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

       open, openat, creat - open and possibly create a file

       #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);

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

   Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):

           Since glibc 2.10:
               _XOPEN_SOURCE >= 700 || _POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200809L
           Before glibc 2.10:

       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.  The open file description records the
       file  offset  and the file status flags (see below).  A file descriptor
       is a reference to an open file description;  this  reference  is  unaf-
       fected  if  pathname  is subsequently removed or modified to refer to a
       different file.  For further details on  open  file  descriptions,  see

       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,
       and 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; see fcntl(2) for details.

       The  full  list of file creation flags and file status flags is as fol-

              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
              details.  See also BUGS, below.

       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.

              Note  that  the  use  of  this  flag is essential in some multi-
              threaded programs, because using  a  separate  fcntl(2)  F_SETFD
              operation  to  set the FD_CLOEXEC flag does not suffice to avoid
              race conditions where one thread opens  a  file  descriptor  and
              attempts  to  set  its  close-on-exec flag using fcntl(2) at the
              same time as another  thread  does  a  fork(2)  plus  execve(2).
              Depending  on  the  order of execution, the race may lead to the
              file descriptor returned by open() being unintentionally  leaked
              to the program executed by the child process created by fork(2).
              (This kind of race is in principle possible for any system  call
              that  creates  a file descriptor whose close-on-exec flag should
              be set, and various other Linux system calls provide an  equiva-
              lent of the O_CLOEXEC flag to deal with this problem.)

              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 or  O_TMPFILE
              is specified in flags; if neither O_CREAT nor O_TMPFILE is spec-
              ified, then mode is ignored.  The effective permissions are mod-
              ified  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 was added in kernel version 2.1.126,  to  avoid  denial-of-
              service  problems  if  opendir(3)  is  called  on a FIFO or tape

              Write operations on the file  will  complete  according  to  the
              requirements of synchronized I/O data integrity completion.

              By  the  time write(2) (and similar) return, the output data has
              been transferred to the underlying hardware, along with any file
              metadata  that would be required to retrieve that data (i.e., as
              though each write(2) was followed by a  call  to  fdatasync(2)).
              See NOTES below.

       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_PATH 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.  This includes
                 linkat(2) with AT_EMPTY_PATH (or  via  procfs  using  AT_SYM-
                 LINK_FOLLOW) even if the file is not a directory.

              *  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_CLOEXEC, O_DIRECTORY, and O_NOFOLLOW are ignored.

              If  pathname  is a symbolic link and 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 fchownat(2),  fstatat(2),  linkat(2),
              and readlinkat(2) with an empty pathname to have the calls oper-
              ate on the symbolic link.

       O_SYNC Write operations on the file  will  complete  according  to  the
              requirements  of  synchronized I/O file integrity completion (by
              contrast with the synchronized  I/O  data  integrity  completion
              provided by O_DSYNC.)

              By  the  time write(2) (and similar) return, the output data and
              associated file metadata have been transferred to the underlying
              hardware  (i.e.,  as though each write(2) was followed by a call
              to fsync(2)).  See NOTES below.

       O_TMPFILE (since Linux 3.11)
              Create an unnamed temporary file.  The pathname argument  speci-
              fies  a  directory;  an  unnamed  inode  will be created in that
              directory's filesystem.  Anything written to the resulting  file
              will be lost when the last file descriptor is closed, unless the
              file is given a name.

              O_TMPFILE must be specified with one of O_RDWR or O_WRONLY  and,
              optionally,  O_EXCL.  If O_EXCL is not specified, then linkat(2)
              can be used to link the temporary file into the filesystem, mak-
              ing it permanent, using code like the following:

                  char path[PATH_MAX];
                  fd = open("/path/to/dir", O_TMPFILE | O_RDWR,
                                          S_IRUSR | S_IWUSR);

                  /* File I/O on 'fd'... */

                  snprintf(path, PATH_MAX,  "/proc/self/fd/%d", fd);
                  linkat(AT_FDCWD, path, AT_FDCWD, "/path/for/file",

              In  this case, the open() mode argument determines the file per-
              mission mode, as with O_CREAT.

              Specifying O_EXCL in conjunction with O_TMPFILE prevents a  tem-
              porary  file  from being linked into the filesystem in the above
              manner.  (Note that the meaning of O_EXCL in this case  is  dif-
              ferent from the meaning of O_EXCL otherwise.)

              There are two main use cases for O_TMPFILE:

              *  Improved tmpfile(3) functionality: race-free creation of tem-
                 porary files that (1) are automatically deleted when  closed;
                 (2)  can  never be reached via any pathname; (3) are not sub-
                 ject to symlink attacks; and (4) do not require the caller to
                 devise unique names.

