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OPEN(2)			   Linux Programmer's Manual		       OPEN(2)

       open, creat - open and possibly create a file or device

       #include <sys/types.h>
       #include <sys/stat.h>
       #include <fcntl.h>

       int open(const char *pathname, int flags);
       int open(const char *pathname, int flags, mode_t mode);

       int creat(const char *pathname, mode_t mode);

       Given a pathname for a file, open() returns a file descriptor, a small,
       nonnegative integer  for	 use  in  subsequent  system  calls  (read(2),
       write(2), lseek(2), fcntl(2), etc.).  The file descriptor returned by a
       successful call will be the lowest-numbered file	 descriptor  not  cur‐
       rently open for the process.

       By  default,  the  new  file descriptor is set to remain open across an
       execve(2) (i.e., the  FD_CLOEXEC	 file  descriptor  flag	 described  in
       fcntl(2)	 is  initially	disabled; the O_CLOEXEC flag, described below,
       can be used to change this default).  The file offset  is  set  to  the
       beginning of the file (see lseek(2)).

       A  call	to open() creates a new open file description, an entry in the
       system-wide table of open files.	 This entry records  the  file	offset
       and  the	 file status flags (modifiable via the fcntl(2) F_SETFL opera‐
       tion).  A file descriptor is a reference to one of these entries;  this
       reference is unaffected if pathname is subsequently removed or modified
       to refer to a different file.  The new open file	 description  is  ini‐
       tially  not  shared  with  any other process, but sharing may arise via

       The argument flags must include one  of	the  following	access	modes:
       O_RDONLY,  O_WRONLY,  or	 O_RDWR.  These request opening the file read-
       only, write-only, or read/write, respectively.

       In addition, zero or more file creation flags and file status flags can
       be  bitwise-or'd	 in  flags.   The  file	 creation flags are O_CLOEXEC,
       O_TTY_INIT.   The  file	status	flags  are  all of the remaining flags
       listed below.  The distinction between these two	 groups	 of  flags  is
       that  the  file status flags can be retrieved and (in some cases) modi‐
       fied using fcntl(2).  The full list of file  creation  flags  and  file
       status flags is as follows:

	      The  file	 is  opened in append mode.  Before each write(2), the
	      file offset is positioned at the end of the  file,  as  if  with
	      lseek(2).	  O_APPEND may lead to corrupted files on NFS filesys‐
	      tems if more than one process appends data to a  file  at	 once.
	      This is because NFS does not support appending to a file, so the
	      client kernel has to simulate it, which can't be done without  a
	      race condition.

	      Enable  signal-driven  I/O: generate a signal (SIGIO by default,
	      but this can be changed  via  fcntl(2))  when  input  or	output
	      becomes  possible	 on  this  file	 descriptor.   This feature is
	      available only  for  terminals,  pseudoterminals,	 sockets,  and
	      (since  Linux  2.6)  pipes  and FIFOs.  See fcntl(2) for further

       O_CLOEXEC (Since Linux 2.6.23)
	      Enable the close-on-exec	flag  for  the	new  file  descriptor.
	      Specifying  this	flag  permits  a  program  to avoid additional
	      fcntl(2) F_SETFD operations to set the FD_CLOEXEC	 flag.	 Addi‐
	      tionally,	 use  of  this flag is essential in some multithreaded
	      programs since using a separate fcntl(2)	F_SETFD	 operation  to
	      set  the	FD_CLOEXEC  flag does not suffice to avoid race condi‐
	      tions where one thread opens a file descriptor at the same  time
	      as another thread does a fork(2) plus execve(2).

	      If  the file does not exist it will be created.  The owner (user
	      ID) of the file is set to the effective user ID of the  process.
	      The  group  ownership  (group ID) is set either to the effective
	      group ID of the process or to the group ID of the parent	direc‐
	      tory  (depending	on  filesystem type and mount options, and the
	      mode of the parent directory, see the  mount  options  bsdgroups
	      and sysvgroups described in mount(8)).

	      mode specifies the permissions to use in case a new file is cre‐
	      ated.  This argument must be supplied when O_CREAT is  specified
	      in  flags;  if  O_CREAT  is not specified, then mode is ignored.
	      The effective permissions are modified by the process's umask in
	      the   usual  way:	 The  permissions  of  the  created  file  are
	      (mode & ~umask).	Note that this mode  applies  only  to	future
	      accesses of the newly created file; the open() call that creates
	      a read-only file may well return a read/write file descriptor.

