOL
This is the subscript for the EOL character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VEOL] holds the character itself.

The EOL character is recognized only in canonical input mode. It acts as a line terminator, just like a newline character. The EOL character is not discarded; it is read as the last character in the input line.

You don't need to use the EOL character to make RET end a line. Just set the ICRNL flag. In fact, this is the default state of affairs.

Macro: int VEOL2
This is the subscript for the EOL2 character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VEOL2] holds the character itself.

The EOL2 character works just like the EOL character (see above), but it can be a different character. Thus, you can specify two characters to terminate an input line, by setting EOL to one of them and EOL2 to the other.

The EOL2 character is a BSD extension; it exists only on BSD systems and the GNU system.

Macro: int VERASE
This is the subscript for the ERASE character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VERASE] holds the character itself.

The ERASE character is recognized only in canonical input mode. When the user types the erase character, the previous character typed is discarded. (If the terminal generates multibyte character sequences, this may cause more than one byte of input to be discarded.) This cannot be used to erase past the beginning of the current line of text. The ERASE character itself is discarded.

Usually, the ERASE character is DEL.

Macro: int VWERASE
This is the subscript for the WERASE character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VWERASE] holds the character itself.

The WERASE character is recognized only in canonical mode. It erases an entire word of prior input, and any whitespace after it; whitespace characters before the word are not erased.

The definition of a "word" depends on the setting of the ALTWERASE mode; see section Local Modes.

If the ALTWERASE mode is not set, a word is defined as a sequence of any characters except space or tab.

If the ALTWERASE mode is set, a word is defined as a sequence of characters containing only letters, numbers, and underscores, optionally followed by one character that is not a letter, number, or underscore.

The WERASE character is usually C-w.

This is a BSD extension.

Macro: int VKILL
This is the subscript for the KILL character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VKILL] holds the character itself.

The KILL character is recognized only in canonical input mode. When the user types the kill character, the entire contents of the current line of input are discarded. The kill character itself is discarded too.

The KILL character is usually C-u.

Macro: int VREPRINT
This is the subscript for the REPRINT character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VREPRINT] holds the character itself.

The REPRINT character is recognized only in canonical mode. It reprints the current input line. If some asynchronous output has come while you are typing, this lets you see the line you are typing clearly again.

The REPRINT character is usually C-r.

This is a BSD extension.

Characters that Cause Signals

These special characters may be active in either canonical or noncanonical input mode, but only when the ISIG flag is set (see section Local Modes).

Macro: int VINTR
This is the subscript for the INTR character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VINTR] holds the character itself.

The INTR (interrupt) character raises a SIGINT signal for all processes in the foreground job associated with the terminal. The INTR character itself is then discarded. See section Signal Handling, for more information about signals.

Typically, the INTR character is C-c.

Macro: int VQUIT
This is the subscript for the QUIT character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VQUIT] holds the character itself.

The QUIT character raises a SIGQUIT signal for all processes in the foreground job associated with the terminal. The QUIT character itself is then discarded. See section Signal Handling, for more information about signals.

Typically, the QUIT character is C-\.

Macro: int VSUSP
This is the subscript for the SUSP character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VSUSP] holds the character itself.

The SUSP (suspend) character is recognized only if the implementation supports job control (see section Job Control). It causes a SIGTSTP signal to be sent to all processes in the foreground job associated with the terminal. The SUSP character itself is then discarded. See section Signal Handling, for more information about signals.

Typically, the SUSP character is C-z.

Few applications disable the normal interpretation of the SUSP character. If your program does this, it should provide some other mechanism for the user to stop the job. When the user invokes this mechanism, the program should send a SIGTSTP signal to the process group of the process, not just to the process itself. See section Signaling Another Process.

Macro: int VDSUSP
This is the subscript for the DSUSP character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VDSUSP] holds the character itself.

The DSUSP (suspend) character is recognized only if the implementation supports job control (see section Job Control). It sends a SIGTSTP signal, like the SUSP character, but not right away--only when the program tries to read it as input. Not all systems with job control support DSUSP; only BSD-compatible systems (including the GNU system).

See section Signal Handling, for more information about signals.

Typically, the DSUSP character is C-y.

Special Characters for Flow Control

These special characters may be active in either canonical or noncanonical input mode, but their use is controlled by the flags IXON and IXOFF (see section Input Modes).

Macro: int VSTART
This is the subscript for the START character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VSTART] holds the character itself.

The START character is used to support the IXON and IXOFF input modes. If IXON is set, receiving a START character resumes suspended output; the START character itself is discarded. If IXANY is set, receiving any character at all resumes suspended output; the resuming character is not discarded unless it is the START character. IXOFF is set, the system may also transmit START characters to the terminal.

The usual value for the START character is C-q. You may not be able to change this value--the hardware may insist on using C-q regardless of what you specify.

Macro: int VSTOP
This is the subscript for the STOP character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VSTOP] holds the character itself.

The STOP character is used to support the IXON and IXOFF input modes. If IXON is set, receiving a STOP character causes output to be suspended; the STOP character itself is discarded. If IXOFF is set, the system may also transmit STOP characters to the terminal, to prevent the input queue from overflowing.

The usual value for the STOP character is C-s. You may not be able to change this value--the hardware may insist on using C-s regardless of what you specify.

Other Special Characters

These special characters exist only in BSD systems and the GNU system.

Macro: int VLNEXT
This is the subscript for the LNEXT character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VLNEXT] holds the character itself.

The LNEXT character is recognized only when IEXTEN is set, but in both canonical and noncanonical mode. It disables any special significance of the next character the user types. Even if the character would normally perform some editing function or generate a signal, it is read as a plain character. This is the analogue of the C-q command in Emacs. "LNEXT" stands for "literal next."

The LNEXT character is usually C-v.

Macro: int VDISCARD
This is the subscript for the DISCARD character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VDISCARD] holds the character itself.

The DISCARD character is recognized only when IEXTEN is set, but in both canonical and noncanonical mode. Its effect is to toggle the discard-output flag. When this flag is set, all program output is discarded. Setting the flag also discards all output currently in the output buffer. Typing any other character resets the flag.

Macro: int VSTATUS
This is the subscript for the STATUS character in the special control character array. termios.c_cc[VSTATUS] holds the character itself.

The STATUS character's effect is to print out a status message about how the current process is running.

The STATUS character is recognized only in canonical mode, and only if NOKERNINFO is not set.

Noncanonical Input

In noncanonical input mode, the special editing characters such as ERASE and KILL are ignored. The system facilities for the user to edit input are disabled in noncanonical mode, so that all input characters (unless they are special for signal or flow-control purposes) are passed to the application program exactly as typed. It is up to the application program to give the user ways to edit the input, if appropriate.

Noncanonical mode offers special parameters called MIN and TIME for controlling whether and how long to wait for input to be available. You can even use them to avoid ever waiting--to return immediately with whatever input is available, or with no input.

The MIN and TIME are stored in elements of the c_cc array, which is a member of the struct termios structure. Each element of this array has a particular role, and each element has a symbolic constant that stands for the index of that element. VMIN and VMAX are the names for the indices in the array of the MIN and TIME slots.

Macro: int VMIN
This is the subscript for the MIN slot in the c_cc array. Thus, termios.c_cc[VMIN] is the value itself.

The MIN slot is only meaningful in noncanonical input mode; it specifies the minimum number of bytes that must be available in the input queue in order for read to return.

Macro: int VTIME
This is the subscript for the TIME slot in the c_cc array. Thus, termios.c_cc[VTIME] is the value itself.

The TIME slot is only meaningful in noncanonical input mode; it specifies how long to wait for input before returning, in units of 0.1 seconds.

The MIN and TIME values interact to determine the criterion for when read should return; their precise meanings depend on which of them are nonzero. There are four possible cases:

What happens if MIN is 50 and you ask to read just 10 bytes? Normally, read waits until there are 50 bytes in the buffer (or, more generally, the wait condition described above is satisfied), and then reads 10 of them, leaving the other 40 buffered in the operating system for a subsequent call to read.

Portability note: On some systems, the MIN and TIME slots are actually the same as the EOF and EOL slots. This causes no serious problem because the MIN and TIME slots are used only in noncanonical input and the EOF and EOL slots are used only in canonical input, but it isn't very clean. The GNU library allocates separate slots for these uses.

Function: int cfmakeraw (struct termios *termios-p)
This function provides an easy way to set up *termios-p for what has traditionally been called "raw mode" in BSD. This uses noncanonical input, and turns off most processing to give an unmodified channel to the terminal.

It does exactly this:

  termios-p->c_iflag &= ~(IGNBRK|BRKINT|PARMRK|ISTRIP
                                |INLCR|IGNCR|ICRNL|IXON);
  termios-p->c_oflag &= ~OPOST;
  termios-p->c_lflag &= ~(ECHO|ECHONL|ICANON|ISIG|IEXTEN);
  termios-p->c_cflag &= ~(CSIZE|PARENB);
  termios-p->c_cflag |= CS8;

Line Control Functions

These functions perform miscellaneous control actions on terminal devices. As regards terminal access, they are treated like doing output: if any of these functions is used by a background process on its controlling terminal, normally all processes in the process group are sent a SIGTTOU signal. The exception is if the calling process itself is ignoring or blocking SIGTTOU signals, in which case the operation is performed and no signal is sent. See section Job Control.

Function: int tcsendbreak (int filedes, int duration)
This function generates a break condition by transmitting a stream of zero bits on the terminal associated with the file descriptor filedes. The duration of the break is controlled by the duration argument. If zero, the duration is between 0.25 and 0.5 seconds. The meaning of a nonzero value depends on the operating system.

This function does nothing if the terminal is not an asynchronous serial data port.

The return value is normally zero. In the event of an error, a value of -1 is returned. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTTY
The filedes is not associated with a terminal device.

Function: int tcdrain (int filedes)
The tcdrain function waits until all queued output to the terminal filedes has been transmitted.

The return value is normally zero. In the event of an error, a value of -1 is returned. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTTY
The filedes is not associated with a terminal device.
EINTR
The operation was interrupted by delivery of a signal. See section Primitives Interrupted by Signals.

Function: int tcflush (int filedes, int queue)
The tcflush function is used to clear the input and/or output queues associated with the terminal file filedes. The queue argument specifies which queue(s) to clear, and can be one of the following values:

TCIFLUSH
Clear any input data received, but not yet read.
TCOFLUSH
Clear any output data written, but not yet transmitted.
TCIOFLUSH
Clear both queued input and output.

The return value is normally zero. In the event of an error, a value of -1 is returned. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTTY
The filedes is not associated with a terminal device.
EINVAL
A bad value was supplied as the queue argument.

It is unfortunate that this function is named tcflush, because the term "flush" is normally used for quite another operation--waiting until all output is transmitted--and using it for discarding input or output would be confusing. Unfortunately, the name tcflush comes from POSIX and we cannot change it.

Function: int tcflow (int filedes, int action)
The tcflow function is used to perform operations relating to XON/XOFF flow control on the terminal file specified by filedes.

The action argument specifies what operation to perform, and can be one of the following values:

TCOOFF
Suspend transmission of output.
TCOON
Restart transmission of output.
TCIOFF
Transmit a STOP character.
TCION
Transmit a START character.

For more information about the STOP and START characters, see section Special Characters.

The return value is normally zero. In the event of an error, a value of -1 is returned. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EBADF
The filedes is not a valid file descriptor.
ENOTTY
The filedes is not associated with a terminal device.
EINVAL
A bad value was supplied as the action argument.

Noncanonical Mode Example

Here is an example program that shows how you can set up a terminal device to read single characters in noncanonical input mode, without echo.

#include <unistd.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <termios.h>

/* Use this variable to remember original terminal attributes. */

struct termios saved_attributes;

void 
reset_input_mode (void)
{
  tcsetattr (STDIN_FILENO, TCSANOW, &saved_attributes);
}

void 
set_input_mode (void)
{
  struct termios tattr;
  char *name;

  /* Make sure stdin is a terminal. */
  if (!isatty (STDIN_FILENO))
    {
      fprintf (stderr, "Not a terminal.\n");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }

  /* Save the terminal attributes so we can restore them later. */
  tcgetattr (STDIN_FILENO, &saved_attributes);
  atexit (reset_input_mode);

  /* Set the funny terminal modes. */
  tcgetattr (STDIN_FILENO, &tattr);
  tattr.c_lflag &= ~(ICANON|ECHO); /* Clear ICANON and ECHO. */
  tattr.c_cc[VMIN] = 1;
  tattr.c_cc[VTIME] = 0;
  tcsetattr (STDIN_FILENO, TCSAFLUSH, &tattr);
}

int
main (void)
{
  char c;

  set_input_mode ();

  while (1)
    {
      read (STDIN_FILENO, &c, 1);
      if (c == '\004')          /* C-d */
        break;
      else
        putchar (c);
    }

  return EXIT_SUCCESS;
}

This program is careful to restore the original terminal modes before exiting or terminating with a signal. It uses the atexit function (see section Cleanups on Exit) to make sure this is done by exit.

The shell is supposed to take care of resetting the terminal modes when a process is stopped or continued; see section Job Control. But some existing shells do not actually do this, so you may wish to establish handlers for job control signals that reset terminal modes. The above example does so.

Mathematics

This chapter contains information about functions for performing mathematical computations, such as trigonometric functions. Most of these functions have prototypes declared in the header file `math.h'.

All of the functions that operate on floating-point numbers accept arguments and return results of type double. In the future, there may be additional functions that operate on float and long double values. For example, cosf and cosl would be versions of the cos function that operate on float and long double arguments, respectively. In the meantime, you should avoid using these names yourself. See section Reserved Names.

Domain and Range Errors

Many of the functions listed in this chapter are defined mathematically over a domain that is only a subset of real numbers. For example, the acos function is defined over the domain between -1 and 1. If you pass an argument to one of these functions that is outside the domain over which it is defined, the function sets errno to EDOM to indicate a domain error. On machines that support IEEE 754 floating point, functions reporting error EDOM also return a NaN.

Some of these functions are defined mathematically to result in a complex value over parts of their domains. The most familiar example of this is taking the square root of a negative number. The functions in this chapter take only real arguments and return only real values; therefore, if the value ought to be nonreal, this is treated as a domain error.

A related problem is that the mathematical result of a function may not be representable as a floating point number. If magnitude of the correct result is too large to be represented, the function sets errno to ERANGE to indicate a range error, and returns a particular very large value (named by the macro HUGE_VAL) or its negation (- HUGE_VAL).

If the magnitude of the result is too small, a value of zero is returned instead. In this case, errno might or might not be set to ERANGE.

The only completely reliable way to check for domain and range errors is to set errno to 0 before you call the mathematical function and test errno afterward. As a consequence of this use of errno, use of the mathematical functions is not reentrant if you check for errors.

None of the mathematical functions ever generates signals as a result of domain or range errors. In particular, this means that you won't see SIGFPE signals generated within these functions. (See section Signal Handling, for more information about signals.)

Macro: double HUGE_VAL
An expression representing a particular very large number. On machines that use IEEE 754/IEEE 854 floating point format, the value is "infinity". On other machines, it's typically the largest positive number that can be represented.

The value of this macro is used as the return value from various mathematical double returning functions in overflow situations.

Macro: float HUGE_VALf
This macro is similar to the HUGE_VAL macro except that it is used by functions returning float values.

This macro is a GNU extension.

Macro: long double HUGE_VALl
This macro is similar to the HUGE_VAL macro except that it is used by functions returning long double values. The value is only different from HUGE_VAL if the architecture really supports long double values.

This macro is a GNU extension.

For more information about floating-point representations and limits, see section Floating Point Parameters. In particular, the macro DBL_MAX might be more appropriate than HUGE_VAL for many uses other than testing for an error in a mathematical function.

Trigonometric Functions

These are the familiar sin, cos, and tan functions. The arguments to all of these functions are in units of radians; recall that pi radians equals 180 degrees.

The math library doesn't define a symbolic constant for pi, but you can define your own if you need one:

#define PI 3.14159265358979323846264338327

You can also compute the value of pi with the expression acos (-1.0).

Function: double sin (double x)
This function returns the sine of x, where x is given in radians. The return value is in the range -1 to 1.

Function: double cos (double x)
This function returns the cosine of x, where x is given in radians. The return value is in the range -1 to 1.

Function: double tan (double x)
This function returns the tangent of x, where x is given in radians.

The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

ERANGE
Mathematically, the tangent function has singularities at odd multiples of pi/2. If the argument x is too close to one of these singularities, tan sets errno to ERANGE and returns either positive or negative HUGE_VAL.

Inverse Trigonometric Functions

These are the usual arc sine, arc cosine and arc tangent functions, which are the inverses of the sine, cosine and tangent functions, respectively.

Function: double asin (double x)
This function computes the arc sine of x---that is, the value whose sine is x. The value is in units of radians. Mathematically, there are infinitely many such values; the one actually returned is the one between -pi/2 and pi/2 (inclusive).

asin fails, and sets errno to EDOM, if x is out of range. The arc sine function is defined mathematically only over the domain -1 to 1.

Function: double acos (double x)
This function computes the arc cosine of x---that is, the value whose cosine is x. The value is in units of radians. Mathematically, there are infinitely many such values; the one actually returned is the one between 0 and pi (inclusive).

acos fails, and sets errno to EDOM, if x is out of range. The arc cosine function is defined mathematically only over the domain -1 to 1.

Function: double atan (double x)
This function computes the arc tangent of x---that is, the value whose tangent is x. The value is in units of radians. Mathematically, there are infinitely many such values; the one actually returned is the one between -pi/2 and pi/2 (inclusive).

Function: double atan2 (double y, double x)
This is the two argument arc tangent function. It is similar to computing the arc tangent of y/x, except that the signs of both arguments are used to determine the quadrant of the result, and x is permitted to be zero. The return value is given in radians and is in the range -pi to pi, inclusive.

If x and y are coordinates of a point in the plane, atan2 returns the signed angle between the line from the origin to that point and the x-axis. Thus, atan2 is useful for converting Cartesian coordinates to polar coordinates. (To compute the radial coordinate, use hypot; see section Exponentiation and Logarithms.)

The function atan2 sets errno to EDOM if both x and y are zero; the return value is not defined in this case.

Exponentiation and Logarithms

Function: double exp (double x)
The exp function returns the value of e (the base of natural logarithms) raised to power x.

The function fails, and sets errno to ERANGE, if the magnitude of the result is too large to be representable.

Function: double log (double x)
This function returns the natural logarithm of x. exp (log (x)) equals x, exactly in mathematics and approximately in C.

The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EDOM
The argument x is negative. The log function is defined mathematically to return a real result only on positive arguments.
ERANGE
The argument is zero. The log of zero is not defined.

Function: double log10 (double x)
This function returns the base-10 logarithm of x. Except for the different base, it is similar to the log function. In fact, log10 (x) equals log (x) / log (10).

Function: double pow (double base, double power)
This is a general exponentiation function, returning base raised to power.

The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EDOM
The argument base is negative and power is not an integral value. Mathematically, the result would be a complex number in this case.
ERANGE
An underflow or overflow condition was detected in the result.

Function: double sqrt (double x)
This function returns the nonnegative square root of x.

The sqrt function fails, and sets errno to EDOM, if x is negative. Mathematically, the square root would be a complex number.

Function: double cbrt (double x)
This function returns the cube root of x. This function cannot fail; every representable real value has a representable real cube root.

Function: double hypot (double x, double y)
The hypot function returns sqrt (x*x + y*y). (This is the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle with sides of length x and y, or the distance of the point (x, y) from the origin.) See also the function cabs in section Absolute Value.

Function: double expm1 (double x)
This function returns a value equivalent to exp (x) - 1. It is computed in a way that is accurate even if the value of x is near zero--a case where exp (x) - 1 would be inaccurate due to subtraction of two numbers that are nearly equal.

