POSIX_FADVISE(2) Linux Programmer's Manual POSIX_FADVISE(2)
posix_fadvise - predeclare an access pattern for file data
int posix_fadvise(int fd, off_t offset, off_t len, int advice);
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
_XOPEN_SOURCE >= 600 || _POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200112L
Programs can use posix_fadvise() to announce an intention to access file data in a spe-
cific pattern in the future, thus allowing the kernel to perform appropriate optimiza-
The advice applies to a (not necessarily existent) region starting at offset and extending
for len bytes (or until the end of the file if len is 0) within the file referred to by
fd. The advice is not binding; it merely constitutes an expectation on behalf of the
Permissible values for advice include:
Indicates that the application has no advice to give about its access pattern for
the specified data. If no advice is given for an open file, this is the default
The application expects to access the specified data sequentially (with lower off-
sets read before higher ones).
The specified data will be accessed in random order.
The specified data will be accessed only once.
The specified data will be accessed in the near future.
The specified data will not be accessed in the near future.
On success, zero is returned. On error, an error number is returned.
EBADF The fd argument was not a valid file descriptor.
EINVAL An invalid value was specified for advice.
ESPIPE The specified file descriptor refers to a pipe or FIFO. (Linux actually returns
EINVAL in this case.)
Kernel support first appeared in Linux 2.5.60; the underlying system call is called fad-
vise64(). Library support has been provided since glibc version 2.2, via the wrapper
POSIX.1-2001. Note that the type of the len argument was changed from size_t to off_t in
Under Linux, POSIX_FADV_NORMAL sets the readahead window to the default size for the back-
ing device; POSIX_FADV_SEQUENTIAL doubles this size, and POSIX_FADV_RANDOM disables file
readahead entirely. These changes affect the entire file, not just the specified region
(but other open file handles to the same file are unaffected).
POSIX_FADV_WILLNEED initiates a nonblocking read of the specified region into the page
cache. The amount of data read may be decreased by the kernel depending on virtual memory
load. (A few megabytes will usually be fully satisfied, and more is rarely useful.)
In kernels before 2.6.18, POSIX_FADV_NOREUSE had the same semantics as POSIX_FADV_WILL-
NEED. This was probably a bug; since kernel 2.6.18, this flag is a no-op.
POSIX_FADV_DONTNEED attempts to free cached pages associated with the specified region.
This is useful, for example, while streaming large files. A program may periodically
request the kernel to free cached data that has already been used, so that more useful
cached pages are not discarded instead.
Pages that have not yet been written out will be unaffected, so if the application wishes
to guarantee that pages will be released, it should call fsync(2) or fdatasync(2) first.
Some architectures require 64-bit arguments to be aligned in a suitable pair of registers
(see syscall(2) for further detail). On such architectures, the call signature of
posix_fadvise() shown in the SYNOPSIS would force a register to be wasted as padding
between the fd and len arguments. Therefore, these architectures define a version of the
system call that orders the arguments suitably, but otherwise is otherwise exactly the
same as posix_fadvise().
For example, since Linux 2.6.14, ARM has the following system call:
long arm_fadvise64_64(int fd, int advice,
loff_t offset, loff_t len);
These architecture-specific details are generally hidden from applications by the glibc
posix_fadvise() wrapper function, which invokes the appropriate architecture-specific sys-
In kernels before 2.6.6, if len was specified as 0, then this was interpreted literally as
"zero bytes", rather than as meaning "all bytes through to the end of the file".
readahead(2), sync_file_range(2), posix_fallocate(3), posix_madvise(3)
This page is part of release 3.55 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the
project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at
Linux 2013-04-01 POSIX_FADVISE(2)