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The GNU C Library

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13.14.4 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);
}


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