Function: double log1p (double x)
This function returns a value equivalent to log (1 + x). It is computed in a way that is accurate even if the value of x is near zero.

Hyperbolic Functions

The functions in this section are related to the exponential functions; see section Exponentiation and Logarithms.

Function: double sinh (double x)
The sinh function returns the hyperbolic sine of x, defined mathematically as exp (x) - exp (-x) / 2. The function fails, and sets errno to ERANGE, if the value of x is too large; that is, if overflow occurs.

Function: double cosh (double x)
The cosh function returns the hyperbolic cosine of x, defined mathematically as exp (x) + exp (-x) / 2. The function fails, and sets errno to ERANGE, if the value of x is too large; that is, if overflow occurs.

Function: double tanh (double x)
This function returns the hyperbolic tangent of x, whose mathematical definition is sinh (x) / cosh (x).

Function: double asinh (double x)
This function returns the inverse hyperbolic sine of x---the value whose hyperbolic sine is x.

Function: double acosh (double x)
This function returns the inverse hyperbolic cosine of x---the value whose hyperbolic cosine is x. If x is less than 1, acosh returns HUGE_VAL.

Function: double atanh (double x)
This function returns the inverse hyperbolic tangent of x---the value whose hyperbolic tangent is x. If the absolute value of x is greater than or equal to 1, atanh returns HUGE_VAL.

Pseudo-Random Numbers

This section describes the GNU facilities for generating a series of pseudo-random numbers. The numbers generated are not truly random; typically, they form a sequence that repeats periodically, with a period so large that you can ignore it for ordinary purposes. The random number generator works by remembering at all times a seed value which it uses to compute the next random number and also to compute a new seed.

Although the generated numbers look unpredictable within one run of a program, the sequence of numbers is exactly the same from one run to the next. This is because the initial seed is always the same. This is convenient when you are debugging a program, but it is unhelpful if you want the program to behave unpredictably. If you want truly random numbers, not just pseudo-random, specify a seed based on the current time.

You can get repeatable sequences of numbers on a particular machine type by specifying the same initial seed value for the random number generator. There is no standard meaning for a particular seed value; the same seed, used in different C libraries or on different CPU types, will give you different random numbers.

The GNU library supports the standard ISO C random number functions plus another set derived from BSD. We recommend you use the standard ones, rand and srand.

ISO C Random Number Functions

This section describes the random number functions that are part of the ISO C standard.

To use these facilities, you should include the header file `stdlib.h' in your program.

Macro: int RAND_MAX
The value of this macro is an integer constant expression that represents the maximum possible value returned by the rand function. In the GNU library, it is 037777777, which is the largest signed integer representable in 32 bits. In other libraries, it may be as low as 32767.

Function: int rand ()
The rand function returns the next pseudo-random number in the series. The value is in the range from 0 to RAND_MAX.

Function: void srand (unsigned int seed)
This function establishes seed as the seed for a new series of pseudo-random numbers. If you call rand before a seed has been established with srand, it uses the value 1 as a default seed.

To produce truly random numbers (not just pseudo-random), do srand (time (0)).

BSD Random Number Functions

This section describes a set of random number generation functions that are derived from BSD. There is no advantage to using these functions with the GNU C library; we support them for BSD compatibility only.

The prototypes for these functions are in `stdlib.h'.

Function: long int random ()
This function returns the next pseudo-random number in the sequence. The range of values returned is from 0 to RAND_MAX.

Function: void srandom (unsigned int seed)
The srandom function sets the seed for the current random number state based on the integer seed. If you supply a seed value of 1, this will cause random to reproduce the default set of random numbers.

To produce truly random numbers (not just pseudo-random), do srandom (time (0)).

Function: void * initstate (unsigned int seed, void *state, size_t size)
The initstate function is used to initialize the random number generator state. The argument state is an array of size bytes, used to hold the state information. The size must be at least 8 bytes, and optimal sizes are 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, and 256. The bigger the state array, the better.

The return value is the previous value of the state information array. You can use this value later as an argument to setstate to restore that state.

Function: void * setstate (void *state)
The setstate function restores the random number state information state. The argument must have been the result of a previous call to initstate or setstate.

The return value is the previous value of the state information array. You can use thise value later as an argument to setstate to restore that state.

Low-Level Arithmetic Functions

This chapter contains information about functions for doing basic arithmetic operations, such as splitting a float into its integer and fractional parts. These functions are declared in the header file `math.h'.

"Not a Number" Values

The IEEE floating point format used by most modern computers supports values that are "not a number". These values are called NaNs. "Not a number" values result from certain operations which have no meaningful numeric result, such as zero divided by zero or infinity divided by infinity.

One noteworthy property of NaNs is that they are not equal to themselves. Thus, x == x can be 0 if the value of x is a NaN. You can use this to test whether a value is a NaN or not: if it is not equal to itself, then it is a NaN. But the recommended way to test for a NaN is with the isnan function (see section Predicates on Floats).

Almost any arithmetic operation in which one argument is a NaN returns a NaN.

Macro: double NAN
An expression representing a value which is "not a number". This macro is a GNU extension, available only on machines that support "not a number" values--that is to say, on all machines that support IEEE floating point.

You can use `#ifdef NAN' to test whether the machine supports NaNs. (Of course, you must arrange for GNU extensions to be visible, such as by defining _GNU_SOURCE, and then you must include `math.h'.)

Predicates on Floats

This section describes some miscellaneous test functions on doubles. Prototypes for these functions appear in `math.h'. These are BSD functions, and thus are available if you define _BSD_SOURCE or _GNU_SOURCE.

Function: int isinf (double x)
This function returns -1 if x represents negative infinity, 1 if x represents positive infinity, and 0 otherwise.

Function: int isnan (double x)
This function returns a nonzero value if x is a "not a number" value, and zero otherwise. (You can just as well use x != x to get the same result).

Function: int finite (double x)
This function returns a nonzero value if x is finite or a "not a number" value, and zero otherwise.

Function: double infnan (int error)
This function is provided for compatibility with BSD. The other mathematical functions use infnan to decide what to return on occasion of an error. Its argument is an error code, EDOM or ERANGE; infnan returns a suitable value to indicate this with. -ERANGE is also acceptable as an argument, and corresponds to -HUGE_VAL as a value.

In the BSD library, on certain machines, infnan raises a fatal signal in all cases. The GNU library does not do likewise, because that does not fit the ISO C specification.

Portability Note: The functions listed in this section are BSD extensions.

Absolute Value

These functions are provided for obtaining the absolute value (or magnitude) of a number. The absolute value of a real number x is x is x is positive, -x if x is negative. For a complex number z, whose real part is x and whose imaginary part is y, the absolute value is sqrt (x*x + y*y).

Prototypes for abs and labs are in `stdlib.h'; fabs and cabs are declared in `math.h'.

Function: int abs (int number)
This function returns the absolute value of number.

Most computers use a two's complement integer representation, in which the absolute value of INT_MIN (the smallest possible int) cannot be represented; thus, abs (INT_MIN) is not defined.

Function: long int labs (long int number)
This is similar to abs, except that both the argument and result are of type long int rather than int.

Function: double fabs (double number)
This function returns the absolute value of the floating-point number number.

Function: double cabs (struct { double real, imag; } z)
The cabs function returns the absolute value of the complex number z, whose real part is z.real and whose imaginary part is z.imag. (See also the function hypot in section Exponentiation and Logarithms.) The value is:

sqrt (z.real*z.real + z.imag*z.imag)

Normalization Functions

The functions described in this section are primarily provided as a way to efficiently perform certain low-level manipulations on floating point numbers that are represented internally using a binary radix; see section Floating Point Representation Concepts. These functions are required to have equivalent behavior even if the representation does not use a radix of 2, but of course they are unlikely to be particularly efficient in those cases.

All these functions are declared in `math.h'.

Function: double frexp (double value, int *exponent)
The frexp function is used to split the number value into a normalized fraction and an exponent.

If the argument value is not zero, the return value is value times a power of two, and is always in the range 1/2 (inclusive) to 1 (exclusive). The corresponding exponent is stored in *exponent; the return value multiplied by 2 raised to this exponent equals the original number value.

For example, frexp (12.8, &exponent) returns 0.8 and stores 4 in exponent.

If value is zero, then the return value is zero and zero is stored in *exponent.

Function: double ldexp (double value, int exponent)
This function returns the result of multiplying the floating-point number value by 2 raised to the power exponent. (It can be used to reassemble floating-point numbers that were taken apart by frexp.)

For example, ldexp (0.8, 4) returns 12.8.

The following functions which come from BSD provide facilities equivalent to those of ldexp and frexp:

Function: double scalb (double value, int exponent)
The scalb function is the BSD name for ldexp.

Function: double logb (double x)
This BSD function returns the integer part of the base-2 logarithm of x, an integer value represented in type double. This is the highest integer power of 2 contained in x. The sign of x is ignored. For example, logb (3.5) is 1.0 and logb (4.0) is 2.0.

When 2 raised to this power is divided into x, it gives a quotient between 1 (inclusive) and 2 (exclusive).

If x is zero, the value is minus infinity (if the machine supports such a value), or else a very small number. If x is infinity, the value is infinity.

The value returned by logb is one less than the value that frexp would store into *exponent.

Function: double copysign (double value, double sign)
The copysign function returns a value whose absolute value is the same as that of value, and whose sign matches that of sign. This is a BSD function.

Rounding and Remainder Functions

The functions listed here perform operations such as rounding, truncation, and remainder in division of floating point numbers. Some of these functions convert floating point numbers to integer values. They are all declared in `math.h'.

You can also convert floating-point numbers to integers simply by casting them to int. This discards the fractional part, effectively rounding towards zero. However, this only works if the result can actually be represented as an int---for very large numbers, this is impossible. The functions listed here return the result as a double instead to get around this problem.

Function: double ceil (double x)
The ceil function rounds x upwards to the nearest integer, returning that value as a double. Thus, ceil (1.5) is 2.0.

Function: double floor (double x)
The ceil function rounds x downwards to the nearest integer, returning that value as a double. Thus, floor (1.5) is 1.0 and floor (-1.5) is -2.0.

Function: double rint (double x)
This function rounds x to an integer value according to the current rounding mode. See section Floating Point Parameters, for information about the various rounding modes. The default rounding mode is to round to the nearest integer; some machines support other modes, but round-to-nearest is always used unless you explicit select another.

Function: double modf (double value, double *integer-part)
This function breaks the argument value into an integer part and a fractional part (between -1 and 1, exclusive). Their sum equals value. Each of the parts has the same sign as value, so the rounding of the integer part is towards zero.

modf stores the integer part in *integer-part, and returns the fractional part. For example, modf (2.5, &intpart) returns 0.5 and stores 2.0 into intpart.

Function: double fmod (double numerator, double denominator)
This function computes the remainder from the division of numerator by denominator. Specifically, the return value is numerator - n * denominator, where n is the quotient of numerator divided by denominator, rounded towards zero to an integer. Thus, fmod (6.5, 2.3) returns 1.9, which is 6.5 minus 4.6.

The result has the same sign as the numerator and has magnitude less than the magnitude of the denominator.

If denominator is zero, fmod fails and sets errno to EDOM.

Function: double drem (double numerator, double denominator)
The function drem is like fmod except that it rounds the internal quotient n to the nearest integer instead of towards zero to an integer. For example, drem (6.5, 2.3) returns -0.4, which is 6.5 minus 6.9.

The absolute value of the result is less than or equal to half the absolute value of the denominator. The difference between fmod (numerator, denominator) and drem (numerator, denominator) is always either denominator, minus denominator, or zero.

If denominator is zero, drem fails and sets errno to EDOM.

Integer Division

This section describes functions for performing integer division. These functions are redundant in the GNU C library, since in GNU C the `/' operator always rounds towards zero. But in other C implementations, `/' may round differently with negative arguments. div and ldiv are useful because they specify how to round the quotient: towards zero. The remainder has the same sign as the numerator.

These functions are specified to return a result r such that the value r.quot*denominator + r.rem equals numerator.

To use these facilities, you should include the header file `stdlib.h' in your program.

Data Type: div_t
This is a structure type used to hold the result returned by the div function. It has the following members:

int quot
The quotient from the division.
int rem
The remainder from the division.

Function: div_t div (int numerator, int denominator)
This function div computes the quotient and remainder from the division of numerator by denominator, returning the result in a structure of type div_t.

If the result cannot be represented (as in a division by zero), the behavior is undefined.

Here is an example, albeit not a very useful one.

div_t result;
result = div (20, -6);

Now result.quot is -3 and result.rem is 2.

Data Type: ldiv_t
This is a structure type used to hold the result returned by the ldiv function. It has the following members:

long int quot
The quotient from the division.
long int rem
The remainder from the division.

(This is identical to div_t except that the components are of type long int rather than int.)

Function: ldiv_t ldiv (long int numerator, long int denominator)
The ldiv function is similar to div, except that the arguments are of type long int and the result is returned as a structure of type ldiv.

Parsing of Numbers

This section describes functions for "reading" integer and floating-point numbers from a string. It may be more convenient in some cases to use sscanf or one of the related functions; see section Formatted Input. But often you can make a program more robust by finding the tokens in the string by hand, then converting the numbers one by one.

Parsing of Integers

These functions are declared in `stdlib.h'.

Function: long int strtol (const char *string, char **tailptr, int base)
The strtol ("string-to-long") function converts the initial part of string to a signed integer, which is returned as a value of type long int.

This function attempts to decompose string as follows:

  • A (possibly empty) sequence of whitespace characters. Which characters are whitespace is determined by the isspace function (see section Classification of Characters). These are discarded.
  • An optional plus or minus sign (`+' or `-').
  • A nonempty sequence of digits in the radix specified by base. If base is zero, decimal radix is assumed unless the series of digits begins with `0' (specifying octal radix), or `0x' or `0X' (specifying hexadecimal radix); in other words, the same syntax used for integer constants in C. Otherwise base must have a value between 2 and 35. If base is 16, the digits may optionally be preceded by `0x' or `0X'. If base has no legal value the value returned is 0l and the global variable errno is set to EINVAL.
  • Any remaining characters in the string. If tailptr is not a null pointer, strtol stores a pointer to this tail in *tailptr.

If the string is empty, contains only whitespace, or does not contain an initial substring that has the expected syntax for an integer in the specified base, no conversion is performed. In this case, strtol returns a value of zero and the value stored in *tailptr is the value of string.

In a locale other than the standard "C" locale, this function may recognize additional implementation-dependent syntax.

If the string has valid syntax for an integer but the value is not representable because of overflow, strtol returns either LONG_MAX or LONG_MIN (see section Range of an Integer Type), as appropriate for the sign of the value. It also sets errno to ERANGE to indicate there was overflow.

Because the value 0l is a correct result for strtol the user who is interested in handling errors should set the global variable errno to 0 before calling this function, so that the program can later test whether an error occurred.

There is an example at the end of this section.

Function: unsigned long int strtoul (const char *string, char **tailptr, int base)
The strtoul ("string-to-unsigned-long") function is like strtol except it deals with unsigned numbers, and returns its value with type unsigned long int. No `+' or `-' sign may appear before the number, but the syntax is otherwise the same as described above for strtol. The value returned in case of overflow is ULONG_MAX (see section Range of an Integer Type).

Like strtol this function sets errno and returns the value 0ul in case the value for base is not in the legal range. For strtoul this can happen in another situation. In case the number to be converted is negative strtoul also sets errno to EINVAL and returns 0ul.

Function: long long int strtoq (const char *string, char **tailptr, int base)
The strtoq ("string-to-quad-word") function is like strtol except that is deals with extra long numbers and it returns its value with type long long int.

If the string has valid syntax for an integer but the value is not representable because of overflow, strtoq returns either LONG_LONG_MAX or LONG_LONG_MIN (see section Range of an Integer Type), as appropriate for the sign of the value. It also sets errno to ERANGE to indicate there was overflow.

Function: long long int strtoll (const char *string, char **tailptr, int base)
strtoll is only an commonly used other name for the strtoq function. Everything said for strtoq applies to strtoll as well.

Function: unsigned long long int strtouq (const char *string, char **tailptr, int base)
The strtouq ("string-to-unsigned-quad-word") function is like strtoul except that is deals with extra long numbers and it returns its value with type unsigned long long int. The value returned in case of overflow is ULONG_LONG_MAX (see section Range of an Integer Type).

Function: unsigned long long int strtoull (const char *string, char **tailptr, int base)
strtoull is only an commonly used other name for the strtouq function. Everything said for strtouq applies to strtoull as well.

Function: long int atol (const char *string)
This function is similar to the strtol function with a base argument of 10, except that it need not detect overflow errors. The atol function is provided mostly for compatibility with existing code; using strtol is more robust.

Function: int atoi (const char *string)
This function is like atol, except that it returns an int value rather than long int. The atoi function is also considered obsolete; use strtol instead.

The POSIX locales contain some information about how to format numbers (see section Generic Numeric Formatting Parameters). This mainly deals with representing numbers for better readability for humans. The functions present so far in this section cannot handle numbers in this form.

If this functionality is needed in a program one can use the functions from the scanf family which know about the flag `'' for parsing numeric input (see section Numeric Input Conversions). Sometimes it is more desirable to have finer control.

In these situation one could use the function __strtoXXX_internal. XXX here stands for any of the above forms. All numeric conversion functions (including the functions to process floating-point numbers) have such a counterpart. The difference to the normal form is the extra argument at the end of the parameter list. If this value has an non-zero value the handling of number grouping is enabled. The advantage of using these functions is that the tailptr parameters allow to determine which part of the input is processed. The scanf functions don't provide this information. The drawback of using these functions is that they are not portable. They only exist in the GNU C library.

Here is a function which parses a string as a sequence of integers and returns the sum of them:

int
sum_ints_from_string (char *string)
{
  int sum = 0;

  while (1) {
    char *tail;
    int next;

    /* Skip whitespace by hand, to detect the end.  */
    while (isspace (*string)) string++;
    if (*string == 0)
      break;

    /* There is more nonwhitespace,  */
    /* so it ought to be another number.  */
    errno = 0;
    /* Parse it.  */
    next = strtol (string, &tail, 0);
    /* Add it in, if not overflow.  */
    if (errno)
      printf ("Overflow\n");
    else
      sum += next;
    /* Advance past it.  */
    string = tail;
  }

  return sum;
}

Parsing of Floats

These functions are declared in `stdlib.h'.

Function: double strtod (const char *string, char **tailptr)
The strtod ("string-to-double") function converts the initial part of string to a floating-point number, which is returned as a value of type double.

This function attempts to decompose string as follows:

  • A (possibly empty) sequence of whitespace characters. Which characters are whitespace is determined by the isspace function (see section Classification of Characters). These are discarded.
  • An optional plus or minus sign (`+' or `-').
  • A nonempty sequence of digits optionally containing a decimal-point character--normally `.', but it depends on the locale (see section Numeric Formatting).
  • An optional exponent part, consisting of a character `e' or `E', an optional sign, and a sequence of digits.
  • Any remaining characters in the string. If tailptr is not a null pointer, a pointer to this tail of the string is stored in *tailptr.

If the string is empty, contains only whitespace, or does not contain an initial substring that has the expected syntax for a floating-point number, no conversion is performed. In this case, strtod returns a value of zero and the value returned in *tailptr is the value of string.

In a locale other than the standard "C" or "POSIX" locales, this function may recognize additional locale-dependent syntax.

If the string has valid syntax for a floating-point number but the value is not representable because of overflow, strtod returns either positive or negative HUGE_VAL (see section Mathematics), depending on the sign of the value. Similarly, if the value is not representable because of underflow, strtod returns zero. It also sets errno to ERANGE if there was overflow or underflow.