	      The following symbolic constants are provided for mode:

	      S_IRWXU  00700 user (file owner) has  read,  write  and  execute

	      S_IRUSR  00400 user has read permission

	      S_IWUSR  00200 user has write permission

	      S_IXUSR  00100 user has execute permission

	      S_IRWXG  00070 group has read, write and execute permission

	      S_IRGRP  00040 group has read permission

	      S_IWGRP  00020 group has write permission

	      S_IXGRP  00010 group has execute permission

	      S_IRWXO  00007 others have read, write and execute permission

	      S_IROTH  00004 others have read permission

	      S_IWOTH  00002 others have write permission

	      S_IXOTH  00001 others have execute permission

       O_DIRECT (Since Linux 2.4.10)
	      Try  to minimize cache effects of the I/O to and from this file.
	      In general this will degrade performance, but it	is  useful  in
	      special  situations,  such  as  when  applications  do their own
	      caching.	File I/O is done directly to/from user-space  buffers.
	      The  O_DIRECT  flag  on its own makes an effort to transfer data
	      synchronously, but does not give the guarantees  of  the	O_SYNC
	      flag that data and necessary metadata are transferred.  To guar‐
	      antee synchronous I/O,  O_SYNC  must  be	used  in  addition  to
	      O_DIRECT.	 See NOTES below for further discussion.

	      A	 semantically  similar	(but  deprecated)  interface for block
	      devices is described in raw(8).

	      If pathname is not a directory, cause the open  to  fail.	  This
	      flag is Linux-specific, and was added in kernel version 2.1.126,
	      to avoid denial-of-service problems if opendir(3) is called on a
	      FIFO or tape device.

       O_EXCL Ensure  that  this call creates the file: if this flag is speci‐
	      fied in conjunction with O_CREAT, and pathname  already  exists,
	      then open() will fail.

	      When  these two flags are specified, symbolic links are not fol‐
	      lowed: if pathname is a symbolic link, then open() fails regard‐
	      less of where the symbolic link points to.

	      In  general,  the	 behavior of O_EXCL is undefined if it is used
	      without O_CREAT.	There is  one  exception:  on  Linux  2.6  and
	      later,  O_EXCL can be used without O_CREAT if pathname refers to
	      a block device.  If the block device is in  use  by  the	system
	      (e.g., mounted), open() fails with the error EBUSY.

	      On  NFS,	O_EXCL	is supported only when using NFSv3 or later on
	      kernel 2.6 or later.  In NFS environments where  O_EXCL  support
	      is not provided, programs that rely on it for performing locking
	      tasks will contain a race	 condition.   Portable	programs  that
	      want  to	perform atomic file locking using a lockfile, and need
	      to avoid reliance on NFS support for O_EXCL, can create a unique
	      file  on	the  same filesystem (e.g., incorporating hostname and
	      PID), and use link(2) to	make  a	 link  to  the	lockfile.   If
	      link(2)  returns	0,  the	 lock  is  successful.	Otherwise, use
	      stat(2) on the unique file  to  check  if	 its  link  count  has
	      increased to 2, in which case the lock is also successful.

	      (LFS)  Allow files whose sizes cannot be represented in an off_t
	      (but can be represented  in  an  off64_t)	 to  be	 opened.   The
	      _LARGEFILE64_SOURCE  macro must be defined (before including any
	      header files) in order to obtain this definition.	  Setting  the
	      _FILE_OFFSET_BITS	 feature  test	macro to 64 (rather than using
	      O_LARGEFILE) is the preferred method of accessing large files on
	      32-bit systems (see feature_test_macros(7)).

       O_NOATIME (Since Linux 2.6.8)
	      Do  not update the file last access time (st_atime in the inode)
	      when the file is read(2).	 This flag  is	intended  for  use  by
	      indexing	or  backup  programs,  where its use can significantly
	      reduce the amount of disk activity.  This flag may not be effec‐
	      tive  on	all filesystems.  One example is NFS, where the server
	      maintains the access time.

	      If pathname refers to a terminal device—see tty(4)—it  will  not
	      become  the  process's  controlling terminal even if the process
	      does not have one.

	      If pathname is a symbolic link, then the open fails.  This is  a
	      FreeBSD  extension, which was added to Linux in version 2.1.126.
	      Symbolic links in earlier components of the pathname will	 still
	      be followed.  See also O_NOPATH below.

