SETPGID(3P) POSIX Programmer's Manual SETPGID(3P)
This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux implementation of this interface may differ (consult the correspond-
ing Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may not be implemented on Linux.
setpgid - set process group ID for job control
int setpgid(pid_t pid, pid_t pgid);
The setpgid() function shall either join an existing process group or create a new process group within the session of the calling process.
The process group ID of a session leader shall not change. Upon successful completion, the process group ID of the process with a process
ID that matches pid shall be set to pgid. As a special case, if pid is 0, the process ID of the calling process shall be used. Also, if
pgid is 0, the process ID of the indicated process shall be used.
Upon successful completion, setpgid() shall return 0; otherwise, -1 shall be returned and errno shall be set to indicate the error.
The setpgid() function shall fail if:
EACCES The value of the pid argument matches the process ID of a child process of the calling process and the child process has success-
fully executed one of the exec functions.
EINVAL The value of the pgid argument is less than 0, or is not a value supported by the implementation.
EPERM The process indicated by the pid argument is a session leader.
EPERM The value of the pid argument matches the process ID of a child process of the calling process and the child process is not in the
same session as the calling process.
EPERM The value of the pgid argument is valid but does not match the process ID of the process indicated by the pid argument and there is
no process with a process group ID that matches the value of the pgid argument in the same session as the calling process.
ESRCH The value of the pid argument does not match the process ID of the calling process or of a child process of the calling process.
The following sections are informative.
The setpgid() function shall group processes together for the purpose of signaling, placement in foreground or background, and other job
The setpgid() function is similar to the setpgrp() function of 4.2 BSD, except that 4.2 BSD allowed the specified new process group to
assume any value. This presents certain security problems and is more flexible than necessary to support job control.
To provide tighter security, setpgid() only allows the calling process to join a process group already in use inside its session or create
a new process group whose process group ID was equal to its process ID.
When a job control shell spawns a new job, the processes in the job must be placed into a new process group via setpgid(). There are two
timing constraints involved in this action:
1. The new process must be placed in the new process group before the appropriate program is launched via one of the exec functions.
2. The new process must be placed in the new process group before the shell can correctly send signals to the new process group.
To address these constraints, the following actions are performed. The new processes call setpgid() to alter their own process groups
after fork() but before exec. This satisfies the first constraint. Under 4.3 BSD, the second constraint is satisfied by the synchronization
property of vfork(); that is, the shell is suspended until the child has completed the exec, thus ensuring that the child has completed the
setpgid(). A new version of fork() with this same synchronization property was considered, but it was decided instead to merely allow the
parent shell process to adjust the process group of its child processes via setpgid(). Both timing constraints are now satisfied by having
both the parent shell and the child attempt to adjust the process group of the child process; it does not matter which succeeds first.
Since it would be confusing to an application to have its process group change after it began executing (that is, after exec), and because
the child process would already have adjusted its process group before this, the [EACCES] error was added to disallow this.
One non-obvious use of setpgid() is to allow a job control shell to return itself to its original process group (the one in effect when the
job control shell was executed). A job control shell does this before returning control back to its parent when it is terminating or sus-
pending itself as a way of restoring its job control "state" back to what its parent would expect. (Note that the original process group of
the job control shell typically matches the process group of its parent, but this is not necessarily always the case.)
exec(), getpgrp(), setsid(), tcsetpgrp(), the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, <sys/types.h>, <unistd.h>
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2003 Edition, Standard for Information Technol-
ogy -- 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 original Standard can be obtained
online at http://www.opengroup.org/unix/online.html .
/The Open Group 2003 SETPGID(3P)