Since the value zero which is returned in the error case is also a valid result the user should set the global variable errno to zero before calling this function. So one can test for failures after the call since all failures set errno to a non-zero value.

Function: float strtof (const char *string, char **tailptr)
This function is similar to the strtod function but it returns a float value instead of a double value. If the precision of a float value is sufficient this function should be used since it is much faster than strtod on some architectures. The reasons are obvious: IEEE 754 defines float to have a mantissa of 23 bits while double has 53 bits and every additional bit of precision can require additional computation.

If the string has valid syntax for a floating-point number but the value is not representable because of overflow, strtof returns either positive or negative HUGE_VALf (see section Mathematics), depending on the sign of the value.

This function is a GNU extension.

Function: long double strtold (const char *string, char **tailptr)
This function is similar to the strtod function but it returns a long double value instead of a double value. It should be used when high precision is needed. On systems which define a long double type (i.e., on which it is not the same as double) running this function might take significantly more time since more bits of precision are required.

If the string has valid syntax for a floating-point number but the value is not representable because of overflow, strtold returns either positive or negative HUGE_VALl (see section Mathematics), depending on the sign of the value.

This function is a GNU extension.

As for the integer parsing functions there are additional functions which will handle numbers represented using the grouping scheme of the current locale (see section Parsing of Integers).

Function: double atof (const char *string)
This function is similar to the strtod function, except that it need not detect overflow and underflow errors. The atof function is provided mostly for compatibility with existing code; using strtod is more robust.

Searching and Sorting

This chapter describes functions for searching and sorting arrays of arbitrary objects. You pass the appropriate comparison function to be applied as an argument, along with the size of the objects in the array and the total number of elements.

Defining the Comparison Function

In order to use the sorted array library functions, you have to describe how to compare the elements of the array.

To do this, you supply a comparison function to compare two elements of the array. The library will call this function, passing as arguments pointers to two array elements to be compared. Your comparison function should return a value the way strcmp (see section String/Array Comparison) does: negative if the first argument is "less" than the second, zero if they are "equal", and positive if the first argument is "greater".

Here is an example of a comparison function which works with an array of numbers of type double:

int
compare_doubles (const double *a, const double *b)
{
  return (int) (*a - *b);
}

The header file `stdlib.h' defines a name for the data type of comparison functions. This type is a GNU extension.

int comparison_fn_t (const void *, const void *);

Array Search Function

To search a sorted array for an element matching the key, use the bsearch function. The prototype for this function is in the header file `stdlib.h'.

Function: void * bsearch (const void *key, const void *array, size_t count, size_t size, comparison_fn_t compare)
The bsearch function searches the sorted array array for an object that is equivalent to key. The array contains count elements, each of which is of size size bytes.

The compare function is used to perform the comparison. This function is called with two pointer arguments and should return an integer less than, equal to, or greater than zero corresponding to whether its first argument is considered less than, equal to, or greater than its second argument. The elements of the array must already be sorted in ascending order according to this comparison function.

The return value is a pointer to the matching array element, or a null pointer if no match is found. If the array contains more than one element that matches, the one that is returned is unspecified.

This function derives its name from the fact that it is implemented using the binary search algorithm.

Array Sort Function

To sort an array using an arbitrary comparison function, use the qsort function. The prototype for this function is in `stdlib.h'.

Function: void qsort (void *array, size_t count, size_t size, comparison_fn_t compare)
The qsort function sorts the array array. The array contains count elements, each of which is of size size.

The compare function is used to perform the comparison on the array elements. This function is called with two pointer arguments and should return an integer less than, equal to, or greater than zero corresponding to whether its first argument is considered less than, equal to, or greater than its second argument.

Warning: If two objects compare as equal, their order after sorting is unpredictable. That is to say, the sorting is not stable. This can make a difference when the comparison considers only part of the elements. Two elements with the same sort key may differ in other respects.

If you want the effect of a stable sort, you can get this result by writing the comparison function so that, lacking other reason distinguish between two elements, it compares them by their addresses. Note that doing this may make the sorting algorithm less efficient, so do it only if necessary.

Here is a simple example of sorting an array of doubles in numerical order, using the comparison function defined above (see section Defining the Comparison Function):

{
  double *array;
  int size;
  ...
  qsort (array, size, sizeof (double), compare_doubles);
}

The qsort function derives its name from the fact that it was originally implemented using the "quick sort" algorithm.

Searching and Sorting Example

Here is an example showing the use of qsort and bsearch with an array of structures. The objects in the array are sorted by comparing their name fields with the strcmp function. Then, we can look up individual objects based on their names.

#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>

/* Define an array of critters to sort. */

struct critter
  {
    const char *name;
    const char *species;
  };

struct critter muppets[] =
  {
    {"Kermit", "frog"},
    {"Piggy", "pig"},
    {"Gonzo", "whatever"},
    {"Fozzie", "bear"},
    {"Sam", "eagle"},
    {"Robin", "frog"},
    {"Animal", "animal"},
    {"Camilla", "chicken"},
    {"Sweetums", "monster"},
    {"Dr. Strangepork", "pig"},
    {"Link Hogthrob", "pig"},
    {"Zoot", "human"},
    {"Dr. Bunsen Honeydew", "human"},
    {"Beaker", "human"},
    {"Swedish Chef", "human"}
  };

int count = sizeof (muppets) / sizeof (struct critter);

/* This is the comparison function used for sorting and searching. */

int 
critter_cmp (const struct critter *c1, const struct critter *c2)
{
  return strcmp (c1->name, c2->name);
}

/* Print information about a critter. */

void 
print_critter (const struct critter *c)
{
  printf ("%s, the %s\n", c->name, c->species);
}

/* Do the lookup into the sorted array. */

void 
find_critter (const char *name)
{
  struct critter target, *result;
  target.name = name;
  result = bsearch (&target, muppets, count, sizeof (struct critter),
                    critter_cmp);
  if (result)
    print_critter (result);
  else
    printf ("Couldn't find %s.\n", name);
}

/* Main program. */

int
main (void)
{
  int i;

  for (i = 0; i < count; i++)
    print_critter (&muppets[i]);
  printf ("\n");

  qsort (muppets, count, sizeof (struct critter), critter_cmp);

  for (i = 0; i < count; i++)
    print_critter (&muppets[i]);
  printf ("\n");

  find_critter ("Kermit");
  find_critter ("Gonzo");
  find_critter ("Janice");

  return 0;
}

The output from this program looks like:

Kermit, the frog
Piggy, the pig
Gonzo, the whatever
Fozzie, the bear
Sam, the eagle
Robin, the frog
Animal, the animal
Camilla, the chicken
Sweetums, the monster
Dr. Strangepork, the pig
Link Hogthrob, the pig
Zoot, the human
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, the human
Beaker, the human
Swedish Chef, the human

Animal, the animal
Beaker, the human
Camilla, the chicken
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, the human
Dr. Strangepork, the pig
Fozzie, the bear
Gonzo, the whatever
Kermit, the frog
Link Hogthrob, the pig
Piggy, the pig
Robin, the frog
Sam, the eagle
Swedish Chef, the human
Sweetums, the monster
Zoot, the human

Kermit, the frog
Gonzo, the whatever
Couldn't find Janice.

Pattern Matching

The GNU C Library provides pattern matching facilities for two kinds of patterns: regular expressions and file-name wildcards. The library also provides a facility for expanding variable and command references and parsing text into words in the way the shell does.

Wildcard Matching

This section describes how to match a wildcard pattern against a particular string. The result is a yes or no answer: does the string fit the pattern or not. The symbols described here are all declared in `fnmatch.h'.

Function: int fnmatch (const char *pattern, const char *string, int flags)
This function tests whether the string string matches the pattern pattern. It returns 0 if they do match; otherwise, it returns the nonzero value FNM_NOMATCH. The arguments pattern and string are both strings.

The argument flags is a combination of flag bits that alter the details of matching. See below for a list of the defined flags.

In the GNU C Library, fnmatch cannot experience an "error"---it always returns an answer for whether the match succeeds. However, other implementations of fnmatch might sometimes report "errors". They would do so by returning nonzero values that are not equal to FNM_NOMATCH.

These are the available flags for the flags argument:

FNM_FILE_NAME
Treat the `/' character specially, for matching file names. If this flag is set, wildcard constructs in pattern cannot match `/' in string. Thus, the only way to match `/' is with an explicit `/' in pattern.
FNM_PATHNAME
This is an alias for FNM_FILE_NAME; it comes from POSIX.2. We don't recommend this name because we don't use the term "pathname" for file names.
FNM_PERIOD
Treat the `.' character specially if it appears at the beginning of string. If this flag is set, wildcard constructs in pattern cannot match `.' as the first character of string. If you set both FNM_PERIOD and FNM_FILE_NAME, then the special treatment applies to `.' following `/' as well as to `.' at the beginning of string. (The shell uses the FNM_PERIOD and FNM_FILE_NAME flags together for matching file names.)
FNM_NOESCAPE
Don't treat the `\' character specially in patterns. Normally, `\' quotes the following character, turning off its special meaning (if any) so that it matches only itself. When quoting is enabled, the pattern `\?' matches only the string `?', because the question mark in the pattern acts like an ordinary character. If you use FNM_NOESCAPE, then `\' is an ordinary character.
FNM_LEADING_DIR
Ignore a trailing sequence of characters starting with a `/' in string; that is to say, test whether string starts with a directory name that pattern matches. If this flag is set, either `foo*' or `foobar' as a pattern would match the string `foobar/frobozz'.
FNM_CASEFOLD
Ignore case in comparing string to pattern.

Globbing

The archetypal use of wildcards is for matching against the files in a directory, and making a list of all the matches. This is called globbing.

You could do this using fnmatch, by reading the directory entries one by one and testing each one with fnmatch. But that would be slow (and complex, since you would have to handle subdirectories by hand).

The library provides a function glob to make this particular use of wildcards convenient. glob and the other symbols in this section are declared in `glob.h'.

Calling glob

The result of globbing is a vector of file names (strings). To return this vector, glob uses a special data type, glob_t, which is a structure. You pass glob the address of the structure, and it fills in the structure's fields to tell you about the results.

Data Type: glob_t
This data type holds a pointer to a word vector. More precisely, it records both the address of the word vector and its size.

gl_pathc
The number of elements in the vector.
gl_pathv
The address of the vector. This field has type char **.
gl_offs
The offset of the first real element of the vector, from its nominal address in the gl_pathv field. Unlike the other fields, this is always an input to glob, rather than an output from it. If you use a nonzero offset, then that many elements at the beginning of the vector are left empty. (The glob function fills them with null pointers.) The gl_offs field is meaningful only if you use the GLOB_DOOFFS flag. Otherwise, the offset is always zero regardless of what is in this field, and the first real element comes at the beginning of the vector.

Function: int glob (const char *pattern, int flags, int (*errfunc) (const char *filename, int error-code), glob_t *vector-ptr)
The function glob does globbing using the pattern pattern in the current directory. It puts the result in a newly allocated vector, and stores the size and address of this vector into *vector-ptr. The argument flags is a combination of bit flags; see section Flags for Globbing, for details of the flags.

The result of globbing is a sequence of file names. The function glob allocates a string for each resulting word, then allocates a vector of type char ** to store the addresses of these strings. The last element of the vector is a null pointer. This vector is called the word vector.

To return this vector, glob stores both its address and its length (number of elements, not counting the terminating null pointer) into *vector-ptr.

Normally, glob sorts the file names alphabetically before returning them. You can turn this off with the flag GLOB_NOSORT if you want to get the information as fast as possible. Usually it's a good idea to let glob sort them--if you process the files in alphabetical order, the users will have a feel for the rate of progress that your application is making.

If glob succeeds, it returns 0. Otherwise, it returns one of these error codes:

GLOB_ABORTED
There was an error opening a directory, and you used the flag GLOB_ERR or your specified errfunc returned a nonzero value. See below for an explanation of the GLOB_ERR flag and errfunc.
GLOB_NOMATCH
The pattern didn't match any existing files. If you use the GLOB_NOCHECK flag, then you never get this error code, because that flag tells glob to pretend that the pattern matched at least one file.
GLOB_NOSPACE
It was impossible to allocate memory to hold the result.

In the event of an error, glob stores information in *vector-ptr about all the matches it has found so far.

Flags for Globbing

This section describes the flags that you can specify in the flags argument to glob. Choose the flags you want, and combine them with the C bitwise OR operator |.

GLOB_APPEND
Append the words from this expansion to the vector of words produced by previous calls to glob. This way you can effectively expand several words as if they were concatenated with spaces between them. In order for appending to work, you must not modify the contents of the word vector structure between calls to glob. And, if you set GLOB_DOOFFS in the first call to glob, you must also set it when you append to the results. Note that the pointer stored in gl_pathv may no longer be valid after you call glob the second time, because glob might have relocated the vector. So always fetch gl_pathv from the glob_t structure after each glob call; never save the pointer across calls.
GLOB_DOOFFS
Leave blank slots at the beginning of the vector of words. The gl_offs field says how many slots to leave. The blank slots contain null pointers.
GLOB_ERR
Give up right away and report an error if there is any difficulty reading the directories that must be read in order to expand pattern fully. Such difficulties might include a directory in which you don't have the requisite access. Normally, glob tries its best to keep on going despite any errors, reading whatever directories it can. You can exercise even more control than this by specifying an error-handler function errfunc when you call glob. If errfunc is not a null pointer, then glob doesn't give up right away when it can't read a directory; instead, it calls errfunc with two arguments, like this:
(*errfunc) (filename, error-code)
The argument filename is the name of the directory that glob couldn't open or couldn't read, and error-code is the errno value that was reported to glob. If the error handler function returns nonzero, then glob gives up right away. Otherwise, it continues.
GLOB_MARK
If the pattern matches the name of a directory, append `/' to the directory's name when returning it.
GLOB_NOCHECK
If the pattern doesn't match any file names, return the pattern itself as if it were a file name that had been matched. (Normally, when the pattern doesn't match anything, glob returns that there were no matches.)
GLOB_NOSORT
Don't sort the file names; return them in no particular order. (In practice, the order will depend on the order of the entries in the directory.) The only reason not to sort is to save time.
GLOB_NOESCAPE
Don't treat the `\' character specially in patterns. Normally, `\' quotes the following character, turning off its special meaning (if any) so that it matches only itself. When quoting is enabled, the pattern `\?' matches only the string `?', because the question mark in the pattern acts like an ordinary character. If you use GLOB_NOESCAPE, then `\' is an ordinary character. glob does its work by calling the function fnmatch repeatedly. It handles the flag GLOB_NOESCAPE by turning on the FNM_NOESCAPE flag in calls to fnmatch.

Regular Expression Matching

The GNU C library supports two interfaces for matching regular expressions. One is the standard POSIX.2 interface, and the other is what the GNU system has had for many years.

Both interfaces are declared in the header file `regex.h'. If you define _POSIX_C_SOURCE, then only the POSIX.2 functions, structures, and constants are declared.

POSIX Regular Expression Compilation

Before you can actually match a regular expression, you must compile it. This is not true compilation--it produces a special data structure, not machine instructions. But it is like ordinary compilation in that its purpose is to enable you to "execute" the pattern fast. (See section Matching a Compiled POSIX Regular Expression, for how to use the compiled regular expression for matching.)

There is a special data type for compiled regular expressions:

Data Type: regex_t
This type of object holds a compiled regular expression. It is actually a structure. It has just one field that your programs should look at:

re_nsub
This field holds the number of parenthetical subexpressions in the regular expression that was compiled.

There are several other fields, but we don't describe them here, because only the functions in the library should use them.

After you create a regex_t object, you can compile a regular expression into it by calling regcomp.

Function: int regcomp (regex_t *compiled, const char *pattern, int cflags)
The function regcomp "compiles" a regular expression into a data structure that you can use with regexec to match against a string. The compiled regular expression format is designed for efficient matching. regcomp stores it into *compiled.

It's up to you to allocate an object of type regex_t and pass its address to regcomp.

The argument cflags lets you specify various options that control the syntax and semantics of regular expressions. See section Flags for POSIX Regular Expressions.

If you use the flag REG_NOSUB, then regcomp omits from the compiled regular expression the information necessary to record how subexpressions actually match. In this case, you might as well pass 0 for the matchptr and nmatch arguments when you call regexec.

If you don't use REG_NOSUB, then the compiled regular expression does have the capacity to record how subexpressions match. Also, regcomp tells you how many subexpressions pattern has, by storing the number in compiled->re_nsub. You can use that value to decide how long an array to allocate to hold information about subexpression matches.

regcomp returns 0 if it succeeds in compiling the regular expression; otherwise, it returns a nonzero error code (see the table below). You can use regerror to produce an error message string describing the reason for a nonzero value; see section POSIX Regexp Matching Cleanup.

Here are the possible nonzero values that regcomp can return:

REG_BADBR
There was an invalid `\{...\}' construct in the regular expression. A valid `\{...\}' construct must contain either a single number, or two numbers in increasing order separated by a comma.
REG_BADPAT
There was a syntax error in the regular expression.
REG_BADRPT
A repetition operator such as `?' or `*' appeared in a bad position (with no preceding subexpression to act on).
REG_ECOLLATE
The regular expression referred to an invalid collating element (one not defined in the current locale for string collation). See section Categories of Activities that Locales Affect.
REG_ECTYPE
The regular expression referred to an invalid character class name.
REG_EESCAPE
The regular expression ended with `\'.
REG_ESUBREG
There was an invalid number in the `\digit' construct.
REG_EBRACK
There were unbalanced square brackets in the regular expression.
REG_EPAREN
An extended regular expression had unbalanced parentheses, or a basic regular expression had unbalanced `\(' and `\)'.
REG_EBRACE
The regular expression had unbalanced `\{' and `\}'.
REG_ERANGE
One of the endpoints in a range expression was invalid.
REG_ESPACE
regcomp ran out of memory.

Flags for POSIX Regular Expressions

These are the bit flags that you can use in the cflags operand when compiling a regular expression with regcomp.

REG_EXTENDED
Treat the pattern as an extended regular expression, rather than as a basic regular expression.
REG_ICASE
Ignore case when matching letters.
REG_NOSUB
Don't bother storing the contents of the matches-ptr array.
REG_NEWLINE
Treat a newline in string as dividing string into multiple lines, so that `$' can match before the newline and `^' can match after. Also, don't permit `.' to match a newline, and don't permit `[^...]' to match a newline. Otherwise, newline acts like any other ordinary character.

Matching a Compiled POSIX Regular Expression

Once you have compiled a regular expression, as described in section POSIX Regular Expression Compilation, you can match it against strings using regexec. A match anywhere inside the string counts as success, unless the regular expression contains anchor characters (`^' or `$').

Function: int regexec (regex_t *compiled, char *string, size_t nmatch, regmatch_t matchptr [], int eflags)
This function tries to match the compiled regular expression *compiled against string.

regexec returns 0 if the regular expression matches; otherwise, it returns a nonzero value. See the table below for what nonzero values mean. You can use regerror to produce an error message string describing the reason for a nonzero value; see section POSIX Regexp Matching Cleanup.

The argument eflags is a word of bit flags that enable various options.

If you want to get information about what part of string actually matched the regular expression or its subexpressions, use the arguments matchptr and nmatch. Otherwise, pass 0 for nmatch, and NULL for matchptr. See section Match Results with Subexpressions.

You must match the regular expression with the same set of current locales that were in effect when you compiled the regular expression.

The function regexec accepts the following flags in the eflags argument:

REG_NOTBOL
Do not regard the beginning of the specified string as the beginning of a line; more generally, don't make any assumptions about what text might precede it.
REG_NOTEOL
Do not regard the end of the specified string as the end of a line; more generally, don't make any assumptions about what text might follow it.