	      When  possible, the file is opened in nonblocking mode.  Neither
	      the open() nor any subsequent operations on the file  descriptor
	      which  is	 returned will cause the calling process to wait.  For
	      the handling of FIFOs (named pipes), see also  fifo(7).	For  a
	      discussion  of  the  effect  of  O_NONBLOCK  in conjunction with
	      mandatory file locks and with file leases, see fcntl(2).

       O_PATH (since Linux 2.6.39)
	      Obtain a file descriptor that can be used for two	 purposes:  to
	      indicate a location in the filesystem tree and to perform opera‐
	      tions that act purely at the file descriptor  level.   The  file
	      itself  is not opened, and other file operations (e.g., read(2),
	      write(2), fchmod(2), fchown(2), fgetxattr(2), mmap(2)) fail with
	      the error EBADF.

	      The  following operations can be performed on the resulting file

	      *	 close(2); fchdir(2) (since Linux 3.5); fstat(2) (since	 Linux

	      *	 Duplicating  the  file	 descriptor (dup(2), fcntl(2) F_DUPFD,

	      *	 Getting and setting file descriptor flags  (fcntl(2)  F_GETFD
		 and F_SETFD).

	      *	 Retrieving  open file status flags using the fcntl(2) F_GETFL
		 operation: the returned flags will include the bit O_PATH.

	      *	 Passing the file descriptor as the  dirfd  argument  of  ope‐
		 nat(2) and the other "*at()" system calls.

	      *	 Passing  the  file  descriptor	 to another process via a UNIX
		 domain socket (see SCM_RIGHTS in unix(7)).

	      When O_PATH is specified in flags, flag bits other than O_DIREC‐
	      TORY and O_NOFOLLOW are ignored.

	      If  the O_NOFOLLOW flag is also specified, then the call returns
	      a file descriptor referring to the  symbolic  link.   This  file
	      descriptor  can be used as the dirfd argument in calls to fchow‐
	      nat(2), fstatat(2), linkat(2), and readlinkat(2) with  an	 empty
	      pathname to have the calls operate on the symbolic link.

       O_SYNC The  file	 is  opened for synchronous I/O.  Any write(2)s on the
	      resulting file descriptor will block the calling	process	 until
	      the data has been physically written to the underlying hardware.
	      But see NOTES below.

	      If the file already exists and is a regular file	and  the  open
	      mode  allows  writing  (i.e.,  is O_RDWR or O_WRONLY) it will be
	      truncated to length 0.  If the file is a FIFO or terminal device
	      file,  the  O_TRUNC  flag	 is  ignored.  Otherwise the effect of
	      O_TRUNC is unspecified.

       Some of these optional flags can be altered using  fcntl(2)  after  the
       file has been opened.

       creat()	  is	equivalent    to    open()   with   flags   equal   to

       open() and creat() return the new file descriptor, or -1	 if  an	 error
       occurred (in which case, errno is set appropriately).

       EACCES The  requested access to the file is not allowed, or search per‐
	      mission is denied for one of the directories in the path	prefix
	      of  pathname,  or the file did not exist yet and write access to
	      the parent directory is not  allowed.   (See  also  path_resolu‐

       EDQUOT Where  O_CREAT  is  specified,  the file does not exist, and the
	      user's quota of disk blocks or inodes on the filesystem has been

       EEXIST pathname already exists and O_CREAT and O_EXCL were used.

       EFAULT pathname points outside your accessible address space.


       EINTR  While  blocked  waiting  to  complete  an	 open of a slow device
	      (e.g., a FIFO; see fifo(7)), the call was interrupted by a  sig‐
	      nal handler; see signal(7).

       EINVAL The filesystem does not support the O_DIRECT flag. See NOTES for
	      more information.

       EISDIR pathname refers to a directory and the access requested involved
	      writing (that is, O_WRONLY or O_RDWR is set).

       ELOOP  Too  many symbolic links were encountered in resolving pathname,
	      or O_NOFOLLOW was specified but pathname was a symbolic link.

       EMFILE The process already has the maximum number of files open.

	      pathname was too long.

       ENFILE The system limit on the total number  of	open  files  has  been

       ENODEV pathname	refers	to  a device special file and no corresponding
	      device exists.  (This is a Linux kernel bug; in  this  situation
	      ENXIO must be returned.)

       ENOENT O_CREAT  is  not	set  and the named file does not exist.	 Or, a
	      directory component in pathname does not exist or is a  dangling
	      symbolic link.