              *  Creating  a  file  that is initially invisible, which is then
                 populated with data and adjusted to have appropriate filesys-
                 tem   attributes  (chown(2),  chmod(2),  fsetxattr(2),  etc.)
                 before being atomically linked into the filesystem in a fully
                 formed state (using linkat(2) as described above).

              O_TMPFILE  requires support by the underlying filesystem; only a
              subset of Linux filesystems provide that support.  In  the  ini-
              tial  implementation,  support  was  provided in the ext2, ext3,
              ext4, UDF, Minix, and shmem filesystems.  XFS support was  added
              in Linux 3.15.

              If  the file already exists and is a regular file and the access
              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.

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

       The openat() system call operates in exactly the same  way  as  open(),
       except for the differences described here.

       If  the  pathname given in pathname is relative, then it is interpreted
       relative to the directory referred to  by  the  file  descriptor  dirfd
       (rather  than  relative to the current working directory of the calling
       process, as is done by open() for a relative pathname).

       If pathname is relative and dirfd is the special value  AT_FDCWD,  then
       pathname  is  interpreted  relative to the current working directory of
       the calling process (like open()).

       If pathname is absolute, then dirfd is ignored.

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

       open(), openat(), and creat() can fail with the following errors:

       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.

       EINVAL Invalid value in flags.

       EINVAL O_TMPFILE was specified  in  flags,  but  neither  O_WRONLY  nor
              O_RDWR was specified.

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

       EISDIR pathname refers to an existing directory, O_TMPFILE and  one  of
              O_WRONLY or O_RDWR were specified in flags, but this kernel ver-
              sion does not provide the O_TMPFILE functionality.

       ELOOP  Too many symbolic links were encountered in resolving pathname.

       ELOOP  pathname was a symbolic link, and flags specified O_NOFOLLOW but
              not O_PATH.

       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.

       ENOENT pathname refers to a nonexistent directory, O_TMPFILE and one of
              O_WRONLY or O_RDWR were specified in flags, but this kernel ver-
              sion does not provide the O_TMPFILE functionality.

       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 FIFO open for reading.  Or, the file is a device
              special file and no corresponding device exists.

              The filesystem containing pathname does not support O_TMPFILE.

              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  (1<<31)-1  bytes;  see  also
              O_LARGEFILE above.  This is the error specified by POSIX.1-2001;
              in kernels before 2.6.24, Linux gave the error  EFBIG  for  this

       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)).

       The following additional errors can occur for openat():

       EBADF  dirfd is not a valid file descriptor.

              pathname is a relative pathname and dirfd is a  file  descriptor
              referring to a file other than a directory.

       openat() was added to Linux in kernel 2.6.16; library support was added
       to glibc in version 2.4.

       open(), creat() SVr4, 4.3BSD, POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008.

       openat(): POSIX.1-2008.

       The O_DIRECT, O_NOATIME, O_PATH, and  O_TMPFILE  flags  are  Linux-spe-
       cific.  One must define _GNU_SOURCE to obtain their definitions.

       The  O_CLOEXEC,  O_DIRECTORY, and O_NOFOLLOW flags are not specified in
       POSIX.1-2001, but are specified in POSIX.1-2008.  Since glibc 2.12, one
       can  obtain their definitions by defining either _POSIX_C_SOURCE with a
       value greater than or equal to 200809L or _XOPEN_SOURCE  with  a  value
       greater  than  or equal to 700.  In glibc 2.11 and earlier, one obtains
       the definitions by defining _GNU_SOURCE.

       As  noted  in  feature_test_macros(7),  feature  test  macros  such  as
       _POSIX_C_SOURCE,  _XOPEN_SOURCE, and _GNU_SOURCE must be defined before
       including any header files.

       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).

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

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

       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.

   Open file descriptions
       The term open file description is the one used by POSIX to refer to the
       entries  in  the  system-wide  table of open files.  In other contexts,
       this object is variously also called an "open  file  object",  a  "file
       handle", an "open file table entry", or--in kernel-developer parlance--
       a struct file.

       When a file descriptor is duplicated (using  dup(2)  or  similar),  the
       duplicate refers to the same open file description as the original file
       descriptor, and the two file descriptors consequently  share  the  file
       offset and file status flags.  Such sharing can also occur between pro-
       cesses: a child process created via fork(2) inherits duplicates of  its
       parent's  file descriptors, and those duplicates refer to the same open
       file descriptions.

       Each open(2) of a file creates a new open file description; thus, there
       may be multiple open file descriptions corresponding to a file inode.

   Synchronized I/O
       The POSIX.1-2008 "synchronized I/O" option specifies different variants
       of synchronized I/O, and specifies the open()  flags  O_SYNC,  O_DSYNC,
       and  O_RSYNC  for  controlling  the behavior.  Regardless of whether an
       implementation supports this option, it must at least support  the  use
       of O_SYNC for regular files.

