PTHREAD_CANCEL(3P) POSIX Programmer's Manual PTHREAD_CANCEL(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.
pthread_cancel -- cancel execution of a thread
int pthread_cancel(pthread_t thread);
The pthread_cancel() function shall request that thread be canceled. The target thread's cancelability state and type determines when the
cancellation takes effect. When the cancellation is acted on, the cancellation cleanup handlers for thread shall be called. When the last
cancellation cleanup handler returns, the thread-specific data destructor functions shall be called for thread. When the last destructor
function returns, thread shall be terminated.
The cancellation processing in the target thread shall run asynchronously with respect to the calling thread returning from pthread_can-
If successful, the pthread_cancel() function shall return zero; otherwise, an error number shall be returned to indicate the error.
The pthread_cancel() function shall not return an error code of [EINTR].
The following sections are informative.
Two alternative functions were considered for sending the cancellation notification to a thread. One would be to define a new SIGCANCEL
signal that had the cancellation semantics when delivered; the other was to define the new pthread_cancel() function, which would trigger
the cancellation semantics.
The advantage of a new signal was that so much of the delivery criteria were identical to that used when trying to deliver a signal that
making cancellation notification a signal was seen as consistent. Indeed, many implementations implement cancellation using a special sig-
nal. On the other hand, there would be no signal functions that could be used with this signal except pthread_kill(), and the behavior of
the delivered cancellation signal would be unlike any previously existing defined signal.
The benefits of a special function include the recognition that this signal would be defined because of the similar delivery criteria and
that this is the only common behavior between a cancellation request and a signal. In addition, the cancellation delivery mechanism does
not have to be implemented as a signal. There are also strong, if not stronger, parallels with language exception mechanisms than with sig-
nals that are potentially obscured if the delivery mechanism is visibly closer to signals.
In the end, it was considered that as there were so many exceptions to the use of the new signal with existing signals functions it would
be misleading. A special function has resolved this problem. This function was carefully defined so that an implementation wishing to pro-
vide the cancellation functions on top of signals could do so. The special function also means that implementations are not obliged to
implement cancellation with signals.
If an implementation detects use of a thread ID after the end of its lifetime, it is recommended that the function should fail and report
an [ESRCH] error.
pthread_exit(), pthread_cond_timedwait(), pthread_join(), pthread_setcancelstate()
The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1-2008, <pthread.h>
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition, Standard for Information Technol-
ogy -- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7, Copyright (C) 2013 by the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. (This is POSIX.1-2008 with the 2013 Technical Corrigendum 1 applied.) 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 Stan-
dard is the referee document. The original Standard can be obtained online at http://www.unix.org/online.html .
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files to man page format. To report such errors, see https://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/reporting_bugs.html .
/The Open Group 2013 PTHREAD_CANCEL(3P)