       ENOMEM Insufficient kernel memory was available.

       ENOSPC pathname	was  to	 be created but the device containing pathname
	      has no room for the new file.

	      A component used as a directory in pathname is not, in  fact,  a
	      directory,  or  O_DIRECTORY was specified and pathname was not a

       ENXIO  O_NONBLOCK | O_WRONLY is set, the named file is a	 FIFO  and  no
	      process has the file open for reading.  Or, the file is a device
	      special file and no corresponding device exists.

	      pathname refers to a regular  file  that	is  too	 large	to  be
	      opened.  The usual scenario here is that an application compiled
	      on a 32-bit platform  without  -D_FILE_OFFSET_BITS=64  tried  to
	      open a file whose size exceeds (2<<31)-1 bits; see also O_LARGE‐
	      FILE above.  This is the error  specified	 by  POSIX.1-2001;  in
	      kernels before 2.6.24, Linux gave the error EFBIG for this case.

       EPERM  The  O_NOATIME  flag was specified, but the effective user ID of
	      the caller did not match the owner of the file  and  the	caller
	      was not privileged (CAP_FOWNER).

       EROFS  pathname	refers	to  a file on a read-only filesystem and write
	      access was requested.

	      pathname refers to an executable image which is currently	 being
	      executed and write access was requested.

	      The O_NONBLOCK flag was specified, and an incompatible lease was
	      held on the file (see fcntl(2)).

       SVr4, 4.3BSD, POSIX.1-2001.  The	 O_DIRECTORY,  O_NOATIME,  O_NOFOLLOW,
       and  O_PATH  flags  are	Linux-specific,	 and  one  may	need to define
       _GNU_SOURCE (before including any header files) to obtain their defini‐

       The  O_CLOEXEC  flag is not specified in POSIX.1-2001, but is specified
       in POSIX.1-2008.

       O_DIRECT is not specified in  POSIX;  one  has  to  define  _GNU_SOURCE
       (before including any header files) to get its definition.

       Under  Linux,  the O_NONBLOCK flag indicates that one wants to open but
       does not necessarily have the intention to read or write.  This is typ‐
       ically  used  to open devices in order to get a file descriptor for use
       with ioctl(2).

       Unlike the other values that can be specified in flags, the access mode
       values  O_RDONLY, O_WRONLY, and O_RDWR, do not specify individual bits.
       Rather, they define the low order two bits of flags,  and  are  defined
       respectively  as 0, 1, and 2.  In other words, the combination O_RDONLY
       | O_WRONLY is a logical error, and certainly does  not  have  the  same
       meaning as O_RDWR.  Linux reserves the special, nonstandard access mode
       3 (binary 11) in flags to mean: check for read and write permission  on
       the  file  and  return  a  descriptor that can't be used for reading or
       writing.	 This nonstandard access mode is used by some Linux drivers to
       return  a  descriptor  that  is	to  be	used  only for device-specific
       ioctl(2) operations.

       The (undefined) effect of O_RDONLY | O_TRUNC varies  among  implementa‐
       tions.  On many systems the file is actually truncated.

       There  are  many infelicities in the protocol underlying NFS, affecting
       amongst others O_SYNC and O_NDELAY.

       POSIX provides for three different variants of synchronized I/O, corre‐
       sponding	  to  the  flags  O_SYNC,  O_DSYNC,  and  O_RSYNC.   Currently
       (2.6.31), Linux implements only O_SYNC,	but  glibc  maps  O_DSYNC  and
       O_RSYNC	to the same numerical value as O_SYNC.	Most Linux filesystems
       don't actually implement the POSIX O_SYNC semantics, which require  all
       metadata	 updates  of a write to be on disk on returning to user space,
       but only the O_DSYNC semantics, which require only actual file data and
       metadata	 necessary to retrieve it to be on disk by the time the system
       call returns.

       Note that open() can open device special files, but creat() cannot cre‐
       ate them; use mknod(2) instead.

       On  NFS	filesystems with UID mapping enabled, open() may return a file
       descriptor but, for example, read(2) requests are denied	 with  EACCES.
       This is because the client performs open() by checking the permissions,
       but UID mapping	is  performed  by  the	server	upon  read  and	 write

       If  the	file is newly created, its st_atime, st_ctime, st_mtime fields
       (respectively, time of last access, time of  last  status  change,  and
       time  of	 last  modification; see stat(2)) are set to the current time,
       and so are the st_ctime and st_mtime fields of  the  parent  directory.
       Otherwise,  if  the  file  is modified because of the O_TRUNC flag, its
       st_ctime and st_mtime fields are set to the current time.

