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
Two interfaces are available. execl is useful when a known file with known arguments is
being called; the arguments to execl are the character strings constituting the file and
the arguments; the first argument is conventionally the same as the file name (or its last
component). A 0 argument must end the argument list.
The execv version is useful when the number of arguments is unknown in advance; the argu-
ments to execv are the name of the file to be executed 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 argu-
ments themselves. As indicated, argc is conventionally 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 point-
ers 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 conven-
tionally 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 direc-
tory 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 exe-
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
4.2 Berkeley Distribution August 4, 1987 EXECL(3)