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Linux 2.6 - man page for pclose (linux section 3)

POPEN(3)			    Linux Programmer's Manual				 POPEN(3)

       popen, pclose - pipe stream to or from a process

       #include <stdio.h>

       FILE *popen(const char *command, const char *type);

       int pclose(FILE *stream);

   Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):

       popen(), pclose():

       The  popen() function opens a process by creating a pipe, forking, and invoking the shell.
       Since a pipe is by definition unidirectional, the type argument may specify  only  reading
       or writing, not both; the resulting stream is correspondingly read-only or write-only.

       The  command  argument is a pointer to a null-terminated string containing a shell command
       line.  This command is passed to /bin/sh using the -c flag;  interpretation,  if  any,  is
       performed  by the shell.  The type argument is a pointer to a null-terminated string which
       must contain either the letter 'r' for reading or the letter 'w' for writing.  Since glibc
       2.9, this argument can additionally include the letter 'e', which causes the close-on-exec
       flag (FD_CLOEXEC) to be set on the underlying file descriptor; see the description of  the
       O_CLOEXEC flag in open(2) for reasons why this may be useful.

       The return value from popen() is a normal standard I/O stream in all respects save that it
       must be closed with pclose() rather than fclose(3).  Writing to such a  stream  writes  to
       the  standard  input  of the command; the command's standard output is the same as that of
       the process that called popen(), unless this is	altered  by  the  command  itself.   Con-
       versely, reading from a "popened" stream reads the command's standard output, and the com-
       mand's standard input is the same as that of the process that called popen().

       Note that output popen() streams are fully buffered by default.

       The pclose() function waits for the associated process to terminate and returns	the  exit
       status of the command as returned by wait4(2).

       The  popen()  function  returns NULL if the fork(2) or pipe(2) calls fail, or if it cannot
       allocate memory.

       The pclose() function returns -1 if wait4(2) returns an error,  or  some  other	error  is
       detected.   In  the  event of an error, these functions set errno to indicate the cause of
       the error.

       The popen() function does not set errno if memory allocation  fails.   If  the  underlying
       fork(2)	or  pipe(2)  fails, errno is set appropriately.  If the type argument is invalid,
       and this condition is detected, errno is set to EINVAL.

       If pclose() cannot obtain the child status, errno is set to ECHILD.


       The 'e' value for type is a Linux extension.

       Since the standard input of a command opened for reading shares its seek offset	with  the
       process	that  called  popen(), if the original process has done a buffered read, the com-
       mand's input position may not be as expected.  Similarly, the output from a command opened
       for  writing may become intermingled with that of the original process.	The latter can be
       avoided by calling fflush(3) before popen().

       Failure to execute the shell is indistinguishable from the shell's failure to execute com-
       mand, or an immediate exit of the command.  The only hint is an exit status of 127.

       sh(1), fork(2), pipe(2), wait4(2), fclose(3), fflush(3), fopen(3), stdio(3), system(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

GNU					    2013-04-19					 POPEN(3)

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