       Linux implements O_SYNC and O_DSYNC, but not O_RSYNC.  (Somewhat incor-
       rectly, glibc defines O_RSYNC to have the same value as O_SYNC.)

       O_SYNC provides synchronized I/O  file  integrity  completion,  meaning
       write  operations  will  flush  data and all associated metadata to the
       underlying hardware.  O_DSYNC provides synchronized I/O data  integrity
       completion,  meaning write operations will flush data to the underlying
       hardware, but will only flush metadata updates  that  are  required  to
       allow  a  subsequent  read  operation  to  complete successfully.  Data
       integrity completion can reduce the number of disk operations that  are
       required  for  applications  that  don't  need  the  guarantees of file
       integrity completion.

       To understand the difference between the two types of completion,  con-
       sider two pieces of file metadata: the file last modification timestamp
       (st_mtime) and the file length.  All write operations will  update  the
       last  file modification timestamp, but only writes that add data to the
       end of the file will change the file  length.   The  last  modification
       timestamp  is  not needed to ensure that a read completes successfully,
       but the file length is.  Thus, O_DSYNC would only  guarantee  to  flush
       updates  to  the file length metadata (whereas O_SYNC would also always
       flush the last modification timestamp metadata).

       Before Linux 2.6.33, Linux implemented only the O_SYNC flag for open().
       However,  when  that flag was specified, most filesystems actually pro-
       vided the equivalent of  synchronized  I/O  data  integrity  completion
       (i.e., O_SYNC was actually implemented as the equivalent of O_DSYNC).

       Since  Linux  2.6.33,  proper  O_SYNC support is provided.  However, to
       ensure backward binary compatibility, O_DSYNC was defined with the same
       value  as  the historical O_SYNC, and O_SYNC was defined as a new (two-
       bit) flag value that includes the O_DSYNC  flag  value.   This  ensures
       that  applications  compiled  against  new headers get at least O_DSYNC
       semantics on pre-2.6.33 kernels.

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

       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

   File access mode
       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)  opera-

   Rationale for openat() and other directory file descriptor APIs
       openat()  and  the other system calls and library functions that take a
       directory  file   descriptor   argument   (i.e.,   faccessat(2),   fan-
       otify_mark(2),   fchmodat(2),  fchownat(2),  fstatat(2),  futimesat(2),
       linkat(2), mkdirat(2), mknodat(2), name_to_handle_at(2), readlinkat(2),
       renameat(2),  symlinkat(2),  unlinkat(2), utimensat(2) mkfifoat(3), and
       scandirat(3)) are supported for two reasons.  Here, the explanation  is
       in  terms  of the openat() call, but the rationale is analogous for the
       other interfaces.

       First, openat() allows an application to  avoid  race  conditions  that
       could  occur  when using open() to open files in directories other than
       the current working directory.  These race conditions result  from  the
       fact  that some component of the directory prefix given to open() could
       be changed in parallel with the call to  open().   Such  races  can  be
       avoided by opening a file descriptor for the target directory, and then
       specifying that file descriptor as the dirfd argument of openat().

       Second, openat() allows the implementation  of  a  per-thread  "current
       working  directory",  via file descriptor(s) maintained by the applica-
       tion.  (This functionality can also be obtained by tricks based on  the
       use of /proc/self/fd/dirfd, but less efficiently.)

       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.  Since Linux 2.6.0, alignment to the logical block size
       of  the underlying storage (typically 512 bytes) suffices.  The logical
       block size can be determined using the ioctl(2) BLKSSZGET operation  or
       from the shell using the command:

           blockdev --getss

       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 behavior 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.

       One  must  check for two different error codes, EISDIR and ENOENT, when
       trying to determine whether the kernel supports  O_TMPFILE  functional-

       chmod(2),  chown(2),  close(2),  dup(2),  fcntl(2),  link(2), lseek(2),
       mknod(2), mmap(2), mount(2), open_by_handle_at(2), read(2),  socket(2),
       stat(2), umask(2), unlink(2), write(2), fopen(3), fifo(7), path_resolu-
       tion(7), symlink(7)

       This page is part of release 3.74 of the Linux  man-pages  project.   A
       description  of  the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
       latest    version    of    this    page,    can     be     found     at

Linux                             2014-10-02                           OPEN(2)

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Created with the man page lookup class by Andrew Collington.
Based on a C man page viewer by Vadim Pavlov
Unicode soft-hyphen fix (as used by RedHat) by Dan Edwards
Some optimisations by Eli Argon
Caching idea and code contribution by James Richardson

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