Here are the possible nonzero values that regexec can return:

REG_NOMATCH
The pattern didn't match the string. This isn't really an error.
REG_ESPACE
regexec ran out of memory.

Match Results with Subexpressions

When regexec matches parenthetical subexpressions of pattern, it records which parts of string they match. It returns that information by storing the offsets into an array whose elements are structures of type regmatch_t. The first element of the array (index 0) records the part of the string that matched the entire regular expression. Each other element of the array records the beginning and end of the part that matched a single parenthetical subexpression.

Data Type: regmatch_t
This is the data type of the matcharray array that you pass to regexec. It contains two structure fields, as follows:

rm_so
The offset in string of the beginning of a substring. Add this value to string to get the address of that part.
rm_eo
The offset in string of the end of the substring.

Data Type: regoff_t
regoff_t is an alias for another signed integer type. The fields of regmatch_t have type regoff_t.

The regmatch_t elements correspond to subexpressions positionally; the first element (index 1) records where the first subexpression matched, the second element records the second subexpression, and so on. The order of the subexpressions is the order in which they begin.

When you call regexec, you specify how long the matchptr array is, with the nmatch argument. This tells regexec how many elements to store. If the actual regular expression has more than nmatch subexpressions, then you won't get offset information about the rest of them. But this doesn't alter whether the pattern matches a particular string or not.

If you don't want regexec to return any information about where the subexpressions matched, you can either supply 0 for nmatch, or use the flag REG_NOSUB when you compile the pattern with regcomp.

Complications in Subexpression Matching

Sometimes a subexpression matches a substring of no characters. This happens when `f\(o*\)' matches the string `fum'. (It really matches just the `f'.) In this case, both of the offsets identify the point in the string where the null substring was found. In this example, the offsets are both 1.

Sometimes the entire regular expression can match without using some of its subexpressions at all--for example, when `ba\(na\)*' matches the string `ba', the parenthetical subexpression is not used. When this happens, regexec stores -1 in both fields of the element for that subexpression.

Sometimes matching the entire regular expression can match a particular subexpression more than once--for example, when `ba\(na\)*' matches the string `bananana', the parenthetical subexpression matches three times. When this happens, regexec usually stores the offsets of the last part of the string that matched the subexpression. In the case of `bananana', these offsets are 6 and 8.

But the last match is not always the one that is chosen. It's more accurate to say that the last opportunity to match is the one that takes precedence. What this means is that when one subexpression appears within another, then the results reported for the inner subexpression reflect whatever happened on the last match of the outer subexpression. For an example, consider `\(ba\(na\)*s \)*' matching the string `bananas bas '. The last time the inner expression actually matches is near the end of the first word. But it is considered again in the second word, and fails to match there. regexec reports nonuse of the "na" subexpression.

Another place where this rule applies is when the regular expression `\(ba\(na\)*s \|nefer\(ti\)* \)*' matches `bananas nefertiti'. The "na" subexpression does match in the first word, but it doesn't match in the second word because the other alternative is used there. Once again, the second repetition of the outer subexpression overrides the first, and within that second repetition, the "na" subexpression is not used. So regexec reports nonuse of the "na" subexpression.

POSIX Regexp Matching Cleanup

When you are finished using a compiled regular expression, you can free the storage it uses by calling regfree.

Function: void regfree (regex_t *compiled)
Calling regfree frees all the storage that *compiled points to. This includes various internal fields of the regex_t structure that aren't documented in this manual.

regfree does not free the object *compiled itself.

You should always free the space in a regex_t structure with regfree before using the structure to compile another regular expression.

When regcomp or regexec reports an error, you can use the function regerror to turn it into an error message string.

Function: size_t regerror (int errcode, regex_t *compiled, char *buffer, size_t length)
This function produces an error message string for the error code errcode, and stores the string in length bytes of memory starting at buffer. For the compiled argument, supply the same compiled regular expression structure that regcomp or regexec was working with when it got the error. Alternatively, you can supply NULL for compiled; you will still get a meaningful error message, but it might not be as detailed.

If the error message can't fit in length bytes (including a terminating null character), then regerror truncates it. The string that regerror stores is always null-terminated even if it has been truncated.

The return value of regerror is the minimum length needed to store the entire error message. If this is less than length, then the error message was not truncated, and you can use it. Otherwise, you should call regerror again with a larger buffer.

Here is a function which uses regerror, but always dynamically allocates a buffer for the error message:

char *get_regerror (int errcode, regex_t *compiled)
{
  size_t length = regerror (errcode, compiled, NULL, 0);
  char *buffer = xmalloc (length);
  (void) regerror (errcode, compiled, buffer, length);
  return buffer;
}

Shell-Style Word Expansion

Word expansion means the process of splitting a string into words and substituting for variables, commands, and wildcards just as the shell does.

For example, when you write `ls -l foo.c', this string is split into three separate words---`ls', `-l' and `foo.c'. This is the most basic function of word expansion.

When you write `ls *.c', this can become many words, because the word `*.c' can be replaced with any number of file names. This is called wildcard expansion, and it is also a part of word expansion.

When you use `echo $PATH' to print your path, you are taking advantage of variable substitution, which is also part of word expansion.

Ordinary programs can perform word expansion just like the shell by calling the library function wordexp.

The Stages of Word Expansion

When word expansion is applied to a sequence of words, it performs the following transformations in the order shown here:

  1. Tilde expansion: Replacement of `~foo' with the name of the home directory of `foo'.
  2. Next, three different transformations are applied in the same step, from left to right:
    • Variable substitution: Environment variables are substituted for references such as `$foo'.
    • Command substitution: Constructs such as ``cat foo`' and the equivalent `$(cat foo)' are replaced with the output from the inner command.
    • Arithmetic expansion: Constructs such as `$(($x-1))' are replaced with the result of the arithmetic computation.
  3. Field splitting: subdivision of the text into words.
  4. Wildcard expansion: The replacement of a construct such as `*.c' with a list of `.c' file names. Wildcard expansion applies to an entire word at a time, and replaces that word with 0 or more file names that are themselves words.
  5. Quote removal: The deletion of string-quotes, now that they have done their job by inhibiting the above transformations when appropriate.

For the details of these transformations, and how to write the constructs that use them, see The BASH Manual (to appear).

Calling wordexp

All the functions, constants and data types for word expansion are declared in the header file `wordexp.h'.

Word expansion produces a vector of words (strings). To return this vector, wordexp uses a special data type, wordexp_t, which is a structure. You pass wordexp the address of the structure, and it fills in the structure's fields to tell you about the results.

Data Type: wordexp_t
This data type holds a pointer to a word vector. More precisely, it records both the address of the word vector and its size.

we_wordc
The number of elements in the vector.
we_wordv
The address of the vector. This field has type char **.
we_offs
The offset of the first real element of the vector, from its nominal address in the we_wordv field. Unlike the other fields, this is always an input to wordexp, rather than an output from it. If you use a nonzero offset, then that many elements at the beginning of the vector are left empty. (The wordexp function fills them with null pointers.) The we_offs field is meaningful only if you use the WRDE_DOOFFS flag. Otherwise, the offset is always zero regardless of what is in this field, and the first real element comes at the beginning of the vector.

Function: int wordexp (const char *words, wordexp_t *word-vector-ptr, int flags)
Perform word expansion on the string words, putting the result in a newly allocated vector, and store the size and address of this vector into *word-vector-ptr. The argument flags is a combination of bit flags; see section Flags for Word Expansion, for details of the flags.

You shouldn't use any of the characters `|&;<>' in the string words unless they are quoted; likewise for newline. If you use these characters unquoted, you will get the WRDE_BADCHAR error code. Don't use parentheses or braces unless they are quoted or part of a word expansion construct. If you use quotation characters `'"`', they should come in pairs that balance.

The results of word expansion are a sequence of words. The function wordexp allocates a string for each resulting word, then allocates a vector of type char ** to store the addresses of these strings. The last element of the vector is a null pointer. This vector is called the word vector.

To return this vector, wordexp stores both its address and its length (number of elements, not counting the terminating null pointer) into *word-vector-ptr.

If wordexp succeeds, it returns 0. Otherwise, it returns one of these error codes:

WRDE_BADCHAR
The input string words contains an unquoted invalid character such as `|'.
WRDE_BADVAL
The input string refers to an undefined shell variable, and you used the flag WRDE_UNDEF to forbid such references.
WRDE_CMDSUB
The input string uses command substitution, and you used the flag WRDE_NOCMD to forbid command substitution.
WRDE_NOSPACE
It was impossible to allocate memory to hold the result. In this case, wordexp can store part of the results--as much as it could allocate room for.
WRDE_SYNTAX
There was a syntax error in the input string. For example, an unmatched quoting character is a syntax error.

Function: void wordfree (wordexp_t *word-vector-ptr)
Free the storage used for the word-strings and vector that *word-vector-ptr points to. This does not free the structure *word-vector-ptr itself--only the other data it points to.

Flags for Word Expansion

This section describes the flags that you can specify in the flags argument to wordexp. Choose the flags you want, and combine them with the C operator |.

WRDE_APPEND
Append the words from this expansion to the vector of words produced by previous calls to wordexp. This way you can effectively expand several words as if they were concatenated with spaces between them. In order for appending to work, you must not modify the contents of the word vector structure between calls to wordexp. And, if you set WRDE_DOOFFS in the first call to wordexp, you must also set it when you append to the results.
WRDE_DOOFFS
Leave blank slots at the beginning of the vector of words. The we_offs field says how many slots to leave. The blank slots contain null pointers.
WRDE_NOCMD
Don't do command substitution; if the input requests command substitution, report an error.
WRDE_REUSE
Reuse a word vector made by a previous call to wordexp. Instead of allocating a new vector of words, this call to wordexp will use the vector that already exists (making it larger if necessary). Note that the vector may move, so it is not safe to save an old pointer and use it again after calling wordexp. You must fetch we_pathv anew after each call.
WRDE_SHOWERR
Do show any error messages printed by commands run by command substitution. More precisely, allow these commands to inherit the standard error output stream of the current process. By default, wordexp gives these commands a standard error stream that discards all output.
WRDE_UNDEF
If the input refers to a shell variable that is not defined, report an error.

wordexp Example

Here is an example of using wordexp to expand several strings and use the results to run a shell command. It also shows the use of WRDE_APPEND to concatenate the expansions and of wordfree to free the space allocated by wordexp.

int
expand_and_execute (const char *program, const char *options)
{
  wordexp_t result;
  pid_t pid
  int status, i;

  /* Expand the string for the program to run.  */
  switch (wordexp (program, &result, 0))
    {
    case 0:			/* Successful.  */
      break;
    case WRDE_NOSPACE:
      /* If the error was WRDE_NOSPACE,
         then perhaps part of the result was allocated.  */
      wordfree (&result);
    default:                    /* Some other error.  */
      return -1;
    }

  /* Expand the strings specified for the arguments.  */
  for (i = 0; args[i]; i++)
    {
      if (wordexp (options, &result, WRDE_APPEND))
        {
          wordfree (&result);
          return -1;
        }
    }

  pid = fork ();
  if (pid == 0)
    {
      /* This is the child process.  Execute the command. */
      execv (result.we_wordv[0], result.we_wordv);
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
  else if (pid < 0)
    /* The fork failed.  Report failure.  */
    status = -1;
  else
    /* This is the parent process.  Wait for the child to complete.  */
    if (waitpid (pid, &status, 0) != pid)
      status = -1;

  wordfree (&result);
  return status;
}

In practice, since wordexp is executed by running a subshell, it would be faster to do this by concatenating the strings with spaces between them and running that as a shell command using `sh -c'.

Date and Time

This chapter describes functions for manipulating dates and times, including functions for determining what the current time is and conversion between different time representations.

The time functions fall into three main categories:

Processor Time

If you're trying to optimize your program or measure its efficiency, it's very useful to be able to know how much processor time or CPU time it has used at any given point. Processor time is different from actual wall clock time because it doesn't include any time spent waiting for I/O or when some other process is running. Processor time is represented by the data type clock_t, and is given as a number of clock ticks relative to an arbitrary base time marking the beginning of a single program invocation.

Basic CPU Time Inquiry

To get the elapsed CPU time used by a process, you can use the clock function. This facility is declared in the header file `time.h'.

In typical usage, you call the clock function at the beginning and end of the interval you want to time, subtract the values, and then divide by CLOCKS_PER_SEC (the number of clock ticks per second), like this:

#include <time.h>

clock_t start, end;
double elapsed;

start = clock();
... /* Do the work. */
end = clock();
elapsed = ((double) (end - start)) / CLOCKS_PER_SEC;

Different computers and operating systems vary wildly in how they keep track of processor time. It's common for the internal processor clock to have a resolution somewhere between hundredths and millionths of a second.

In the GNU system, clock_t is equivalent to long int and CLOCKS_PER_SEC is an integer value. But in other systems, both clock_t and the type of the macro CLOCKS_PER_SEC can be either integer or floating-point types. Casting processor time values to double, as in the example above, makes sure that operations such as arithmetic and printing work properly and consistently no matter what the underlying representation is.

Macro: int CLOCKS_PER_SEC
The value of this macro is the number of clock ticks per second measured by the clock function.

Macro: int CLK_TCK
This is an obsolete name for CLOCKS_PER_SEC.

Data Type: clock_t
This is the type of the value returned by the clock function. Values of type clock_t are in units of clock ticks.

Function: clock_t clock (void)
This function returns the elapsed processor time. The base time is arbitrary but doesn't change within a single process. If the processor time is not available or cannot be represented, clock returns the value (clock_t)(-1).

Detailed Elapsed CPU Time Inquiry

The times function returns more detailed information about elapsed processor time in a struct tms object. You should include the header file `sys/times.h' to use this facility.

Data Type: struct tms
The tms structure is used to return information about process times. It contains at least the following members:

clock_t tms_utime
This is the CPU time used in executing the instructions of the calling process.
clock_t tms_stime
This is the CPU time used by the system on behalf of the calling process.
clock_t tms_cutime
This is the sum of the tms_utime values and the tms_cutime values of all terminated child processes of the calling process, whose status has been reported to the parent process by wait or waitpid; see section Process Completion. In other words, it represents the total CPU time used in executing the instructions of all the terminated child processes of the calling process, excluding child processes which have not yet been reported by wait or waitpid.
clock_t tms_cstime
This is similar to tms_cutime, but represents the total CPU time used by the system on behalf of all the terminated child processes of the calling process.

All of the times are given in clock ticks. These are absolute values; in a newly created process, they are all zero. See section Creating a Process.

Function: clock_t times (struct tms *buffer)
The times function stores the processor time information for the calling process in buffer.

The return value is the same as the value of clock(): the elapsed real time relative to an arbitrary base. The base is a constant within a particular process, and typically represents the time since system start-up. A value of (clock_t)(-1) is returned to indicate failure.

Portability Note: The clock function described in section Basic CPU Time Inquiry, is specified by the ISO C standard. The times function is a feature of POSIX.1. In the GNU system, the value returned by the clock function is equivalent to the sum of the tms_utime and tms_stime fields returned by times.

Calendar Time

This section describes facilities for keeping track of dates and times according to the Gregorian calendar.

There are three representations for date and time information:

Simple Calendar Time

This section describes the time_t data type for representing calendar time, and the functions which operate on calendar time objects. These facilities are declared in the header file `time.h'.

Data Type: time_t
This is the data type used to represent calendar time. When interpreted as an absolute time value, it represents the number of seconds elapsed since 00:00:00 on January 1, 1970, Coordinated Universal Time. (This date is sometimes referred to as the epoch.) POSIX requires that this count ignore leap seconds, but on some hosts this count includes leap seconds if you set TZ to certain values (see section Specifying the Time Zone with TZ).

In the GNU C library, time_t is equivalent to long int. In other systems, time_t might be either an integer or floating-point type.

Function: double difftime (time_t time1, time_t time0)
The difftime function returns the number of seconds elapsed between time time1 and time time0, as a value of type double. The difference ignores leap seconds unless leap second support is enabled.

In the GNU system, you can simply subtract time_t values. But on other systems, the time_t data type might use some other encoding where subtraction doesn't work directly.

Function: time_t time (time_t *result)
The time function returns the current time as a value of type time_t. If the argument result is not a null pointer, the time value is also stored in *result. If the calendar time is not available, the value (time_t)(-1) is returned.

High-Resolution Calendar

The time_t data type used to represent calendar times has a resolution of only one second. Some applications need more precision.

So, the GNU C library also contains functions which are capable of representing calendar times to a higher resolution than one second. The functions and the associated data types described in this section are declared in `sys/time.h'.

Data Type: struct timeval
The struct timeval structure represents a calendar time. It has the following members:

long int tv_sec
This represents the number of seconds since the epoch. It is equivalent to a normal time_t value.
long int tv_usec
This is the fractional second value, represented as the number of microseconds. Some times struct timeval values are used for time intervals. Then the tv_sec member is the number of seconds in the interval, and tv_usec is the number of additional microseconds.

Data Type: struct timezone
The struct timezone structure is used to hold minimal information about the local time zone. It has the following members:

int tz_minuteswest
This is the number of minutes west of UTC.
int tz_dsttime
If nonzero, daylight saving time applies during some part of the year.

The struct timezone type is obsolete and should never be used. Instead, use the facilities described in section Functions and Variables for Time Zones.

It is often necessary to subtract two values of type struct timeval. Here is the best way to do this. It works even on some peculiar operating systems where the tv_sec member has an unsigned type.

/* Subtract the `struct timeval' values X and Y,
   storing the result in RESULT.
   Return 1 if the difference is negative, otherwise 0.  */

int
timeval_subtract (result, x, y)
     struct timeval *result, *x, *y;
{
  /* Perform the carry for the later subtraction by updating y. */
  if (x->tv_usec < y->tv_usec) {
    int nsec = (y->tv_usec - x->tv_usec) / 1000000 + 1;
    y->tv_usec -= 1000000 * nsec;
    y->tv_sec += nsec;
  }
  if (x->tv_usec - y->tv_usec > 1000000) {
    int nsec = (y->tv_usec - x->tv_usec) / 1000000;
    y->tv_usec += 1000000 * nsec;
    y->tv_sec -= nsec;
  }

  /* Compute the time remaining to wait.
     tv_usec is certainly positive. */
  result->tv_sec = x->tv_sec - y->tv_sec;
  result->tv_usec = x->tv_usec - y->tv_usec;

  /* Return 1 if result is negative. */
  return x->tv_sec < y->tv_sec;
}

Function: int gettimeofday (struct timeval *tp, struct timezone *tzp)
The gettimeofday function returns the current date and time in the struct timeval structure indicated by tp. Information about the time zone is returned in the structure pointed at tzp. If the tzp argument is a null pointer, time zone information is ignored.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error condition is defined for this function:

ENOSYS
The operating system does not support getting time zone information, and tzp is not a null pointer. The GNU operating system does not support using struct timezone to represent time zone information; that is an obsolete feature of 4.3 BSD. Instead, use the facilities described in section Functions and Variables for Time Zones.

Function: int settimeofday (const struct timeval *tp, const struct timezone *tzp)
The settimeofday function sets the current date and time according to the arguments. As for gettimeofday, time zone information is ignored if tzp is a null pointer.

You must be a privileged user in order to use settimeofday.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EPERM
This process cannot set the time because it is not privileged.
ENOSYS
The operating system does not support setting time zone information, and tzp is not a null pointer.

Function: int adjtime (const struct timeval *delta, struct timeval *olddelta)
This function speeds up or slows down the system clock in order to make gradual adjustments in the current time. This ensures that the time reported by the system clock is always monotonically increasing, which might not happen if you simply set the current time.

The delta argument specifies a relative adjustment to be made to the current time. If negative, the system clock is slowed down for a while until it has lost this much time. If positive, the system clock is speeded up for a while.

