LOCKF(P) POSIX Programmer's Manual LOCKF(P)
lockf - record locking on files
int lockf(int fildes, int function, off_t size);
The lockf() function shall lock sections of a file with advisory-mode locks. Calls to
lockf() from other threads which attempt to lock the locked file section shall either
return an error value or block until the section becomes unlocked. All the locks for a
process are removed when the process terminates. Record locking with lockf() shall be sup-
ported for regular files and may be supported for other files.
The fildes argument is an open file descriptor. To establish a lock with this function,
the file descriptor shall be opened with write-only permission (O_WRONLY) or with
read/write permission (O_RDWR).
The function argument is a control value which specifies the action to be taken. The per-
missible values for function are defined in <unistd.h> as follows:
F_ULOCK Unlock locked sections.
F_LOCK Lock a section for exclusive use.
F_TLOCK Test and lock a section for exclusive use.
F_TEST Test a section for locks by other processes.
F_TEST shall detect if a lock by another process is present on the specified section.
F_LOCK and F_TLOCK shall both lock a section of a file if the section is available.
F_ULOCK shall remove locks from a section of the file.
The size argument is the number of contiguous bytes to be locked or unlocked. The section
to be locked or unlocked starts at the current offset in the file and extends forward for
a positive size or backward for a negative size (the preceding bytes up to but not includ-
ing the current offset). If size is 0, the section from the current offset through the
largest possible file offset shall be locked (that is, from the current offset through the
present or any future end-of-file). An area need not be allocated to the file to be locked
because locks may exist past the end-of-file.
The sections locked with F_LOCK or F_TLOCK may, in whole or in part, contain or be con-
tained by a previously locked section for the same process. When this occurs, or if adja-
cent locked sections would occur, the sections shall be combined into a single locked sec-
tion. If the request would cause the number of locks to exceed a system-imposed limit, the
request shall fail.
F_LOCK and F_TLOCK requests differ only by the action taken if the section is not avail-
able. F_LOCK shall block the calling thread until the section is available. F_TLOCK shall
cause the function to fail if the section is already locked by another process.
File locks shall be released on first close by the locking process of any file descriptor
for the file.
F_ULOCK requests may release (wholly or in part) one or more locked sections controlled by
the process. Locked sections shall be unlocked starting at the current file offset through
size bytes or to the end-of-file if size is (off_t)0. When all of a locked section is not
released (that is, when the beginning or end of the area to be unlocked falls within a
locked section), the remaining portions of that section shall remain locked by the
process. Releasing the center portion of a locked section shall cause the remaining locked
beginning and end portions to become two separate locked sections. If the request would
cause the number of locks in the system to exceed a system-imposed limit, the request
A potential for deadlock occurs if the threads of a process controlling a locked section
are blocked by accessing another process' locked section. If the system detects that dead-
lock would occur, lockf() shall fail with an [EDEADLK] error.
The interaction between fcntl() and lockf() locks is unspecified.
Blocking on a section shall be interrupted by any signal.
An F_ULOCK request in which size is non-zero and the offset of the last byte of the
requested section is the maximum value for an object of type off_t, when the process has
an existing lock in which size is 0 and which includes the last byte of the requested sec-
tion, shall be treated as a request to unlock from the start of the requested section with
a size equal to 0. Otherwise, an F_ULOCK request shall attempt to unlock only the
Attempting to lock a section of a file that is associated with a buffered stream produces
Upon successful completion, lockf() shall return 0. Otherwise, it shall return -1, set
errno to indicate an error, and existing locks shall not be changed.
The lockf() function shall fail if:
EBADF The fildes argument is not a valid open file descriptor; or function is F_LOCK or
F_TLOCK and fildes is not a valid file descriptor open for writing.
EACCES or EAGAIN
The function argument is F_TLOCK or F_TEST and the section is already locked by
The function argument is F_LOCK and a deadlock is detected.
EINTR A signal was caught during execution of the function.
EINVAL The function argument is not one of F_LOCK, F_TLOCK, F_TEST, or F_ULOCK; or size
plus the current file offset is less than 0.
The offset of the first, or if size is not 0 then the last, byte in the requested
section cannot be represented correctly in an object of type off_t.
The lockf() function may fail if:
EAGAIN The function argument is F_LOCK or F_TLOCK and the file is mapped with mmap().
EDEADLK or ENOLCK
The function argument is F_LOCK, F_TLOCK, or F_ULOCK, and the request would cause
the number of locks to exceed a system-imposed limit.
EOPNOTSUPP or EINVAL
The implementation does not support the locking of files of the type indicated by
the fildes argument.
The following sections are informative.
Locking a Portion of a File
In the following example, a file named /home/cnd/mod1 is being modified. Other processes
that use locking are prevented from changing it during this process. Only the first 10000
bytes are locked, and the lock call fails if another process has any part of this area
fildes = open("/home/cnd/mod1", O_RDWR);
status = lockf(fildes, F_TLOCK, (off_t)10000);
Record-locking should not be used in combination with the fopen(), fread(), fwrite(), and
other stdio functions. Instead, the more primitive, non-buffered functions (such as
open()) should be used. Unexpected results may occur in processes that do buffering in the
user address space. The process may later read/write data which is/was locked. The stdio
functions are the most common source of unexpected buffering.
The alarm() function may be used to provide a timeout facility in applications requiring
alarm() , chmod() , close() , creat() , fcntl() , fopen() , mmap() , open() , read() ,
write() , the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, <unistd.h>
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form from IEEE Std
1003.1, 2003 Edition, Standard for Information Technology -- Portable Operating System
Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6, Copyright (C) 2001-2003 by
the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. In the
event of any discrepancy between this version and the original IEEE and The Open Group
Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard is the referee document. The orig-
inal Standard can be obtained online at http://www.opengroup.org/unix/online.html .
IEEE/The Open Group 2003 LOCKF(P)