Langue: en

Version: 2008-02-11 (mandriva - 01/05/08)

Section: 2 (Appels système)


signalfd - create a file descriptor for accepting signals


#include <sys/signalfd.h>

int signalfd(int fd, const sigset_t *mask, int flags);


signalfd() creates a file descriptor that can be used to accept signals targeted at the caller. This provides an alternative to the use of a signal handler or sigwaitinfo(2), and has the advantage that the file descriptor may be monitored by select(2), poll(2), and epoll(7). The mask argument specifies the set of signals that the caller wishes to accept via the file descriptor. This argument is a signal set whose contents can be initialized using the macros described in sigsetops(3). Normally, the set of signals to be received via the file descriptor should be blocked using sigprocmask(2), to prevent the signals being handled according to their default dispositions. It is not possible to receive SIGKILL or SIGSTOP signals via a signalfd file descriptor; these signals are silently ignored if specified in mask.

If the fd argument is -1, then the call creates a new file descriptor and associates the signal set specified in mask with that descriptor. If fd is not -1, then it must specify a valid existing signalfd file descriptor, and mask is used to replace the signal set associated with that descriptor.

The flags argument is currently unused, and must be specified as zero. In the future, it may be used to request additional functionality.

signalfd() returns a file descriptor that supports the following operations:

If one or more of the signals specified in mask is pending for the process, then the buffer supplied to read(2) is used to return one or more signalfd_siginfo structures (see below) that describe the signals. The read(2) returns information for as many signals as are pending and will fit in the supplied buffer. The buffer must be at least sizeof(struct signalfd_siginfo) bytes. The return value of the read(2) is the total number of bytes read.
As a consequence of the read(2), the signals are consumed, so that they are no longer pending for the process (i.e., will not be caught by signal handlers, and cannot be accepted using sigwaitinfo(2)).
If none of the signals in mask is pending for the process, then the read(2) either blocks until one of the signals in mask is generated for the process, or fails with the error EAGAIN if the file descriptor has been made non-blocking (via the use of the fcntl(2) F_SETFL operation to set the O_NONBLOCK flag).
poll(2), select(2) (and similar)
The file descriptor is readable (the select(2) readfds argument; the poll(2) POLLIN flag) if one or more of the signals in mask is pending for the process.
The signalfd file descriptor also supports the other file-descriptor multiplexing APIs: pselect(2), ppoll(2), and epoll(7).
When the file descriptor is no longer required it should be closed. When all file descriptors associated with the same signalfd object have been closed, the resources for object are freed by the kernel.

The signalfd_siginfo structure

The format of the signalfd_siginfo structure(s) returned by read(2)s from a signalfd file descriptor is as follows:
 struct signalfd_siginfo {/
     uint32_t  ssi_signo;
     int32_t   ssi_errno;
     int32_t   ssi_code;
     uint32_t  ssi_pid;
     uint32_t  ssi_uid;
     int32_t   ssi_fd;
     uint32_t  ssi_tid;
     uint32_t  ssi_band;
     uint32_t  ssi_overrun;
     uint32_t  ssi_trapno;
     int32_t   ssi_status;
     int32_t   ssi_int;
     uintptr_t ssi_ptr;
     uint64_t  ssi_utime;
     uint64_t  ssi_stime;
     uint64_t  ssi_addr;
     uint8_t   pad[X];  /* Pad size to 128 bytes (allow space
                           additional fields in the future) */
Each of the fields in this structure is analogous to the similarly named field in the siginfo_t structure. The siginfo_t structure is described in sigaction(2). Not all fields in the returned signalfd_siginfo structure will be valid for a specific signal; the set of valid fields can be determined from the value returned in the ssi_code field. This field is the analog of the siginfo_t si_code field; see sigaction(2) for details.

fork(2) semantics

After a fork(2), the child inherits a copy of the signalfd file descriptor. The file descriptor refers to the same underlying file object as the corresponding descriptor in the parent, and read(2)s in the child will return information about signals generated for the parent (the process that created the object using signalfd().

execve(2) semantics

Just like any other file descriptor, a signalfd file descriptor remains open across an execve(2), unless it has been marked for close-on-exec (see fcntl(2)). Any signals that were available for reading before the execve(2) remain available to the newly loaded program. (This is analogous to traditional signal semantics, where a blocked signal that is pending remains pending across an execve(2).) (This is analogous to traditional signal semantics, where a blocked signal that is pending remains pending across an execve(2).)

Thread semantics

The semantics of signalfd file descriptors in a multithreaded program mirror the standard semantics for signals. In other words, when a thread reads from a signalfd file descriptor, it will read the signals that are directed to the thread itself and the signals that are directed to the process (i.e., the entire thread group). (A thread will not be able to read signals that are directed to other threads in the process.)


On success, signalfd() returns a signalfd file descriptor; this is either a new file descriptor (if fd was -1), or fd if fd was a valid signalfd file descriptor. On error, -1 is returned and errno is set to indicate the error.


The fd file descriptor is not a valid file descriptor.
fd is not a valid signalfd file descriptor; or, flags is nonzero.
The per-process limit of open file descriptors has been reached.
The system-wide limit on the total number of open files has been reached.
Could not mount (internal) anonymous inode device.
There was insufficient memory to create a new signalfd file descriptor.


signalfd() is available on Linux since kernel 2.6.22. Working support is provided in glibc since version 2.8.


signalfd() is Linux-specific.


The underlying Linux system call requires an additional argument, size_t sizemask, which specifies the size of the mask argument. The glibc signalfd() wrapper function does not include this argument, since it provides the required value for the underlying system call.

The flags argument is a glibc addition to the underlying system call.

A process can create multiple signalfd file descriptors. This makes it possible to accept different signals on different file descriptors. (This may be useful if monitoring the file descriptors using select(2), poll(2), or epoll(7): the arrival of different signals will make different descriptors ready.) If a signal appears in the mask of more than one of the file descriptors, then occurrences of that signal can be read (once) from any one of the descriptors.


The program below accepts the signals SIGINT and SIGQUIT via a signalfd file descriptor. The program terminates after accepting a SIGQUIT signal. The following shell session demonstrates the use of the program:
 $ ./signalfd_demo
 ^C                    # Control-C generates SIGINT
 ^\                    # Control-\ generates SIGQUIT
 #include <sys/signalfd.h>
 #include <signal.h>
 #include <unistd.h>
 #include <stdlib.h>
 #include <stdio.h>
 #define handle_error(msg) \
     do { perror(msg); exit(EXIT_FAILURE); } while (0)
 main(int argc, char *argv[])
     sigset_t mask;
     int sfd;
     struct signalfd_siginfo fdsi;
     ssize_t s;
     sigaddset(&mask, SIGINT);
     sigaddset(&mask, SIGQUIT);
     /* Block signals so that they aren't handled
        according to their default dispositions */
     if (sigprocmask(SIG_BLOCK, &mask, NULL) == -1)
     sfd = signalfd(-1, &mask, 0);
     if (sfd == -1)
     for (;;) {
         s = read(sfd, &fdsi, sizeof(struct signalfd_siginfo));
         if (s != sizeof(struct signalfd_siginfo))
         if (fdsi.signo == SIGINT) {
             printf("Got SIGINT\n");
         } else if (fdsi.signo == SIGQUIT) {
             printf("Got SIGQUIT\n");
         } else {
             printf("Read unexpected signal\n");


eventfd(2), poll(2), read(2), select(2), sigaction(2), sigprocmask(2), sigwaitinfo(2), timerfd_create(2), sigsetops(3), epoll(7), signal(7)


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