If the olddelta argument is not a null pointer, the adjtime function returns information about any previous time adjustment that has not yet completed.

This function is typically used to synchronize the clocks of computers in a local network. You must be a privileged user to use it. The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error condition is defined for this function:

EPERM
You do not have privilege to set the time.

Portability Note: The gettimeofday, settimeofday, and adjtime functions are derived from BSD.

Broken-down Time

Calendar time is represented as a number of seconds. This is convenient for calculation, but has no resemblance to the way people normally represent dates and times. By contrast, broken-down time is a binary representation separated into year, month, day, and so on. Broken down time values are not useful for calculations, but they are useful for printing human readable time.

A broken-down time value is always relative to a choice of local time zone, and it also indicates which time zone was used.

The symbols in this section are declared in the header file `time.h'.

Data Type: struct tm
This is the data type used to represent a broken-down time. The structure contains at least the following members, which can appear in any order:

int tm_sec
This is the number of seconds after the minute, normally in the range 0 through 59. (The actual upper limit is 60, to allow for leap seconds if leap second support is available.)
int tm_min
This is the number of minutes after the hour, in the range 0 through 59.
int tm_hour
This is the number of hours past midnight, in the range 0 through 23.
int tm_mday
This is the day of the month, in the range 1 through 31.
int tm_mon
This is the number of months since January, in the range 0 through 11.
int tm_year
This is the number of years since 1900.
int tm_wday
This is the number of days since Sunday, in the range 0 through 6.
int tm_yday
This is the number of days since January 1, in the range 0 through 365.
int tm_isdst
This is a flag that indicates whether Daylight Saving Time is (or was, or will be) in effect at the time described. The value is positive if Daylight Saving Time is in effect, zero if it is not, and negative if the information is not available.
long int tm_gmtoff
This field describes the time zone that was used to compute this broken-down time value, including any adjustment for daylight saving; it is the number of seconds that you must add to UTC to get local time. You can also think of this as the number of seconds east of UTC. For example, for U.S. Eastern Standard Time, the value is -5*60*60. The tm_gmtoff field is derived from BSD and is a GNU library extension; it is not visible in a strict ISO C environment.
const char *tm_zone
This field is the name for the time zone that was used to compute this broken-down time value. Like tm_gmtoff, this field is a BSD and GNU extension, and is not visible in a strict ISO C environment.

Function: struct tm * localtime (const time_t *time)
The localtime function converts the calendar time pointed to by time to broken-down time representation, expressed relative to the user's specified time zone.

The return value is a pointer to a static broken-down time structure, which might be overwritten by subsequent calls to ctime, gmtime, or localtime. (But no other library function overwrites the contents of this object.)

Calling localtime has one other effect: it sets the variable tzname with information about the current time zone. See section Functions and Variables for Time Zones.

Function: struct tm * gmtime (const time_t *time)
This function is similar to localtime, except that the broken-down time is expressed as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)---that is, as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)---rather than relative to the local time zone.

Recall that calendar times are always expressed in coordinated universal time.

Function: time_t mktime (struct tm *brokentime)
The mktime function is used to convert a broken-down time structure to a calendar time representation. It also "normalizes" the contents of the broken-down time structure, by filling in the day of week and day of year based on the other date and time components.

The mktime function ignores the specified contents of the tm_wday and tm_yday members of the broken-down time structure. It uses the values of the other components to compute the calendar time; it's permissible for these components to have unnormalized values outside of their normal ranges. The last thing that mktime does is adjust the components of the brokentime structure (including the tm_wday and tm_yday).

If the specified broken-down time cannot be represented as a calendar time, mktime returns a value of (time_t)(-1) and does not modify the contents of brokentime.

Calling mktime also sets the variable tzname with information about the current time zone. See section Functions and Variables for Time Zones.

Formatting Date and Time

The functions described in this section format time values as strings. These functions are declared in the header file `time.h'.

Function: char * asctime (const struct tm *brokentime)
The asctime function converts the broken-down time value that brokentime points to into a string in a standard format:

"Tue May 21 13:46:22 1991\n"

The abbreviations for the days of week are: `Sun', `Mon', `Tue', `Wed', `Thu', `Fri', and `Sat'.

The abbreviations for the months are: `Jan', `Feb', `Mar', `Apr', `May', `Jun', `Jul', `Aug', `Sep', `Oct', `Nov', and `Dec'.

The return value points to a statically allocated string, which might be overwritten by subsequent calls to asctime or ctime. (But no other library function overwrites the contents of this string.)

Function: char * ctime (const time_t *time)
The ctime function is similar to asctime, except that the time value is specified as a time_t calendar time value rather than in broken-down local time format. It is equivalent to

asctime (localtime (time))

ctime sets the variable tzname, because localtime does so. See section Functions and Variables for Time Zones.

Function: size_t strftime (char *s, size_t size, const char *template, const struct tm *brokentime)
This function is similar to the sprintf function (see section Formatted Input), but the conversion specifications that can appear in the format template template are specialized for printing components of the date and time brokentime according to the locale currently specified for time conversion (see section Locales and Internationalization).

Ordinary characters appearing in the template are copied to the output string s; this can include multibyte character sequences. Conversion specifiers are introduced by a `%' character, followed by an optional flag which can be one of the following. These flags, which are GNU extensions, affect only the output of numbers:

_
The number is padded with spaces.
-
The number is not padded at all.
0
The number is padded with zeros even if the format specifies padding with spaces.
^
The output uses uppercase characters, but only if this is possible (see section Case Conversion).

The default action is to pad the number with zeros to keep it a constant width. Numbers that do not have a range indicated below are never padded, since there is no natural width for them.

Following the flag an optional specification of the width is possible. This is specified in decimal notation. If the natural size of the output is of the field has less than the specified number of characters, the result is written right adjusted and space padded to the given size.

An optional modifier can follow the optional flag and width specification. The modifiers, which are POSIX.2 extensions, are:

E
Use the locale's alternate representation for date and time. This modifier applies to the %c, %C, %x, %X, %y and %Y format specifiers. In a Japanese locale, for example, %Ex might yield a date format based on the Japanese Emperors' reigns.
O
Use the locale's alternate numeric symbols for numbers. This modifier applies only to numeric format specifiers.

If the format supports the modifier but no alternate representation is available, it is ignored.

The conversion specifier ends with a format specifier taken from the following list. The whole `%' sequence is replaced in the output string as follows:

%a
The abbreviated weekday name according to the current locale.
%A
The full weekday name according to the current locale.
%b
The abbreviated month name according to the current locale.
%B
The full month name according to the current locale.
%c
The preferred date and time representation for the current locale.
%C
The century of the year. This is equivalent to the greatest integer not greater than the year divided by 100. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%d
The day of the month as a decimal number (range 01 through 31).
%D
The date using the format %m/%d/%y. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%e
The day of the month like with %d, but padded with blank (range 1 through 31). This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%g
The year corresponding to the ISO week number, but without the century (range 00 through 99). This has the same format and value as %y, except that if the ISO week number (see %V) belongs to the previous or next year, that year is used instead. This format is a GNU extension.
%G
The year corresponding to the ISO week number. This has the same format and value as %Y, except that if the ISO week number (see %V) belongs to the previous or next year, that year is used instead. This format is a GNU extension.
%h
The abbreviated month name according to the current locale. The action is the same as for %b. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%H
The hour as a decimal number, using a 24-hour clock (range 00 through 23).
%I
The hour as a decimal number, using a 12-hour clock (range 01 through 12).
%j
The day of the year as a decimal number (range 001 through 366).
%k
The hour as a decimal number, using a 24-hour clock like %H, but padded with blank (range 0 through 23). This format is a GNU extension.
%l
The hour as a decimal number, using a 12-hour clock like %I, but padded with blank (range 1 through 12). This format is a GNU extension.
%m
The month as a decimal number (range 01 through 12).
%M
The minute as a decimal number (range 00 through 59).
%n
A single `\n' (newline) character. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%p
Either `AM' or `PM', according to the given time value; or the corresponding strings for the current locale. Noon is treated as `PM' and midnight as `AM'.
%P
Either `am' or `pm', according to the given time value; or the corresponding strings for the current locale, printed in lowercase characters. Noon is treated as `pm' and midnight as `am'. This format is a GNU extension.
%r
The complete time using the AM/PM format of the current locale. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%R
The hour and minute in decimal numbers using the format %H:%M. This format is a GNU extension.
%s
The number of seconds since the epoch, i.e., since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC. Leap seconds are not counted unless leap second support is available. This format is a GNU extension.
%S
The second as a decimal number (range 00 through 60).
%t
A single `\t' (tabulator) character. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%T
The time using decimal numbers using the format %H:%M:%S. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%u
The day of the week as a decimal number (range 1 through 7), Monday being 1. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%U
The week number of the current year as a decimal number (range 00 through 53), starting with the first Sunday as the first day of the first week. Days preceding the first Sunday in the year are considered to be in week 00.
%V
The ISO 8601:1988 week number as a decimal number (range 01 through 53). ISO weeks start with Monday and end with Sunday. Week 01 of a year is the first week which has the majority of its days in that year; this is equivalent to the week containing the year's first Thursday, and it is also equivalent to the week containing January 4. Week 01 of a year can contain days from the previous year. The week before week 01 of a year is the last week (52 or 53) of the previous year even if it contains days from the new year. This format is a POSIX.2 extension.
%w
The day of the week as a decimal number (range 0 through 6), Sunday being 0.
%W
The week number of the current year as a decimal number (range 00 through 53), starting with the first Monday as the first day of the first week. All days preceding the first Monday in the year are considered to be in week 00.
%x
The preferred date representation for the current locale, but without the time.
%X
The preferred time representation for the current locale, but with no date.
%y
The year without a century as a decimal number (range 00 through 99). This is equivalent to the year modulo 100.
%Y
The year as a decimal number, using the Gregorian calendar. Years before the year 1 are numbered 0, -1, and so on.
%z
RFC 822/ISO 8601:1988 style numeric time zone (e.g., -0600 or +0100), or nothing if no time zone is determinable. This format is a GNU extension.
%Z
The time zone abbreviation (empty if the time zone can't be determined).
%%
A literal `%' character.

The size parameter can be used to specify the maximum number of characters to be stored in the array s, including the terminating null character. If the formatted time requires more than size characters, the excess characters are discarded. The return value from strftime is the number of characters placed in the array s, not including the terminating null character. If the value equals size, it means that the array s was too small; you should repeat the call, providing a bigger array.

If s is a null pointer, strftime does not actually write anything, but instead returns the number of characters it would have written.

According to POSIX.1 every call to strftime implies a call to tzset. So the contents of the environment variable TZ is examined before any output is produced.

For an example of strftime, see section Time Functions Example.

Specifying the Time Zone with TZ

In POSIX systems, a user can specify the time zone by means of the TZ environment variable. For information about how to set environment variables, see section Environment Variables. The functions for accessing the time zone are declared in `time.h'.

You should not normally need to set TZ. If the system is configured properly, the default time zone will be correct. You might set TZ if you are using a computer over the network from a different time zone, and would like times reported to you in the time zone that local for you, rather than what is local for the computer.

In POSIX.1 systems the value of the TZ variable can be of one of three formats. With the GNU C library, the most common format is the last one, which can specify a selection from a large database of time zone information for many regions of the world. The first two formats are used to describe the time zone information directly, which is both more cumbersome and less precise. But the POSIX.1 standard only specifies the details of the first two formats, so it is good to be familiar with them in case you come across a POSIX.1 system that doesn't support a time zone information database.

The first format is used when there is no Daylight Saving Time (or summer time) in the local time zone:

std offset

The std string specifies the name of the time zone. It must be three or more characters long and must not contain a leading colon or embedded digits, commas, or plus or minus signs. There is no space character separating the time zone name from the offset, so these restrictions are necessary to parse the specification correctly.

The offset specifies the time value one must add to the local time to get a Coordinated Universal Time value. It has syntax like [+|-]hh[:mm[:ss]]. This is positive if the local time zone is west of the Prime Meridian and negative if it is east. The hour must be between 0 and 23, and the minute and seconds between 0 and 59.

For example, here is how we would specify Eastern Standard Time, but without any daylight saving time alternative:

EST+5

The second format is used when there is Daylight Saving Time:

std offset dst [offset],start[/time],end[/time]

The initial std and offset specify the standard time zone, as described above. The dst string and offset specify the name and offset for the corresponding daylight saving time time zone; if the offset is omitted, it defaults to one hour ahead of standard time.

The remainder of the specification describes when daylight saving time is in effect. The start field is when daylight saving time goes into effect and the end field is when the change is made back to standard time. The following formats are recognized for these fields:

Jn
This specifies the Julian day, with n between 1 and 365. February 29 is never counted, even in leap years.
n
This specifies the Julian day, with n between 0 and 365. February 29 is counted in leap years.
Mm.w.d
This specifies day d of week w of month m. The day d must be between 0 (Sunday) and 6. The week w must be between 1 and 5; week 1 is the first week in which day d occurs, and week 5 specifies the last d day in the month. The month m should be between 1 and 12.

The time fields specify when, in the local time currently in effect, the change to the other time occurs. If omitted, the default is 02:00:00.

For example, here is how one would specify the Eastern time zone in the United States, including the appropriate daylight saving time and its dates of applicability. The normal offset from UTC is 5 hours; since this is west of the prime meridian, the sign is positive. Summer time begins on the first Sunday in April at 2:00am, and ends on the last Sunday in October at 2:00am.

EST+5EDT,M4.1.0/2,M10.5.0/2

The schedule of daylight saving time in any particular jurisdiction has changed over the years. To be strictly correct, the conversion of dates and times in the past should be based on the schedule that was in effect then. However, this format has no facilities to let you specify how the schedule has changed from year to year. The most you can do is specify one particular schedule--usually the present day schedule--and this is used to convert any date, no matter when. For precise time zone specifications, it is best to use the time zone information database (see below).

The third format looks like this:

:characters

Each operating system interprets this format differently; in the GNU C library, characters is the name of a file which describes the time zone.

If the TZ environment variable does not have a value, the operation chooses a time zone by default. In the GNU C library, the default time zone is like the specification `TZ=:/etc/localtime' (or `TZ=:/usr/local/etc/localtime', depending on how GNU C library was configured; see section How to Install the GNU C Library). Other C libraries use their own rule for choosing the default time zone, so there is little we can say about them.

If characters begins with a slash, it is an absolute file name; otherwise the library looks for the file `/share/lib/zoneinfo/characters'. The `zoneinfo' directory contains data files describing local time zones in many different parts of the world. The names represent major cities, with subdirectories for geographical areas; for example, `America/New_York', `Europe/London', `Asia/Hong_Kong'. These data files are installed by the system administrator, who also sets `/etc/localtime' to point to the data file for the local time zone. The GNU C library comes with a large database of time zone information for most regions of the world, which is maintained by a community of volunteers and put in the public domain.

Functions and Variables for Time Zones

Variable: char * tzname [2]
The array tzname contains two strings, which are the standard names of the pair of time zones (standard and daylight saving) that the user has selected. tzname[0] is the name of the standard time zone (for example, "EST"), and tzname[1] is the name for the time zone when daylight saving time is in use (for example, "EDT"). These correspond to the std and dst strings (respectively) from the TZ environment variable. If daylight saving time is never used, tzname[1] is the empty string.

The tzname array is initialized from the TZ environment variable whenever tzset, ctime, strftime, mktime, or localtime is called. If multiple abbreviations have been used (e.g. "EWT" and "EDT" for U.S. Eastern War Time and Eastern Daylight Time), the array contains the most recent abbreviation.

The tzname array is required for POSIX.1 compatibility, but in GNU programs it is better to use the tm_zone member of the broken-down time structure, since tm_zone reports the correct abbreviation even when it is not the latest one.

Function: void tzset (void)
The tzset function initializes the tzname variable from the value of the TZ environment variable. It is not usually necessary for your program to call this function, because it is called automatically when you use the other time conversion functions that depend on the time zone.

The following variables are defined for compatibility with System V Unix. Like tzname, these variables are set by calling tzset or the other time conversion functions.

Variable: long int timezone
This contains the difference between UTC and the latest local standard time, in seconds west of UTC. For example, in the U.S. Eastern time zone, the value is 5*60*60. Unlike the tm_gmtoff member of the broken-down time structure, this value is not adjusted for daylight saving, and its sign is reversed. In GNU programs it is better to use tm_gmtoff, since it contains the correct offset even when it is not the latest one.

Variable: int daylight
This variable has a nonzero value if daylight savings time rules apply. A nonzero value does not necessarily mean that daylight savings time is now in effect; it means only that daylight savings time is sometimes in effect.

Time Functions Example

Here is an example program showing the use of some of the local time and calendar time functions.

#include <time.h>
#include <stdio.h>

#define SIZE 256

int
main (void)
{
  char buffer[SIZE];
  time_t curtime;
  struct tm *loctime;

  /* Get the current time. */
  curtime = time (NULL);

  /* Convert it to local time representation. */
  loctime = localtime (&curtime);

  /* Print out the date and time in the standard format. */
  fputs (asctime (loctime), stdout);

  /* Print it out in a nice format. */
  strftime (buffer, SIZE, "Today is %A, %B %d.\n", loctime);
  fputs (buffer, stdout);
  strftime (buffer, SIZE, "The time is %I:%M %p.\n", loctime);
  fputs (buffer, stdout);

  return 0;
}

It produces output like this:

Wed Jul 31 13:02:36 1991
Today is Wednesday, July 31.
The time is 01:02 PM.

Setting an Alarm

The alarm and setitimer functions provide a mechanism for a process to interrupt itself at some future time. They do this by setting a timer; when the timer expires, the process receives a signal.

Each process has three independent interval timers available:

You can only have one timer of each kind set at any given time. If you set a timer that has not yet expired, that timer is simply reset to the new value.

You should establish a handler for the appropriate alarm signal using signal or sigaction before issuing a call to setitimer or alarm. Otherwise, an unusual chain of events could cause the timer to expire before your program establishes the handler, and in that case it would be terminated, since that is the default action for the alarm signals. See section Signal Handling.

The setitimer function is the primary means for setting an alarm. This facility is declared in the header file `sys/time.h'. The alarm function, declared in `unistd.h', provides a somewhat simpler interface for setting the real-time timer.

Data Type: struct itimerval
This structure is used to specify when a timer should expire. It contains the following members:
struct timeval it_interval
This is the interval between successive timer interrupts. If zero, the alarm will only be sent once.
struct timeval it_value
This is the interval to the first timer interrupt. If zero, the alarm is disabled.

The struct timeval data type is described in section High-Resolution Calendar.

Function: int setitimer (int which, struct itimerval *new, struct itimerval *old)
The setitimer function sets the timer specified by which according to new. The which argument can have a value of ITIMER_REAL, ITIMER_VIRTUAL, or ITIMER_PROF.

If old is not a null pointer, setitimer returns information about any previous unexpired timer of the same kind in the structure it points to.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error conditions are defined for this function:

EINVAL
The timer interval was too large.

Function: int getitimer (int which, struct itimerval *old)
The getitimer function stores information about the timer specified by which in the structure pointed at by old.

The return value and error conditions are the same as for setitimer.

ITIMER_REAL
This constant can be used as the which argument to the setitimer and getitimer functions to specify the real-time timer.
ITIMER_VIRTUAL
This constant can be used as the which argument to the setitimer and getitimer functions to specify the virtual timer.
ITIMER_PROF
This constant can be used as the which argument to the setitimer and getitimer functions to specify the profiling timer.

Function: unsigned int alarm (unsigned int seconds)
The alarm function sets the real-time timer to expire in seconds seconds. If you want to cancel any existing alarm, you can do this by calling alarm with a seconds argument of zero.