       The O_DIRECT flag may impose alignment restrictions on the  length  and
       address	of  user-space	buffers and the file offset of I/Os.  In Linux
       alignment restrictions vary by filesystem and kernel version and	 might
       be  absent entirely.  However there is currently no filesystem-indepen‐
       dent interface for an application to discover these restrictions for  a
       given  file  or	filesystem.  Some filesystems provide their own inter‐
       faces for doing	so,  for  example  the	XFS_IOC_DIOINFO	 operation  in

       Under  Linux  2.4, transfer sizes, and the alignment of the user buffer
       and the file offset must all be multiples of the logical block size  of
       the filesystem.	Under Linux 2.6, alignment to 512-byte boundaries suf‐

       O_DIRECT I/Os should never be run concurrently with the fork(2)	system
       call, if the memory buffer is a private mapping (i.e., any mapping cre‐
       ated with the mmap(2) MAP_PRIVATE flag; this includes memory  allocated
       on  the heap and statically allocated buffers).	Any such I/Os, whether
       submitted via an asynchronous I/O interface or from another  thread  in
       the  process, should be completed before fork(2) is called.  Failure to
       do so can result in data corruption and undefined  behavior  in	parent
       and  child  processes.  This restriction does not apply when the memory
       buffer for the O_DIRECT I/Os was created using shmat(2) or mmap(2) with
       the  MAP_SHARED	flag.  Nor does this restriction apply when the memory
       buffer has been advised as MADV_DONTFORK with madvise(2), ensuring that
       it will not be available to the child after fork(2).

       The  O_DIRECT  flag  was introduced in SGI IRIX, where it has alignment
       restrictions similar to those of Linux 2.4.  IRIX has also  a  fcntl(2)
       call  to	 query	appropriate alignments, and sizes.  FreeBSD 4.x intro‐
       duced a flag of the same name, but without alignment restrictions.

       O_DIRECT support was added under Linux in kernel version 2.4.10.	 Older
       Linux kernels simply ignore this flag.  Some filesystems may not imple‐
       ment the flag and open() will fail with EINVAL if it is used.

       Applications should avoid mixing O_DIRECT and normal I/O	 to  the  same
       file,  and  especially  to  overlapping	byte regions in the same file.
       Even when the filesystem correctly handles the coherency issues in this
       situation,  overall  I/O	 throughput  is likely to be slower than using
       either mode alone.  Likewise, applications should avoid mixing  mmap(2)
       of files with direct I/O to the same files.

       The  behaviour of O_DIRECT with NFS will differ from local filesystems.
       Older kernels, or kernels configured in certain ways, may  not  support
       this  combination.   The NFS protocol does not support passing the flag
       to the server, so O_DIRECT I/O will bypass the page cache only  on  the
       client; the server may still cache the I/O.  The client asks the server
       to make the I/O synchronous to preserve the  synchronous	 semantics  of
       O_DIRECT.   Some servers will perform poorly under these circumstances,
       especially if the I/O size is small.  Some servers may also be  config‐
       ured  to	 lie  to  clients about the I/O having reached stable storage;
       this will avoid the performance penalty at some risk to data  integrity
       in  the	event of server power failure.	The Linux NFS client places no
       alignment restrictions on O_DIRECT I/O.

       In summary, O_DIRECT is a potentially powerful tool that should be used
       with  caution.	It  is	recommended  that  applications	 treat	use of
       O_DIRECT as a performance option which is disabled by default.

	      "The thing that has always disturbed me about O_DIRECT  is  that
	      the whole interface is just stupid, and was probably designed by
	      a	 deranged  monkey  on  some  serious   mind-controlling	  sub‐

       Currently, it is not possible to enable signal-driven I/O by specifying
       O_ASYNC when calling open(); use fcntl(2) to enable this flag.

       chmod(2), chown(2),  close(2),  dup(2),	fcntl(2),  link(2),  lseek(2),
       mknod(2),  mmap(2),  mount(2),  openat(2), read(2), socket(2), stat(2),
       umask(2), unlink(2), write(2), fopen(3),	 fifo(7),  path_resolution(7),

       This  page  is  part of release 3.54 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
       description of the project, and information about reporting  bugs,  can
       be found at

Linux				  2013-08-09			       OPEN(2)

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