SELECT(2) BSD System Calls Manual SELECT(2)
select -- synchronous I/O multiplexing
Standard C Library (libc, -lc)
select(int nfds, fd_set *readfds, fd_set *writefds, fd_set *exceptfds, struct timeval *timeout);
The select() system call examines the I/O descriptor sets whose addresses are passed in readfds, writefds, and exceptfds to see if some of
their descriptors are ready for reading, are ready for writing, or have an exceptional condition pending, respectively. The only exceptional
condition detectable is out-of-band data received on a socket. The first nfds descriptors are checked in each set; i.e., the descriptors
from 0 through nfds-1 in the descriptor sets are examined. On return, select() replaces the given descriptor sets with subsets consisting of
those descriptors that are ready for the requested operation. The select() system call returns the total number of ready descriptors in all
The descriptor sets are stored as bit fields in arrays of integers. The following macros are provided for manipulating such descriptor sets:
FD_ZERO(&fdset) initializes a descriptor set fdset to the null set. FD_SET(fd, &fdset) includes a particular descriptor fd in fdset.
FD_CLR(fd, &fdset) removes fd from fdset. FD_ISSET(fd, &fdset) is non-zero if fd is a member of fdset, zero otherwise. The behavior of
these macros is undefined if a descriptor value is less than zero or greater than or equal to FD_SETSIZE, which is normally at least equal to
the maximum number of descriptors supported by the system.
If timeout is not a null pointer, it specifies the maximum interval to wait for the selection to complete. System activity can lengthen the
interval by an indeterminate amount.
If timeout is a null pointer, the select blocks indefinitely.
To effect a poll, the timeout argument should not be a null pointer, but it should point to a zero-valued timeval structure.
Any of readfds, writefds, and exceptfds may be given as null pointers if no descriptors are of interest.
The select() system call returns the number of ready descriptors that are contained in the descriptor sets, or -1 if an error occurred. If
the time limit expires, select() returns 0. If select() returns with an error, including one due to an interrupted system call, the descrip-
tor sets will be unmodified.
An error return from select() indicates:
[EBADF] One of the descriptor sets specified an invalid descriptor.
[EFAULT] One of the arguments readfds, writefds, exceptfds, or timeout points to an invalid address.
[EINTR] A signal was delivered before the time limit expired and before any of the selected events occurred.
[EINVAL] The specified time limit is invalid. One of its components is negative or too large.
[EINVAL] The nfds argument was invalid.
accept(2), connect(2), getdtablesize(2), gettimeofday(2), kqueue(2), poll(2), read(2), recv(2), send(2), write(2), clocks(7)
The default size of FD_SETSIZE is currently 1024. In order to accommodate programs which might potentially use a larger number of open files
with select(), it is possible to increase this size by having the program define FD_SETSIZE before the inclusion of any header which includes
If nfds is greater than the number of open files, select() is not guaranteed to examine the unused file descriptors. For historical reasons,
select() will always examine the first 256 descriptors.
The select() system call and FD_CLR(), FD_ISSET(), FD_SET(), and FD_ZERO() macros conform with IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 (``POSIX.1'').
The select() system call appeared in 4.2BSD.
Version 2 of the Single UNIX Specification (``SUSv2'') allows systems to modify the original timeout in place. Thus, it is unwise to assume
that the timeout value will be unmodified by the select() system call. FreeBSD does not modify the return value, which can cause problems
for applications ported from other systems.
November 17, 2002 BSD