The return value indicates how many seconds remain before the previous alarm would have been sent. If there is no previous alarm, alarm returns zero.

The alarm function could be defined in terms of setitimer like this:

unsigned int
alarm (unsigned int seconds)
{
  struct itimerval old, new;
  new.it_interval.tv_usec = 0;
  new.it_interval.tv_sec = 0;
  new.it_value.tv_usec = 0;
  new.it_value.tv_sec = (long int) seconds;
  if (setitimer (ITIMER_REAL, &new, &old) < 0)
    return 0;
  else
    return old.it_value.tv_sec;
}

There is an example showing the use of the alarm function in section Signal Handlers that Return.

If you simply want your process to wait for a given number of seconds, you should use the sleep function. See section Sleeping.

You shouldn't count on the signal arriving precisely when the timer expires. In a multiprocessing environment there is typically some amount of delay involved.

Portability Note: The setitimer and getitimer functions are derived from BSD Unix, while the alarm function is specified by the POSIX.1 standard. setitimer is more powerful than alarm, but alarm is more widely used.

Sleeping

The function sleep gives a simple way to make the program wait for short periods of time. If your program doesn't use signals (except to terminate), then you can expect sleep to wait reliably for the specified amount of time. Otherwise, sleep can return sooner if a signal arrives; if you want to wait for a given period regardless of signals, use select (see section Waiting for Input or Output) and don't specify any descriptors to wait for.

Function: unsigned int sleep (unsigned int seconds)
The sleep function waits for seconds or until a signal is delivered, whichever happens first.

If sleep function returns because the requested time has elapsed, it returns a value of zero. If it returns because of delivery of a signal, its return value is the remaining time in the sleep period.

The sleep function is declared in `unistd.h'.

Resist the temptation to implement a sleep for a fixed amount of time by using the return value of sleep, when nonzero, to call sleep again. This will work with a certain amount of accuracy as long as signals arrive infrequently. But each signal can cause the eventual wakeup time to be off by an additional second or so. Suppose a few signals happen to arrive in rapid succession by bad luck--there is no limit on how much this could shorten or lengthen the wait.

Instead, compute the time at which the program should stop waiting, and keep trying to wait until that time. This won't be off by more than a second. With just a little more work, you can use select and make the waiting period quite accurate. (Of course, heavy system load can cause unavoidable additional delays--unless the machine is dedicated to one application, there is no way you can avoid this.)

On some systems, sleep can do strange things if your program uses SIGALRM explicitly. Even if SIGALRM signals are being ignored or blocked when sleep is called, sleep might return prematurely on delivery of a SIGALRM signal. If you have established a handler for SIGALRM signals and a SIGALRM signal is delivered while the process is sleeping, the action taken might be just to cause sleep to return instead of invoking your handler. And, if sleep is interrupted by delivery of a signal whose handler requests an alarm or alters the handling of SIGALRM, this handler and sleep will interfere.

On the GNU system, it is safe to use sleep and SIGALRM in the same program, because sleep does not work by means of SIGALRM.

Resource Usage

The function getrusage and the data type struct rusage are used for examining the usage figures of a process. They are declared in `sys/resource.h'.

Function: int getrusage (int processes, struct rusage *rusage)
This function reports the usage totals for processes specified by processes, storing the information in *rusage.

In most systems, processes has only two valid values:

RUSAGE_SELF
Just the current process.
RUSAGE_CHILDREN
All child processes (direct and indirect) that have terminated already.

In the GNU system, you can also inquire about a particular child process by specifying its process ID.

The return value of getrusage is zero for success, and -1 for failure.

EINVAL
The argument processes is not valid.

One way of getting usage figures for a particular child process is with the function wait4, which returns totals for a child when it terminates. See section BSD Process Wait Functions.

Data Type: struct rusage
This data type records a collection usage amounts for various sorts of resources. It has the following members, and possibly others:

struct timeval ru_utime
Time spent executing user instructions.
struct timeval ru_stime
Time spent in operating system code on behalf of processes.
long int ru_maxrss
The maximum resident set size used, in kilobytes. That is, the maximum number of kilobytes that processes used in real memory simultaneously.
long int ru_ixrss
An integral value expressed in kilobytes times ticks of execution, which indicates the amount of memory used by text that was shared with other processes.
long int ru_idrss
An integral value expressed the same way, which is the amount of unshared memory used in data.
long int ru_isrss
An integral value expressed the same way, which is the amount of unshared memory used in stack space.
long int ru_minflt
The number of page faults which were serviced without requiring any I/O.
long int ru_majflt
The number of page faults which were serviced by doing I/O.
long int ru_nswap
The number of times processes was swapped entirely out of main memory.
long int ru_inblock
The number of times the file system had to read from the disk on behalf of processes.
long int ru_oublock
The number of times the file system had to write to the disk on behalf of processes.
long int ru_msgsnd
Number of IPC messages sent.
long ru_msgrcv
Number of IPC messages received.
long int ru_nsignals
Number of signals received.
long int ru_nvcsw
The number of times processes voluntarily invoked a context switch (usually to wait for some service).
long int ru_nivcsw
The number of times an involuntary context switch took place (because the time slice expired, or another process of higher priority became runnable).

An additional historical function for examining usage figures, vtimes, is supported but not documented here. It is declared in `sys/vtimes.h'.

Limiting Resource Usage

You can specify limits for the resource usage of a process. When the process tries to exceed a limit, it may get a signal, or the system call by which it tried to do so may fail, depending on the limit. Each process initially inherits its limit values from its parent, but it can subsequently change them.

The symbols in this section are defined in `sys/resource.h'.

Function: int getrlimit (int resource, struct rlimit *rlp)
Read the current value and the maximum value of resource resource and store them in *rlp.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The only possible errno error condition is EFAULT.

Function: int setrlimit (int resource, struct rlimit *rlp)
Store the current value and the maximum value of resource resource in *rlp.

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error condition is possible:

EPERM
You tried to change the maximum permissible limit value, but you don't have privileges to do so.

Data Type: struct rlimit
This structure is used with getrlimit to receive limit values, and with setrlimit to specify limit values. It has two fields:

rlim_cur
The current value of the limit in question. This is also called the "soft limit".
rlim_max
The maximum permissible value of the limit in question. You cannot set the current value of the limit to a larger number than this maximum. Only the super user can change the maximum permissible value. This is also called the "hard limit".

In getrlimit, the structure is an output; it receives the current values. In setrlimit, it specifies the new values.

Here is a list of resources that you can specify a limit for. Those that are sizes are measured in bytes.

RLIMIT_CPU
The maximum amount of cpu time the process can use. If it runs for longer than this, it gets a signal: SIGXCPU. The value is measured in seconds. See section Operation Error Signals.
RLIMIT_FSIZE
The maximum size of file the process can create. Trying to write a larger file causes a signal: SIGXFSZ. See section Operation Error Signals.
RLIMIT_DATA
The maximum size of data memory for the process. If the process tries to allocate data memory beyond this amount, the allocation function fails.
RLIMIT_STACK
The maximum stack size for the process. If the process tries to extend its stack past this size, it gets a SIGSEGV signal. See section Program Error Signals.
RLIMIT_CORE
The maximum size core file that this process can create. If the process terminates and would dump a core file larger than this maximum size, then no core file is created. So setting this limit to zero prevents core files from ever being created.
RLIMIT_RSS
The maximum amount of physical memory that this process should get. This parameter is a guide for the system's scheduler and memory allocator; the system may give the process more memory when there is a surplus.
RLIMIT_MEMLOCK
The maximum amount of memory that can be locked into physical memory (so it will never be paged out).
RLIMIT_NPROC
The maximum number of processes that can be created with the same user ID. If you have reached the limit for your user ID, fork will fail with EAGAIN. See section Creating a Process.
RLIMIT_NOFILE
RLIMIT_OFILE
The maximum number of files that the process can open. If it tries to open more files than this, it gets error code EMFILE. See section Error Codes. Not all systems support this limit; GNU does, and 4.4 BSD does.
RLIM_NLIMITS
The number of different resource limits. Any valid resource operand must be less than RLIM_NLIMITS.

Constant: int RLIM_INFINITY
This constant stands for a value of "infinity" when supplied as the limit value in setrlimit.

Two historical functions for setting resource limits, ulimit and vlimit, are not documented here. The latter is declared in `sys/vlimit.h' and comes from BSD.

Process Priority

When several processes try to run, their respective priorities determine what share of the CPU each process gets. This section describes how you can read and set the priority of a process. All these functions and macros are declared in `sys/resource.h'.

The range of valid priority values depends on the operating system, but typically it runs from -20 to 20. A lower priority value means the process runs more often. These constants describe the range of priority values:

PRIO_MIN
The smallest valid priority value.
PRIO_MAX
The smallest valid priority value.

Function: int getpriority (int class, int id)
Read the priority of a class of processes; class and id specify which ones (see below). If the processes specified do not all have the same priority, this returns the smallest value that any of them has.

The return value is the priority value on success, and -1 on failure. The following errno error condition are possible for this function:

ESRCH
The combination of class and id does not match any existing process.
EINVAL
The value of class is not valid.

When the return value is -1, it could indicate failure, or it could be the priority value. The only way to make certain is to set errno = 0 before calling getpriority, then use errno != 0 afterward as the criterion for failure.

Function: int setpriority (int class, int id, int priority)
Set the priority of a class of processes to priority; class and id specify which ones (see below).

The return value is 0 on success and -1 on failure. The following errno error condition are defined for this function:

ESRCH
The combination of class and id does not match any existing process.
EINVAL
The value of class is not valid.
EPERM
You tried to set the priority of some other user's process, and you don't have privileges for that.
EACCES
You tried to lower the priority of a process, and you don't have privileges for that.

The arguments class and id together specify a set of processes you are interested in. These are the possible values for class:

PRIO_PROCESS
Read or set the priority of one process. The argument id is a process ID.
PRIO_PGRP
Read or set the priority of one process group. The argument id is a process group ID.
PRIO_USER
Read or set the priority of one user's processes. The argument id is a user ID.

If the argument id is 0, it stands for the current process, current process group, or the current user, according to class.

Function: int nice (int increment)
Increment the priority of the current process by increment. The return value is the same as for setpriority.

Here is an equivalent definition for nice:

int
nice (int increment)
{
  int old = getpriority (PRIO_PROCESS, 0);
  return setpriority (PRIO_PROCESS, 0, old + increment);
}

Extended Characters

A number of languages use character sets that are larger than the range of values of type char. Japanese and Chinese are probably the most familiar examples.

The GNU C library includes support for two mechanisms for dealing with extended character sets: multibyte characters and wide characters. This chapter describes how to use these mechanisms, and the functions for converting between them.

The behavior of the functions in this chapter is affected by the current locale for character classification--the LC_CTYPE category; see section Categories of Activities that Locales Affect. This choice of locale selects which multibyte code is used, and also controls the meanings and characteristics of wide character codes.

Introduction to Extended Characters

You can represent extended characters in either of two ways:

Typically, you use the multibyte character representation as part of the external program interface, such as reading or writing text to files. However, it's usually easier to perform internal manipulations on strings containing extended characters on arrays of wchar_t objects, since the uniform representation makes most editing operations easier. If you do use multibyte characters for files and wide characters for internal operations, you need to convert between them when you read and write data.

If your system supports extended characters, then it supports them both as multibyte characters and as wide characters. The library includes functions you can use to convert between the two representations. These functions are described in this chapter.

Locales and Extended Characters

A computer system can support more than one multibyte character code, and more than one wide character code. The user controls the choice of codes through the current locale for character classification (see section Locales and Internationalization). Each locale specifies a particular multibyte character code and a particular wide character code. The choice of locale influences the behavior of the conversion functions in the library.

Some locales support neither wide characters nor nontrivial multibyte characters. In these locales, the library conversion functions still work, even though what they do is basically trivial.

If you select a new locale for character classification, the internal shift state maintained by these functions can become confused, so it's not a good idea to change the locale while you are in the middle of processing a string.

Multibyte Characters

In the ordinary ASCII code, a sequence of characters is a sequence of bytes, and each character is one byte. This is very simple, but allows for only 256 distinct characters.

In a multibyte character code, a sequence of characters is a sequence of bytes, but each character may occupy one or more consecutive bytes of the sequence.

There are many different ways of designing a multibyte character code; different systems use different codes. To specify a particular code means designating the basic byte sequences--those which represent a single character--and what characters they stand for. A code that a computer can actually use must have a finite number of these basic sequences, and typically none of them is more than a few characters long.

These sequences need not all have the same length. In fact, many of them are just one byte long. Because the basic ASCII characters in the range from 0 to 0177 are so important, they stand for themselves in all multibyte character codes. That is to say, a byte whose value is 0 through 0177 is always a character in itself. The characters which are more than one byte must always start with a byte in the range from 0200 through 0377.

The byte value 0 can be used to terminate a string, just as it is often used in a string of ASCII characters.

Specifying the basic byte sequences that represent single characters automatically gives meanings to many longer byte sequences, as more than one character. For example, if the two byte sequence 0205 049 stands for the Greek letter alpha, then 0205 049 065 must stand for an alpha followed by an `A' (ASCII code 065), and 0205 049 0205 049 must stand for two alphas in a row.

If any byte sequence can have more than one meaning as a sequence of characters, then the multibyte code is ambiguous--and no good. The codes that systems actually use are all unambiguous.

In most codes, there are certain sequences of bytes that have no meaning as a character or characters. These are called invalid.

The simplest possible multibyte code is a trivial one:

The basic sequences consist of single bytes.

This particular code is equivalent to not using multibyte characters at all. It has no invalid sequences. But it can handle only 256 different characters.

Here is another possible code which can handle 9376 different characters:

The basic sequences consist of

  • single bytes with values in the range 0 through 0237.
  • two-byte sequences, in which both of the bytes have values in the range from 0240 through 0377.

This code or a similar one is used on some systems to represent Japanese characters. The invalid sequences are those which consist of an odd number of consecutive bytes in the range from 0240 through 0377.

Here is another multibyte code which can handle more distinct extended characters--in fact, almost thirty million:

The basic sequences consist of

  • single bytes with values in the range 0 through 0177.
  • sequences of up to four bytes in which the first byte is in the range from 0200 through 0237, and the remaining bytes are in the range from 0240 through 0377.

In this code, any sequence that starts with a byte in the range from 0240 through 0377 is invalid.

And here is another variant which has the advantage that removing the last byte or bytes from a valid character can never produce another valid character. (This property is convenient when you want to search strings for particular characters.)

The basic sequences consist of

  • single bytes with values in the range 0 through 0177.
  • two-byte sequences in which the first byte is in the range from 0200 through 0207, and the second byte is in the range from 0240 through 0377.
  • three-byte sequences in which the first byte is in the range from 0210 through 0217, and the other bytes are in the range from 0240 through 0377.
  • four-byte sequences in which the first byte is in the range from 0220 through 0227, and the other bytes are in the range from 0240 through 0377.

The list of invalid sequences for this code is long and not worth stating in full; examples of invalid sequences include 0240 and 0220 0300 065.

The number of possible multibyte codes is astronomical. But a given computer system will support at most a few different codes. (One of these codes may allow for thousands of different characters.) Another computer system may support a completely different code. The library facilities described in this chapter are helpful because they package up the knowledge of the details of a particular computer system's multibyte code, so your programs need not know them.

You can use special standard macros to find out the maximum possible number of bytes in a character in the currently selected multibyte code with MB_CUR_MAX, and the maximum for any multibyte code supported on your computer with MB_LEN_MAX.

Macro: int MB_LEN_MAX
This is the maximum length of a multibyte character for any supported locale. It is defined in `limits.h'.

Macro: int MB_CUR_MAX
This macro expands into a (possibly non-constant) positive integer expression that is the maximum number of bytes in a multibyte character in the current locale. The value is never greater than MB_LEN_MAX.

MB_CUR_MAX is defined in `stdlib.h'.

Normally, each basic sequence in a particular character code stands for one character, the same character regardless of context. Some multibyte character codes have a concept of shift state; certain codes, called shift sequences, change to a different shift state, and the meaning of some or all basic sequences varies according to the current shift state. In fact, the set of basic sequences might even be different depending on the current shift state. See section Multibyte Codes Using Shift Sequences, for more information on handling this sort of code.

What happens if you try to pass a string containing multibyte characters to a function that doesn't know about them? Normally, such a function treats a string as a sequence of bytes, and interprets certain byte values specially; all other byte values are "ordinary". As long as a multibyte character doesn't contain any of the special byte values, the function should pass it through as if it were several ordinary characters.

For example, let's figure out what happens if you use multibyte characters in a file name. The functions such as open and unlink that operate on file names treat the name as a sequence of byte values, with `/' as the only special value. Any other byte values are copied, or compared, in sequence, and all byte values are treated alike. Thus, you may think of the file name as a sequence of bytes or as a string containing multibyte characters; the same behavior makes sense equally either way, provided no multibyte character contains a `/'.

Wide Character Introduction

Wide characters are much simpler than multibyte characters. They are simply characters with more than eight bits, so that they have room for more than 256 distinct codes. The wide character data type, wchar_t, has a range large enough to hold extended character codes as well as old-fashioned ASCII codes.

An advantage of wide characters is that each character is a single data object, just like ordinary ASCII characters. Wide characters also have some disadvantages:

Wide character values 0 through 0177 are always identical in meaning to the ASCII character codes. The wide character value zero is often used to terminate a string of wide characters, just as a single byte with value zero often terminates a string of ordinary characters.

Data Type: wchar_t
This is the "wide character" type, an integer type whose range is large enough to represent all distinct values in any extended character set in the supported locales. See section Locales and Internationalization, for more information about locales. This type is defined in the header file `stddef.h'.

If your system supports extended characters, then each extended character has both a wide character code and a corresponding multibyte basic sequence.

In this chapter, the term code is used to refer to a single extended character object to emphasize the distinction from the char data type.

Conversion of Extended Strings

The mbstowcs function converts a string of multibyte characters to a wide character array. The wcstombs function does the reverse. These functions are declared in the header file `stdlib.h'.

In most programs, these functions are the only ones you need for conversion between wide strings and multibyte character strings. But they have limitations. If your data is not null-terminated or is not all in core at once, you probably need to use the low-level conversion functions to convert one character at a time. See section Conversion of Extended Characters One by One.

Function: size_t mbstowcs (wchar_t *wstring, const char *string, size_t size)
The mbstowcs ("multibyte string to wide character string") function converts the null-terminated string of multibyte characters string to an array of wide character codes, storing not more than size wide characters into the array beginning at wstring. The terminating null character counts towards the size, so if size is less than the actual number of wide characters resulting from string, no terminating null character is stored.

The conversion of characters from string begins in the initial shift state.

If an invalid multibyte character sequence is found, this function returns a value of -1. Otherwise, it returns the number of wide characters stored in the array wstring. This number does not include the terminating null character, which is present if the number is less than size.

Here is an example showing how to convert a string of multibyte characters, allocating enough space for the result.

wchar_t *
mbstowcs_alloc (const char *string)
{
  size_t size = strlen (string) + 1;
  wchar_t *buf = xmalloc (size * sizeof (wchar_t));

  size = mbstowcs (buf, string, size);
  if (size == (size_t) -1)
    return NULL;
  buf = xrealloc (buf, (size + 1) * sizeof (wchar_t));
  return buf;
}

Function: size_t wcstombs (char *string, const wchar_t wstring, size_t size)
The wcstombs ("wide character string to multibyte string") function converts the null-terminated wide character array wstring into a string containing multibyte characters, storing not more than size bytes starting at string, followed by a terminating null character if there is room. The conversion of characters begins in the initial shift state.

The terminating null character counts towards the size, so if size is less than or equal to the number of bytes needed in wstring, no terminating null character is stored.

