EXECL(3) Library Functions Manual EXECL(3)
execl, execv, execle, execlp, execvp, exec, execve, exect, environ - execute a file
execl(name, arg0, arg1, ..., argn, 0)
char *name, *arg0, *arg1, ..., *argn;
char *name, *argv;
execle(name, arg0, arg1, ..., argn, 0, envp)
char *name, *arg0, *arg1, ..., *argn, *envp;
exect(name, argv, envp)
char *name, *argv, *envp;
extern char **environ;
These routines provide various interfaces to the execve system call. Refer to execve(2) for a description of their properties; only brief
descriptions are provided here.
Exec in all its forms overlays the calling process with the named file, then transfers to the entry point of the core image of the file.
There can be no return from a successful exec; the calling core image is lost.
The name argument is a pointer to the name of the file to be executed. The pointers arg, arg ... address null-terminated strings.
Conventionally arg is the name of the file.
Two interfaces are available. execl is useful when a known file with known arguments is being called; the arguments to execl are the char-
acter strings constituting the file and the arguments; the first argument is conventionally the same as the file name (or its last compo-
nent). A 0 argument must end the argument list.
The execv version is useful when the number of arguments is unknown in advance; the arguments to execv are the name of the file to be exe-
cuted and a vector of strings containing the arguments. The last argument string must be followed by a 0 pointer.
The exect version is used when the executed file is to be manipulated with ptrace(2). The program is forced to single step a single
instruction giving the parent an opportunity to manipulate its state. On the VAX-11 this is done by setting the trace bit in the process
status longword. Exect is not available on the PDP-11.
When a C program is executed, it is called as follows:
main(argc, argv, envp)
char **argv, **envp;
where argc is the argument count and argv is an array of character pointers to the arguments themselves. As indicated, argc is convention-
ally at least one and the first member of the array points to a string containing the name of the file.
Argv is directly usable in another execv because argv[argc] is 0.
Envp is a pointer to an array of strings that constitute the environment of the process. Each string consists of a name, an "=", and a
null-terminated value. The array of pointers is terminated by a null pointer. The shell sh(1) passes an environment entry for each global
shell variable defined when the program is called. See environ(7) for some conventionally used names. The C run-time start-off routine
places a copy of envp in the global cell environ, which is used by execv and execl to pass the environment to any subprograms executed by
the current program.
Execlp and execvp are called with the same arguments as execl and execv, but duplicate the shell's actions in searching for an executable
file in a list of directories. The directory list is obtained from the environment.
/bin/sh shell, invoked if command file found by execlp or execvp
execve(2), fork(2), environ(7), csh(1)
If the file cannot be found, if it is not executable, if it does not start with a valid magic number (see a.out(5)), if maximum memory is
exceeded, or if the arguments require too much space, a return constitutes the diagnostic; the return value is -1. Even for the super-
user, at least one of the execute-permission bits must be set for a file to be executed.
If execvp is called to execute a file that turns out to be a shell command file, and if it is impossible to execute the shell, the values
of argv and argv[-1] will be modified before return.
4.2 Berkeley Distribution August 4, 1987 EXECL(3)