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BSD 2.11 - man page for vfork (bsd section 2)

VFORK(2)					 System Calls Manual					     VFORK(2)

NAME
vfork - spawn new process in a virtual memory efficient way
SYNOPSIS
pid = vfork() int pid;
DESCRIPTION
Vfork can be used to create new processes without fully copying the address space of the old process, which is horrendously inefficient in a paged environment. It is useful when the purpose of fork(2) would have been to create a new system context for an execve. Vfork differs from fork in that the child borrows the parent's memory and thread of control until a call to execve(2) or an exit (either by a call to exit(2) or abnormally.) The parent process is suspended while the child is using its resources. Vfork returns 0 in the child's context and (later) the pid of the child in the parent's context. Vfork can normally be used just like fork. It does not work, however, to return while running in the childs context from the procedure that called vfork since the eventual return from vfork would then return to a no longer existent stack frame. Be careful, also, to call _exit rather than exit if you can't execve, since exit will flush and close standard I/O channels, and thereby mess up the parent processes standard I/O data struc- tures. (Even with fork it is wrong to call exit since buffered data would then be flushed twice.)
SEE ALSO
fork(2), execve(2), sigvec(2), wait(2),
DIAGNOSTICS
Same as for fork.
BUGS
This system call will be eliminated when proper system sharing mechanisms are implemented. Users should not depend on the memory sharing semantics of vfork as it will, in that case, be made synonymous to fork. To avoid a possible deadlock situation, processes that are children in the middle of a vfork are never sent SIGTTOU or SIGTTIN signals; rather, output or ioctls are allowed and input attempts result in an end-of-file indication. 4th Berkeley Distribution June 30, 1985 VFORK(2)


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