If a code that does not correspond to a valid multibyte character is found, this function returns a value of -1. Otherwise, the return value is the number of bytes stored in the array string. This number does not include the terminating null character, which is present if the number is less than size.

Multibyte Character Length

This section describes how to scan a string containing multibyte characters, one character at a time. The difficulty in doing this is to know how many bytes each character contains. Your program can use mblen to find this out.

Function: int mblen (const char *string, size_t size)
The mblen function with a non-null string argument returns the number of bytes that make up the multibyte character beginning at string, never examining more than size bytes. (The idea is to supply for size the number of bytes of data you have in hand.)

The return value of mblen distinguishes three possibilities: the first size bytes at string start with valid multibyte character, they start with an invalid byte sequence or just part of a character, or string points to an empty string (a null character).

For a valid multibyte character, mblen returns the number of bytes in that character (always at least 1, and never more than size). For an invalid byte sequence, mblen returns -1. For an empty string, it returns 0.

If the multibyte character code uses shift characters, then mblen maintains and updates a shift state as it scans. If you call mblen with a null pointer for string, that initializes the shift state to its standard initial value. It also returns nonzero if the multibyte character code in use actually has a shift state. See section Multibyte Codes Using Shift Sequences.

The function mblen is declared in `stdlib.h'.

Conversion of Extended Characters One by One

You can convert multibyte characters one at a time to wide characters with the mbtowc function. The wctomb function does the reverse. These functions are declared in `stdlib.h'.

Function: int mbtowc (wchar_t *result, const char *string, size_t size)
The mbtowc ("multibyte to wide character") function when called with non-null string converts the first multibyte character beginning at string to its corresponding wide character code. It stores the result in *result.

mbtowc never examines more than size bytes. (The idea is to supply for size the number of bytes of data you have in hand.)

mbtowc with non-null string distinguishes three possibilities: the first size bytes at string start with valid multibyte character, they start with an invalid byte sequence or just part of a character, or string points to an empty string (a null character).

For a valid multibyte character, mbtowc converts it to a wide character and stores that in *result, and returns the number of bytes in that character (always at least 1, and never more than size).

For an invalid byte sequence, mbtowc returns -1. For an empty string, it returns 0, also storing 0 in *result.

If the multibyte character code uses shift characters, then mbtowc maintains and updates a shift state as it scans. If you call mbtowc with a null pointer for string, that initializes the shift state to its standard initial value. It also returns nonzero if the multibyte character code in use actually has a shift state. See section Multibyte Codes Using Shift Sequences.

Function: int wctomb (char *string, wchar_t wchar)
The wctomb ("wide character to multibyte") function converts the wide character code wchar to its corresponding multibyte character sequence, and stores the result in bytes starting at string. At most MB_CUR_MAX characters are stored.

wctomb with non-null string distinguishes three possibilities for wchar: a valid wide character code (one that can be translated to a multibyte character), an invalid code, and 0.

Given a valid code, wctomb converts it to a multibyte character, storing the bytes starting at string. Then it returns the number of bytes in that character (always at least 1, and never more than MB_CUR_MAX).

If wchar is an invalid wide character code, wctomb returns -1. If wchar is 0, it returns 0, also storing 0 in *string.

If the multibyte character code uses shift characters, then wctomb maintains and updates a shift state as it scans. If you call wctomb with a null pointer for string, that initializes the shift state to its standard initial value. It also returns nonzero if the multibyte character code in use actually has a shift state. See section Multibyte Codes Using Shift Sequences.

Calling this function with a wchar argument of zero when string is not null has the side-effect of reinitializing the stored shift state as well as storing the multibyte character 0 and returning 0.

Character-by-Character Conversion Example

Here is an example that reads multibyte character text from descriptor input and writes the corresponding wide characters to descriptor output. We need to convert characters one by one for this example because mbstowcs is unable to continue past a null character, and cannot cope with an apparently invalid partial character by reading more input.

int
file_mbstowcs (int input, int output)
{
  char buffer[BUFSIZ + MB_LEN_MAX];
  int filled = 0;
  int eof = 0;

  while (!eof)
    {
      int nread;
      int nwrite;
      char *inp = buffer;
      wchar_t outbuf[BUFSIZ];
      wchar_t *outp = outbuf;

      /* Fill up the buffer from the input file.  */
      nread = read (input, buffer + filled, BUFSIZ);
      if (nread < 0)
        {
          perror ("read");
          return 0;
        }
      /* If we reach end of file, make a note to read no more. */
      if (nread == 0)
        eof = 1;

      /* filled is now the number of bytes in buffer. */
      filled += nread;

      /* Convert those bytes to wide characters--as many as we can. */
      while (1)
        {
          int thislen = mbtowc (outp, inp, filled);
          /* Stop converting at invalid character;
             this can mean we have read just the first part
             of a valid character.  */
          if (thislen == -1)
            break;
          /* Treat null character like any other,
             but also reset shift state. */
          if (thislen == 0) {
            thislen = 1;
            mbtowc (NULL, NULL, 0);
          }
          /* Advance past this character. */
          inp += thislen;
          filled -= thislen;
          outp++;
        }

      /* Write the wide characters we just made.  */
      nwrite = write (output, outbuf,
                      (outp - outbuf) * sizeof (wchar_t));
      if (nwrite < 0)
        {
          perror ("write");
          return 0;
        }

      /* See if we have a real invalid character. */
      if ((eof && filled > 0) || filled >= MB_CUR_MAX)
        {
          error ("invalid multibyte character");
          return 0;
        }

      /* If any characters must be carried forward,
         put them at the beginning of buffer. */
      if (filled > 0)
        memcpy (inp, buffer, filled);
      }
    }

  return 1;
}

Multibyte Codes Using Shift Sequences

In some multibyte character codes, the meaning of any particular byte sequence is not fixed; it depends on what other sequences have come earlier in the same string. Typically there are just a few sequences that can change the meaning of other sequences; these few are called shift sequences and we say that they set the shift state for other sequences that follow.

To illustrate shift state and shift sequences, suppose we decide that the sequence 0200 (just one byte) enters Japanese mode, in which pairs of bytes in the range from 0240 to 0377 are single characters, while 0201 enters Latin-1 mode, in which single bytes in the range from 0240 to 0377 are characters, and interpreted according to the ISO Latin-1 character set. This is a multibyte code which has two alternative shift states ("Japanese mode" and "Latin-1 mode"), and two shift sequences that specify particular shift states.

When the multibyte character code in use has shift states, then mblen, mbtowc and wctomb must maintain and update the current shift state as they scan the string. To make this work properly, you must follow these rules:

Here is an example of using mblen following these rules:

void
scan_string (char *s)
{
  int length = strlen (s);

  /* Initialize shift state. */
  mblen (NULL, 0);

  while (1)
    {
      int thischar = mblen (s, length);
      /* Deal with end of string and invalid characters. */
      if (thischar == 0)
        break;
      if (thischar == -1)
        {
          error ("invalid multibyte character");
          break;
        }
      /* Advance past this character. */
      s += thischar;
      length -= thischar;
    }
}

The functions mblen, mbtowc and wctomb are not reentrant when using a multibyte code that uses a shift state. However, no other library functions call these functions, so you don't have to worry that the shift state will be changed mysteriously.

Locales and Internationalization

Different countries and cultures have varying conventions for how to communicate. These conventions range from very simple ones, such as the format for representing dates and times, to very complex ones, such as the language spoken.

Internationalization of software means programming it to be able to adapt to the user's favorite conventions. In ISO C, internationalization works by means of locales. Each locale specifies a collection of conventions, one convention for each purpose. The user chooses a set of conventions by specifying a locale (via environment variables).

All programs inherit the chosen locale as part of their environment. Provided the programs are written to obey the choice of locale, they will follow the conventions preferred by the user.

What Effects a Locale Has

Each locale specifies conventions for several purposes, including the following:

Some aspects of adapting to the specified locale are handled automatically by the library subroutines. For example, all your program needs to do in order to use the collating sequence of the chosen locale is to use strcoll or strxfrm to compare strings.

Other aspects of locales are beyond the comprehension of the library. For example, the library can't automatically translate your program's output messages into other languages. The only way you can support output in the user's favorite language is to program this more or less by hand. (Eventually, we hope to provide facilities to make this easier.)

This chapter discusses the mechanism by which you can modify the current locale. The effects of the current locale on specific library functions are discussed in more detail in the descriptions of those functions.

Choosing a Locale

The simplest way for the user to choose a locale is to set the environment variable LANG. This specifies a single locale to use for all purposes. For example, a user could specify a hypothetical locale named `espana-castellano' to use the standard conventions of most of Spain.

The set of locales supported depends on the operating system you are using, and so do their names. We can't make any promises about what locales will exist, except for one standard locale called `C' or `POSIX'.

A user also has the option of specifying different locales for different purposes--in effect, choosing a mixture of multiple locales.

For example, the user might specify the locale `espana-castellano' for most purposes, but specify the locale `usa-english' for currency formatting. This might make sense if the user is a Spanish-speaking American, working in Spanish, but representing monetary amounts in US dollars.

Note that both locales `espana-castellano' and `usa-english', like all locales, would include conventions for all of the purposes to which locales apply. However, the user can choose to use each locale for a particular subset of those purposes.

Categories of Activities that Locales Affect

The purposes that locales serve are grouped into categories, so that a user or a program can choose the locale for each category independently. Here is a table of categories; each name is both an environment variable that a user can set, and a macro name that you can use as an argument to setlocale.

LC_COLLATE
This category applies to collation of strings (functions strcoll and strxfrm); see section Collation Functions.
LC_CTYPE
This category applies to classification and conversion of characters, and to multibyte and wide characters; see section Character Handling and section Extended Characters.
LC_MONETARY
This category applies to formatting monetary values; see section Numeric Formatting.
LC_NUMERIC
This category applies to formatting numeric values that are not monetary; see section Numeric Formatting.
LC_TIME
This category applies to formatting date and time values; see section Formatting Date and Time.
LC_MESSAGES
This category applies to selecting the language used in the user interface for message translation.
LC_ALL
This is not an environment variable; it is only a macro that you can use with setlocale to set a single locale for all purposes.
LANG
If this environment variable is defined, its value specifies the locale to use for all purposes except as overridden by the variables above.

How Programs Set the Locale

A C program inherits its locale environment variables when it starts up. This happens automatically. However, these variables do not automatically control the locale used by the library functions, because ISO C says that all programs start by default in the standard `C' locale. To use the locales specified by the environment, you must call setlocale. Call it as follows:

setlocale (LC_ALL, "");

to select a locale based on the appropriate environment variables.

You can also use setlocale to specify a particular locale, for general use or for a specific category.

The symbols in this section are defined in the header file `locale.h'.

Function: char * setlocale (int category, const char *locale)
The function setlocale sets the current locale for category category to locale.

If category is LC_ALL, this specifies the locale for all purposes. The other possible values of category specify an individual purpose (see section Categories of Activities that Locales Affect).

You can also use this function to find out the current locale by passing a null pointer as the locale argument. In this case, setlocale returns a string that is the name of the locale currently selected for category category.

The string returned by setlocale can be overwritten by subsequent calls, so you should make a copy of the string (see section Copying and Concatenation) if you want to save it past any further calls to setlocale. (The standard library is guaranteed never to call setlocale itself.)

You should not modify the string returned by setlocale. It might be the same string that was passed as an argument in a previous call to setlocale.

When you read the current locale for category LC_ALL, the value encodes the entire combination of selected locales for all categories. In this case, the value is not just a single locale name. In fact, we don't make any promises about what it looks like. But if you specify the same "locale name" with LC_ALL in a subsequent call to setlocale, it restores the same combination of locale selections.

When the locale argument is not a null pointer, the string returned by setlocale reflects the newly modified locale.

If you specify an empty string for locale, this means to read the appropriate environment variable and use its value to select the locale for category.

If you specify an invalid locale name, setlocale returns a null pointer and leaves the current locale unchanged.

Here is an example showing how you might use setlocale to temporarily switch to a new locale.

#include <stddef.h>
#include <locale.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>

void
with_other_locale (char *new_locale,
                   void (*subroutine) (int),
                   int argument)
{
  char *old_locale, *saved_locale;

  /* Get the name of the current locale.  */
  old_locale = setlocale (LC_ALL, NULL);

  /* Copy the name so it won't be clobbered by setlocale. */
  saved_locale = strdup (old_locale);
  if (old_locale == NULL)
    fatal ("Out of memory");

  /* Now change the locale and do some stuff with it. */
  setlocale (LC_ALL, new_locale);
  (*subroutine) (argument);

  /* Restore the original locale. */
  setlocale (LC_ALL, saved_locale);
  free (saved_locale);
}

Portability Note: Some ISO C systems may define additional locale categories. For portability, assume that any symbol beginning with `LC_' might be defined in `locale.h'.

Standard Locales

The only locale names you can count on finding on all operating systems are these three standard ones:

"C"
This is the standard C locale. The attributes and behavior it provides are specified in the ISO C standard. When your program starts up, it initially uses this locale by default.
"POSIX"
This is the standard POSIX locale. Currently, it is an alias for the standard C locale.
""
The empty name says to select a locale based on environment variables. See section Categories of Activities that Locales Affect.

Defining and installing named locales is normally a responsibility of the system administrator at your site (or the person who installed the GNU C library). Some systems may allow users to create locales, but we don't discuss that here.

If your program needs to use something other than the `C' locale, it will be more portable if you use whatever locale the user specifies with the environment, rather than trying to specify some non-standard locale explicitly by name. Remember, different machines might have different sets of locales installed.

Numeric Formatting

When you want to format a number or a currency amount using the conventions of the current locale, you can use the function localeconv to get the data on how to do it. The function localeconv is declared in the header file `locale.h'.

Function: struct lconv * localeconv (void)
The localeconv function returns a pointer to a structure whose components contain information about how numeric and monetary values should be formatted in the current locale.

You shouldn't modify the structure or its contents. The structure might be overwritten by subsequent calls to localeconv, or by calls to setlocale, but no other function in the library overwrites this value.

Data Type: struct lconv
This is the data type of the value returned by localeconv.

If a member of the structure struct lconv has type char, and the value is CHAR_MAX, it means that the current locale has no value for that parameter.

Generic Numeric Formatting Parameters

These are the standard members of struct lconv; there may be others.

char *decimal_point
char *mon_decimal_point
These are the decimal-point separators used in formatting non-monetary and monetary quantities, respectively. In the `C' locale, the value of decimal_point is ".", and the value of mon_decimal_point is "".
char *thousands_sep
char *mon_thousands_sep
These are the separators used to delimit groups of digits to the left of the decimal point in formatting non-monetary and monetary quantities, respectively. In the `C' locale, both members have a value of "" (the empty string).
char *grouping
char *mon_grouping
These are strings that specify how to group the digits to the left of the decimal point. grouping applies to non-monetary quantities and mon_grouping applies to monetary quantities. Use either thousands_sep or mon_thousands_sep to separate the digit groups. Each string is made up of decimal numbers separated by semicolons. Successive numbers (from left to right) give the sizes of successive groups (from right to left, starting at the decimal point). The last number in the string is used over and over for all the remaining groups. If the last integer is -1, it means that there is no more grouping--or, put another way, any remaining digits form one large group without separators. For example, if grouping is "4;3;2", the correct grouping for the number 123456787654321 is `12', `34', `56', `78', `765', `4321'. This uses a group of 4 digits at the end, preceded by a group of 3 digits, preceded by groups of 2 digits (as many as needed). With a separator of `,', the number would be printed as `12,34,56,78,765,4321'. A value of "3" indicates repeated groups of three digits, as normally used in the U.S. In the standard `C' locale, both grouping and mon_grouping have a value of "". This value specifies no grouping at all.
char int_frac_digits
char frac_digits
These are small integers indicating how many fractional digits (to the right of the decimal point) should be displayed in a monetary value in international and local formats, respectively. (Most often, both members have the same value.) In the standard `C' locale, both of these members have the value CHAR_MAX, meaning "unspecified". The ISO standard doesn't say what to do when you find this the value; we recommend printing no fractional digits. (This locale also specifies the empty string for mon_decimal_point, so printing any fractional digits would be confusing!)

Printing the Currency Symbol

These members of the struct lconv structure specify how to print the symbol to identify a monetary value--the international analog of `$' for US dollars.

Each country has two standard currency symbols. The local currency symbol is used commonly within the country, while the international currency symbol is used internationally to refer to that country's currency when it is necessary to indicate the country unambiguously.

For example, many countries use the dollar as their monetary unit, and when dealing with international currencies it's important to specify that one is dealing with (say) Canadian dollars instead of U.S. dollars or Australian dollars. But when the context is known to be Canada, there is no need to make this explicit--dollar amounts are implicitly assumed to be in Canadian dollars.

char *currency_symbol
The local currency symbol for the selected locale. In the standard `C' locale, this member has a value of "" (the empty string), meaning "unspecified". The ISO standard doesn't say what to do when you find this value; we recommend you simply print the empty string as you would print any other string found in the appropriate member.
char *int_curr_symbol
The international currency symbol for the selected locale. The value of int_curr_symbol should normally consist of a three-letter abbreviation determined by the international standard ISO 4217 Codes for the Representation of Currency and Funds, followed by a one-character separator (often a space). In the standard `C' locale, this member has a value of "" (the empty string), meaning "unspecified". We recommend you simply print the empty string as you would print any other string found in the appropriate member.
char p_cs_precedes
char n_cs_precedes
These members are 1 if the currency_symbol string should precede the value of a monetary amount, or 0 if the string should follow the value. The p_cs_precedes member applies to positive amounts (or zero), and the n_cs_precedes member applies to negative amounts. In the standard `C' locale, both of these members have a value of CHAR_MAX, meaning "unspecified". The ISO standard doesn't say what to do when you find this value, but we recommend printing the currency symbol before the amount. That's right for most countries. In other words, treat all nonzero values alike in these members. The POSIX standard says that these two members apply to the int_curr_symbol as well as the currency_symbol. The ISO C standard seems to imply that they should apply only to the currency_symbol---so the int_curr_symbol should always precede the amount. We can only guess which of these (if either) matches the usual conventions for printing international currency symbols. Our guess is that they should always precede the amount. If we find out a reliable answer, we will put it here.
char p_sep_by_space
char n_sep_by_space
These members are 1 if a space should appear between the currency_symbol string and the amount, or 0 if no space should appear. The p_sep_by_space member applies to positive amounts (or zero), and the n_sep_by_space member applies to negative amounts. In the standard `C' locale, both of these members have a value of CHAR_MAX, meaning "unspecified". The ISO standard doesn't say what you should do when you find this value; we suggest you treat it as one (print a space). In other words, treat all nonzero values alike in these members. These members apply only to currency_symbol. When you use int_curr_symbol, you never print an additional space, because int_curr_symbol itself contains the appropriate separator. The POSIX standard says that these two members apply to the int_curr_symbol as well as the currency_symbol. But an example in the ISO C standard clearly implies that they should apply only to the currency_symbol---that the int_curr_symbol contains any appropriate separator, so you should never print an additional space. Based on what we know now, we recommend you ignore these members when printing international currency symbols, and print no extra space.

Printing the Sign of an Amount of Money

These members of the struct lconv structure specify how to print the sign (if any) in a monetary value.

char *positive_sign
char *negative_sign
These are strings used to indicate positive (or zero) and negative (respectively) monetary quantities. In the standard `C' locale, both of these members have a value of "" (the empty string), meaning "unspecified". The ISO standard doesn't say what to do when you find this value; we recommend printing positive_sign as you find it, even if it is empty. For a negative value, print negative_sign as you find it unless both it and positive_sign are empty, in which case print `-' instead. (Failing to indicate the sign at all seems rather unreasonable.)
char p_sign_posn
char n_sign_posn
These members have values that are small integers indicating how to position the sign for nonnegative and negative monetary quantities, respectively. (The string used by the sign is what was specified with positive_sign or negative_sign.) The possible values are as follows:
0
The currency symbol and quantity should be surrounded by parentheses.
1
Print the sign string before the quantity and currency symbol.
2
Print the sign string after the quantity and currency symbol.
3
Print the sign string right before the currency symbol.
4
Print the sign string right after the currency symbol.
CHAR_MAX
"Unspecified". Both members have this value in the standard `C' locale.
The ISO standard doesn't say what you should do when the value is CHAR_MAX. We recommend you print the sign after the currency symbol.

