FLOCK(2) Linux Programmer's Manual FLOCK(2)
flock - apply or remove an advisory lock on an open file
int flock(int fd, int operation);
Apply or remove an advisory lock on the open file specified by fd. The argument operation
is one of the following:
LOCK_SH Place a shared lock. More than one process may hold a shared lock for a
given file at a given time.
LOCK_EX Place an exclusive lock. Only one process may hold an exclusive lock for a
given file at a given time.
LOCK_UN Remove an existing lock held by this process.
A call to flock() may block if an incompatible lock is held by another process. To make a
nonblocking request, include LOCK_NB (by ORing) with any of the above operations.
A single file may not simultaneously have both shared and exclusive locks.
Locks created by flock() are associated with an open file table entry. This means that
duplicate file descriptors (created by, for example, fork(2) or dup(2)) refer to the same
lock, and this lock may be modified or released using any of these descriptors. Further-
more, the lock is released either by an explicit LOCK_UN operation on any of these dupli-
cate descriptors, or when all such descriptors have been closed.
If a process uses open(2) (or similar) to obtain more than one descriptor for the same
file, these descriptors are treated independently by flock(). An attempt to lock the file
using one of these file descriptors may be denied by a lock that the calling process has
already placed via another descriptor.
A process may hold only one type of lock (shared or exclusive) on a file. Subsequent
flock() calls on an already locked file will convert an existing lock to the new lock
Locks created by flock() are preserved across an execve(2).
A shared or exclusive lock can be placed on a file regardless of the mode in which the
file was opened.
On success, zero is returned. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.
EBADF fd is not an open file descriptor.
EINTR While waiting to acquire a lock, the call was interrupted by delivery of a signal
caught by a handler; see signal(7).
EINVAL operation is invalid.
ENOLCK The kernel ran out of memory for allocating lock records.
The file is locked and the LOCK_NB flag was selected.
4.4BSD (the flock() call first appeared in 4.2BSD). A version of flock(), possibly imple-
mented in terms of fcntl(2), appears on most UNIX systems.
flock() does not lock files over NFS. Use fcntl(2) instead: that does work over NFS,
given a sufficiently recent version of Linux and a server which supports locking.
Since kernel 2.0, flock() is implemented as a system call in its own right rather than
being emulated in the GNU C library as a call to fcntl(2). This yields true BSD seman-
tics: there is no interaction between the types of lock placed by flock() and fcntl(2),
and flock() does not detect deadlock.
flock() places advisory locks only; given suitable permissions on a file, a process is
free to ignore the use of flock() and perform I/O on the file.
flock() and fcntl(2) locks have different semantics with respect to forked processes and
dup(2). On systems that implement flock() using fcntl(2), the semantics of flock() will
be different from those described in this manual page.
Converting a lock (shared to exclusive, or vice versa) is not guaranteed to be atomic: the
existing lock is first removed, and then a new lock is established. Between these two
steps, a pending lock request by another process may be granted, with the result that the
conversion either blocks, or fails if LOCK_NB was specified. (This is the original BSD
behavior, and occurs on many other implementations.)
flock(1), close(2), dup(2), execve(2), fcntl(2), fork(2), open(2), lockf(3)
Documentation/filesystem/locks.txt in the Linux kernel source tree (Documenta-
tion/locks.txt in older kernels)
This page is part of release 3.53 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the
project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at
Linux 2013-02-11 FLOCK(2)