Man Linux: Main Page and Category List


       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.

       Starting with Linux 2.6.27, the following values may be bitwise ORed in
       flags to change the behaviour of signalfd():

       SFD_NONBLOCK  Set the O_NONBLOCK file status flag on the new open  file
                     description.   Using  this  flag  saves  extra  calls  to
                     fcntl(2) to achieve the same result.

       SFD_CLOEXEC   Set the close-on-exec (FD_CLOEXEC) flag on the  new  file
                     descriptor.  See the description of the O_CLOEXEC flag in
                     open(2) for reasons why this may be useful.

       In Linux up to version 2.6.26, the flags argument is unused,  and  must
       be specified as zero.

       signalfd()  returns  a  file  descriptor  that  supports  the following

              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

              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 nonblocking.

       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

              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;   /* Signal number */
               int32_t  ssi_errno;   /* Error number (unused) */
               int32_t  ssi_code;    /* Signal code */
               uint32_t ssi_pid;     /* PID of sender */
               uint32_t ssi_uid;     /* Real UID of sender */
               int32_t  ssi_fd;      /* File descriptor (SIGIO) */
               uint32_t ssi_tid;     /* Kernel timer ID (POSIX timers)
               uint32_t ssi_band;    /* Band event (SIGIO) */
               uint32_t ssi_overrun; /* POSIX timer overrun count */
               uint32_t ssi_trapno;  /* Trap number that caused signal */
               int32_t  ssi_status;  /* Exit status or signal (SIGCHLD) */
               int32_t  ssi_int;     /* Integer sent by sigqueue(2) */
               uint64_t ssi_ptr;     /* Pointer sent by sigqueue(2) */
               uint64_t ssi_utime;   /* User CPU time consumed (SIGCHLD) */
               uint64_t ssi_stime;   /* System CPU time consumed (SIGCHLD) */
               uint64_t ssi_addr;    /* Address that generated signal
                                        (for hardware-generated signals) */
               uint8_t  pad[X];      /* Pad size to 128 bytes (allow for
                                         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.  A read(2) from the  file  descriptor  in  the  child  will
       return information about signals queued to the child.

   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).)

   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.


       EBADF  The fd file descriptor is not a valid file descriptor.

       EINVAL fd is not a valid signalfd file descriptor.

       EINVAL flags  is  invalid;  or,  in  Linux  2.6.26 or earlier, flags is

       EMFILE The per-process limit of open file descriptors has been reached.

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

       ENODEV Could not mount (internal) anonymous inode device.

       ENOMEM There was insufficient memory to  create  a  new  signalfd  file


       signalfd()  is available on Linux since kernel 2.6.22.  Working support
       is provided in glibc since version 2.8.  The  signalfd4()  system  call
       (see NOTES) is available on Linux since kernel 2.6.27.


       signalfd() and signalfd4() are 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.

       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.

   Underlying Linux system calls
       There are two underlying Linux system calls: signalfd()  and  the  more
       recent  signalfd4().  The former system call does not implement a flags
       argument.  The latter system call implements the flags values described
       above.   Starting  with glibc 2.9, the signalfd() wrapper function will
       use signalfd4() where it is available.


       In kernels before 2.6.25, the ssi_ptr and ssi_int fields are not filled
       in with the data accompanying a signal sent by sigqueue(2).


       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

           $ ./signalfd_demo
           ^C                   # Control-C generates SIGINT
           Got SIGINT
           Got SIGINT
           ^\                    # Control-\ generates SIGQUIT
           Got SIGQUIT

   Program source

       #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.ssi_signo == SIGINT) {
                   printf("Got SIGINT\n");
               } else if (fdsi.ssi_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), sigwait(3), epoll(7),


       This page is part of release 3.24 of the Linux  man-pages  project.   A
       description  of  the project, and information about reporting bugs, can
       be found at