It is not clear whether you should let these members apply to the international currency format or not. POSIX says you should, but intuition plus the examples in the ISO C standard suggest you should not. We hope that someone who knows well the conventions for formatting monetary quantities will tell us what we should recommend.

Non-Local Exits

Sometimes when your program detects an unusual situation inside a deeply nested set of function calls, you would like to be able to immediately return to an outer level of control. This section describes how you can do such non-local exits using the setjmp and longjmp functions.

Introduction to Non-Local Exits

As an example of a situation where a non-local exit can be useful, suppose you have an interactive program that has a "main loop" that prompts for and executes commands. Suppose the "read" command reads input from a file, doing some lexical analysis and parsing of the input while processing it. If a low-level input error is detected, it would be useful to be able to return immediately to the "main loop" instead of having to make each of the lexical analysis, parsing, and processing phases all have to explicitly deal with error situations initially detected by nested calls.

(On the other hand, if each of these phases has to do a substantial amount of cleanup when it exits--such as closing files, deallocating buffers or other data structures, and the like--then it can be more appropriate to do a normal return and have each phase do its own cleanup, because a non-local exit would bypass the intervening phases and their associated cleanup code entirely. Alternatively, you could use a non-local exit but do the cleanup explicitly either before or after returning to the "main loop".)

In some ways, a non-local exit is similar to using the `return' statement to return from a function. But while `return' abandons only a single function call, transferring control back to the point at which it was called, a non-local exit can potentially abandon many levels of nested function calls.

You identify return points for non-local exits calling the function setjmp. This function saves information about the execution environment in which the call to setjmp appears in an object of type jmp_buf. Execution of the program continues normally after the call to setjmp, but if a exit is later made to this return point by calling longjmp with the corresponding jmp_buf object, control is transferred back to the point where setjmp was called. The return value from setjmp is used to distinguish between an ordinary return and a return made by a call to longjmp, so calls to setjmp usually appear in an `if' statement.

Here is how the example program described above might be set up:

#include <setjmp.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>

jmp_buf main_loop;

void 
abort_to_main_loop (int status)
{
  longjmp (main_loop, status);
}

int
main (void)
{
  while (1)
    if (setjmp (main_loop))
      puts ("Back at main loop....");
    else
      do_command ();
}

void 
do_command (void)
{
  char buffer[128];
  if (fgets (buffer, 128, stdin) == NULL)
    abort_to_main_loop (-1);
  else
    exit (EXIT_SUCCESS);
}

The function abort_to_main_loop causes an immediate transfer of control back to the main loop of the program, no matter where it is called from.

The flow of control inside the main function may appear a little mysterious at first, but it is actually a common idiom with setjmp. A normal call to setjmp returns zero, so the "else" clause of the conditional is executed. If abort_to_main_loop is called somewhere within the execution of do_command, then it actually appears as if the same call to setjmp in main were returning a second time with a value of -1.

So, the general pattern for using setjmp looks something like:

if (setjmp (buffer))
  /* Code to clean up after premature return. */
  ...
else
  /* Code to be executed normally after setting up the return point. */
  ...

Details of Non-Local Exits

Here are the details on the functions and data structures used for performing non-local exits. These facilities are declared in `setjmp.h'.

Data Type: jmp_buf
Objects of type jmp_buf hold the state information to be restored by a non-local exit. The contents of a jmp_buf identify a specific place to return to.

Macro: int setjmp (jmp_buf state)
When called normally, setjmp stores information about the execution state of the program in state and returns zero. If longjmp is later used to perform a non-local exit to this state, setjmp returns a nonzero value.

Function: void longjmp (jmp_buf state, int value)
This function restores current execution to the state saved in state, and continues execution from the call to setjmp that established that return point. Returning from setjmp by means of longjmp returns the value argument that was passed to longjmp, rather than 0. (But if value is given as 0, setjmp returns 1).

There are a lot of obscure but important restrictions on the use of setjmp and longjmp. Most of these restrictions are present because non-local exits require a fair amount of magic on the part of the C compiler and can interact with other parts of the language in strange ways.

The setjmp function is actually a macro without an actual function definition, so you shouldn't try to `#undef' it or take its address. In addition, calls to setjmp are safe in only the following contexts:

Return points are valid only during the dynamic extent of the function that called setjmp to establish them. If you longjmp to a return point that was established in a function that has already returned, unpredictable and disastrous things are likely to happen.

You should use a nonzero value argument to longjmp. While longjmp refuses to pass back a zero argument as the return value from setjmp, this is intended as a safety net against accidental misuse and is not really good programming style.

When you perform a non-local exit, accessible objects generally retain whatever values they had at the time longjmp was called. The exception is that the values of automatic variables local to the function containing the setjmp call that have been changed since the call to setjmp are indeterminate, unless you have declared them volatile.

Non-Local Exits and Signals

In BSD Unix systems, setjmp and longjmp also save and restore the set of blocked signals; see section Blocking Signals. However, the POSIX.1 standard requires setjmp and longjmp not to change the set of blocked signals, and provides an additional pair of functions (sigsetjmp and sigsetjmp) to get the BSD behavior.

The behavior of setjmp and longjmp in the GNU library is controlled by feature test macros; see section Feature Test Macros. The default in the GNU system is the POSIX.1 behavior rather than the BSD behavior.

The facilities in this section are declared in the header file `setjmp.h'.

Data Type: sigjmp_buf
This is similar to jmp_buf, except that it can also store state information about the set of blocked signals.

Function: int sigsetjmp (sigjmp_buf state, int savesigs)
This is similar to setjmp. If savesigs is nonzero, the set of blocked signals is saved in state and will be restored if a siglongjmp is later performed with this state.

Function: void siglongjmp (sigjmp_buf state, int value)
This is similar to longjmp except for the type of its state argument. If the sigsetjmp call that set this state used a nonzero savesigs flag, siglongjmp also restores the set of blocked signals.

Signal Handling

A signal is a software interrupt delivered to a process. The operating system uses signals to report exceptional situations to an executing program. Some signals report errors such as references to invalid memory addresses; others report asynchronous events, such as disconnection of a phone line.

The GNU C library defines a variety of signal types, each for a particular kind of event. Some kinds of events make it inadvisable or impossible for the program to proceed as usual, and the corresponding signals normally abort the program. Other kinds of signals that report harmless events are ignored by default.

If you anticipate an event that causes signals, you can define a handler function and tell the operating system to run it when that particular type of signal arrives.

Finally, one process can send a signal to another process; this allows a parent process to abort a child, or two related processes to communicate and synchronize.

Basic Concepts of Signals

This section explains basic concepts of how signals are generated, what happens after a signal is delivered, and how programs can handle signals.

Some Kinds of Signals

A signal reports the occurrence of an exceptional event. These are some of the events that can cause (or generate, or raise) a signal:

Each of these kinds of events (excepting explicit calls to kill and raise) generates its own particular kind of signal. The various kinds of signals are listed and described in detail in section Standard Signals.

Concepts of Signal Generation

In general, the events that generate signals fall into three major categories: errors, external events, and explicit requests.

An error means that a program has done something invalid and cannot continue execution. But not all kinds of errors generate signals--in fact, most do not. For example, opening a nonexistent file is an error, but it does not raise a signal; instead, open returns -1. In general, errors that are necessarily associated with certain library functions are reported by returning a value that indicates an error. The errors which raise signals are those which can happen anywhere in the program, not just in library calls. These include division by zero and invalid memory addresses.

An external event generally has to do with I/O or other processes. These include the arrival of input, the expiration of a timer, and the termination of a child process.

An explicit request means the use of a library function such as kill whose purpose is specifically to generate a signal.

Signals may be generated synchronously or asynchronously. A synchronous signal pertains to a specific action in the program, and is delivered (unless blocked) during that action. Most errors generate signals synchronously, and so do explicit requests by a process to generate a signal for that same process. On some machines, certain kinds of hardware errors (usually floating-point exceptions) are not reported completely synchronously, but may arrive a few instructions later.

Asynchronous signals are generated by events outside the control of the process that receives them. These signals arrive at unpredictable times during execution. External events generate signals asynchronously, and so do explicit requests that apply to some other process.

A given type of signal is either typically synchronous or typically asynchronous. For example, signals for errors are typically synchronous because errors generate signals synchronously. But any type of signal can be generated synchronously or asynchronously with an explicit request.

How Signals Are Delivered

When a signal is generated, it becomes pending. Normally it remains pending for just a short period of time and then is delivered to the process that was signaled. However, if that kind of signal is currently blocked, it may remain pending indefinitely--until signals of that kind are unblocked. Once unblocked, it will be delivered immediately. See section Blocking Signals.

When the signal is delivered, whether right away or after a long delay, the specified action for that signal is taken. For certain signals, such as SIGKILL and SIGSTOP, the action is fixed, but for most signals, the program has a choice: ignore the signal, specify a handler function, or accept the default action for that kind of signal. The program specifies its choice using functions such as signal or sigaction (see section Specifying Signal Actions). We sometimes say that a handler catches the signal. While the handler is running, that particular signal is normally blocked.

If the specified action for a kind of signal is to ignore it, then any such signal which is generated is discarded immediately. This happens even if the signal is also blocked at the time. A signal discarded in this way will never be delivered, not even if the program subsequently specifies a different action for that kind of signal and then unblocks it.

If a signal arrives which the program has neither handled nor ignored, its default action takes place. Each kind of signal has its own default action, documented below (see section Standard Signals). For most kinds of signals, the default action is to terminate the process. For certain kinds of signals that represent "harmless" events, the default action is to do nothing.

When a signal terminates a process, its parent process can determine the cause of termination by examining the termination status code reported by the wait or waitpid functions. (This is discussed in more detail in section Process Completion.) The information it can get includes the fact that termination was due to a signal, and the kind of signal involved. If a program you run from a shell is terminated by a signal, the shell typically prints some kind of error message.

The signals that normally represent program errors have a special property: when one of these signals terminates the process, it also writes a core dump file which records the state of the process at the time of termination. You can examine the core dump with a debugger to investigate what caused the error.

If you raise a "program error" signal by explicit request, and this terminates the process, it makes a core dump file just as if the signal had been due directly to an error.

Standard Signals

This section lists the names for various standard kinds of signals and describes what kind of event they mean. Each signal name is a macro which stands for a positive integer--the signal number for that kind of signal. Your programs should never make assumptions about the numeric code for a particular kind of signal, but rather refer to them always by the names defined here. This is because the number for a given kind of signal can vary from system to system, but the meanings of the names are standardized and fairly uniform.

The signal names are defined in the header file `signal.h'.

Macro: int NSIG
The value of this symbolic constant is the total number of signals defined. Since the signal numbers are allocated consecutively, NSIG is also one greater than the largest defined signal number.

Program Error Signals

The following signals are generated when a serious program error is detected by the operating system or the computer itself. In general, all of these signals are indications that your program is seriously broken in some way, and there's usually no way to continue the computation which encountered the error.

Some programs handle program error signals in order to tidy up before terminating; for example, programs that turn off echoing of terminal input should handle program error signals in order to turn echoing back on. The handler should end by specifying the default action for the signal that happened and then reraising it; this will cause the program to terminate with that signal, as if it had not had a handler. (See section Handlers That Terminate the Process.)

Termination is the sensible ultimate outcome from a program error in most programs. However, programming systems such as Lisp that can load compiled user programs might need to keep executing even if a user program incurs an error. These programs have handlers which use longjmp to return control to the command level.

The default action for all of these signals is to cause the process to terminate. If you block or ignore these signals or establish handlers for them that return normally, your program will probably break horribly when such signals happen, unless they are generated by raise or kill instead of a real error.

When one of these program error signals terminates a process, it also writes a core dump file which records the state of the process at the time of termination. The core dump file is named `core' and is written in whichever directory is current in the process at the time. (On the GNU system, you can specify the file name for core dumps with the environment variable COREFILE.) The purpose of core dump files is so that you can examine them with a debugger to investigate what caused the error.

Macro: int SIGFPE
The SIGFPE signal reports a fatal arithmetic error. Although the name is derived from "floating-point exception", this signal actually covers all arithmetic errors, including division by zero and overflow. If a program stores integer data in a location which is then used in a floating-point operation, this often causes an "invalid operation" exception, because the processor cannot recognize the data as a floating-point number.

Actual floating-point exceptions are a complicated subject because there are many types of exceptions with subtly different meanings, and the SIGFPE signal doesn't distinguish between them. The IEEE Standard for Binary Floating-Point Arithmetic (ANSI/IEEE Std 754-1985 and ANSI/IEEE Std 854-1987) defines various floating-point exceptions and requires conforming computer systems to report their occurrences. However, this standard does not specify how the exceptions are reported, or what kinds of handling and control the operating system can offer to the programmer.

BSD systems provide the SIGFPE handler with an extra argument that distinguishes various causes of the exception. In order to access this argument, you must define the handler to accept two arguments, which means you must cast it to a one-argument function type in order to establish the handler. The GNU library does provide this extra argument, but the value is meaningful only on operating systems that provide the information (BSD systems and GNU systems).

FPE_INTOVF_TRAP
Integer overflow (impossible in a C program unless you enable overflow trapping in a hardware-specific fashion).
FPE_INTDIV_TRAP
Integer division by zero.
FPE_SUBRNG_TRAP
Subscript-range (something that C programs never check for).
FPE_FLTOVF_TRAP
Floating overflow trap.
FPE_FLTDIV_TRAP
Floating/decimal division by zero.
FPE_FLTUND_TRAP
Floating underflow trap. (Trapping on floating underflow is not normally enabled.)
FPE_DECOVF_TRAP
Decimal overflow trap. (Only a few machines have decimal arithmetic and C never uses it.)

Macro: int SIGILL
The name of this signal is derived from "illegal instruction"; it usually means your program is trying to execute garbage or a privileged instruction. Since the C compiler generates only valid instructions, SIGILL typically indicates that the executable file is corrupted, or that you are trying to execute data. Some common ways of getting into the latter situation are by passing an invalid object where a pointer to a function was expected, or by writing past the end of an automatic array (or similar problems with pointers to automatic variables) and corrupting other data on the stack such as the return address of a stack frame.

SIGILL can also be generated when the stack overflows, or when the system has trouble running the handler for a signal.

Macro: int SIGSEGV
This signal is generated when a program tries to read or write outside the memory that is allocated for it, or to write memory that can only be read. (Actually, the signals only occur when the program goes far enough outside to be detected by the system's memory protection mechanism.) The name is an abbreviation for "segmentation violation".

Common ways of getting a SIGSEGV condition include dereferencing a null or uninitialized pointer, or when you use a pointer to step through an array, but fail to check for the end of the array. It varies among systems whether dereferencing a null pointer generates SIGSEGV or SIGBUS.

Macro: int SIGBUS
This signal is generated when an invalid pointer is dereferenced. Like SIGSEGV, this signal is typically the result of dereferencing an uninitialized pointer. The difference between the two is that SIGSEGV indicates an invalid access to valid memory, while SIGBUS indicates an access to an invalid address. In particular, SIGBUS signals often result from dereferencing a misaligned pointer, such as referring to a four-word integer at an address not divisible by four. (Each kind of computer has its own requirements for address alignment.)

The name of this signal is an abbreviation for "bus error".

Macro: int SIGABRT
This signal indicates an error detected by the program itself and reported by calling abort. See section Aborting a Program.

Macro: int SIGIOT
Generated by the PDP-11 "iot" instruction. On most machines, this is just another name for SIGABRT.

Macro: int SIGTRAP
Generated by the machine's breakpoint instruction, and possibly other trap instructions. This signal is used by debuggers. Your program will probably only see SIGTRAP if it is somehow executing bad instructions.

Macro: int SIGEMT
Emulator trap; this results from certain unimplemented instructions which might be emulated in software, or the operating system's failure to properly emulate them.

Macro: int SIGSYS
Bad system call; that is to say, the instruction to trap to the operating system was executed, but the code number for the system call to perform was invalid.

Termination Signals

These signals are all used to tell a process to terminate, in one way or another. They have different names because they're used for slightly different purposes, and programs might want to handle them differently.

The reason for handling these signals is usually so your program can tidy up as appropriate before actually terminating. For example, you might want to save state information, delete temporary files, or restore the previous terminal modes. Such a handler should end by specifying the default action for the signal that happened and then reraising it; this will cause the program to terminate with that signal, as if it had not had a handler. (See section Handlers That Terminate the Process.)

The (obvious) default action for all of these signals is to cause the process to terminate.

Macro: int SIGTERM
The SIGTERM signal is a generic signal used to cause program termination. Unlike SIGKILL, this signal can be blocked, handled, and ignored. It is the normal way to politely ask a program to terminate.

The shell command kill generates SIGTERM by default.

Macro: int SIGINT
The SIGINT ("program interrupt") signal is sent when the user types the INTR character (normally C-c). See section Special Characters, for information about terminal driver support for C-c.

Macro: int SIGQUIT
The SIGQUIT signal is similar to SIGINT, except that it's controlled by a different key--the QUIT character, usually C-\---and produces a core dump when it terminates the process, just like a program error signal. You can think of this as a program error condition "detected" by the user.

See section Program Error Signals, for information about core dumps. See section Special Characters, for information about terminal driver support.

Certain kinds of cleanups are best omitted in handling SIGQUIT. For example, if the program creates temporary files, it should handle the other termination requests by deleting the temporary files. But it is better for SIGQUIT not to delete them, so that the user can examine them in conjunction with the core dump.

Macro: int SIGKILL
The SIGKILL signal is used to cause immediate program termination. It cannot be handled or ignored, and is therefore always fatal. It is also not possible to block this signal.

This signal is usually generated only by explicit request. Since it cannot be handled, you should generate it only as a last resort, after first trying a less drastic method such as C-c or SIGTERM. If a process does not respond to any other termination signals, sending it a SIGKILL signal will almost always cause it to go away.

In fact, if SIGKILL fails to terminate a process, that by itself constitutes an operating system bug which you should report.

The system will generate SIGKILL for a process itself under some unusual conditions where the program cannot possible continue to run (even to run a signal handler).

Macro: int SIGHUP
The SIGHUP ("hang-up") signal is used to report that the user's terminal is disconnected, perhaps because a network or telephone connection was broken. For more information about this, see section Control Modes.

This signal is also used to report the termination of the controlling process on a terminal to jobs associated with that session; this termination effectively disconnects all processes in the session from the controlling terminal. For more information, see section Termination Internals.

Alarm Signals

These signals are used to indicate the expiration of timers. See section Setting an Alarm, for information about functions that cause these signals to be sent.

The default behavior for these signals is to cause program termination. This default is rarely useful, but no other default would be useful; most of the ways of using these signals would require handler functions in any case.

Macro: int SIGALRM
This signal typically indicates expiration of a timer that measures real or clock time. It is used by the alarm function, for example.

Macro: int SIGVTALRM
This signal typically indicates expiration of a timer that measures CPU time used by the current process. The name is an abbreviation for "virtual time alarm".

Macro: int SIGPROF
This signal is typically indicates expiration of a timer that measures both CPU time used by the current process, and CPU time expended on behalf of the process by the system. Such a timer is used to implement code profiling facilities, hence the name of this signal.