EXECVE(2) Linux Programmer's Manual EXECVE(2)
execve - execute program
int execve(const char *filename, char *const argv , char *const envp);
execve() executes the program pointed to by filename. filename must be either a binary
executable, or a script starting with a line of the form "#! interpreter [arg]". In the
latter case, the interpreter must be a valid pathname for an executable which is not
itself a script, which will be invoked as interpreter [arg] filename.
argv is an array of argument strings passed to the new program. envp is an array of
strings, conventionally of the form key=value, which are passed as environment to the new
program. Both, argv and envp must be terminated by a null pointer. The argument vector
and environment can be accessed by the called program's main function, when it is defined
as int main(int argc, char *argv, char *envp).
execve() does not return on success, and the text, data, bss, and stack of the calling
process are overwritten by that of the program loaded. The program invoked inherits the
calling process's PID, and any open file descriptors that are not set to close on exec.
Signals pending on the calling process are cleared. Any signals set to be caught by the
calling process are reset to their default behaviour. The SIGCHLD signal (when set to
SIG_IGN) may or may not be reset to SIG_DFL.
If the current program is being ptraced, a SIGTRAP is sent to it after a successful
If the set-uid bit is set on the program file pointed to by filename the effective user ID
of the calling process is changed to that of the owner of the program file. Similarly,
when the set-gid bit of the program file is set the effective group ID of the calling
process is set to the group of the program file.
If the executable is an a.out dynamically-linked binary executable containing shared-
library stubs, the Linux dynamic linker ld.so(8) is called at the start of execution to
bring needed shared libraries into core and link the executable with them.
If the executable is a dynamically-linked ELF executable, the interpreter named in the
PT_INTERP segment is used to load the needed shared libraries. This interpreter is typi-
cally /lib/ld-linux.so.1 for binaries linked with the Linux libc version 5, or /lib/ld-
linux.so.2 for binaries linked with the GNU libc version 2.
On success, execve() does not return, on error -1 is returned, and errno is set appropri-
EACCES The file or a script interpreter is not a regular file.
EACCES Execute permission is denied for the file or a script or ELF interpreter.
EACCES The file system is mounted noexec.
EPERM The file system is mounted nosuid, the user is not the superuser, and the file has
an SUID or SGID bit set.
EPERM The process is being traced, the user is not the superuser and the file has an SUID
or SGID bit set.
E2BIG The argument list is too big.
An executable is not in a recognised format, is for the wrong architecture, or has
some other format error that means it cannot be executed.
EFAULT filename points outside your accessible address space.
filename is too long.
ENOENT The file filename or a script or ELF interpreter does not exist, or a shared
library needed for file or interpreter cannot be found.
ENOMEM Insufficient kernel memory was available.
A component of the path prefix of filename or a script or ELF interpreter is not a
EACCES Search permission is denied on a component of the path prefix of filename or the
name of a script interpreter.
ELOOP Too many symbolic links were encountered in resolving filename or the name of a
script or ELF interpreter.
Executable was open for writing by one or more processes.
EIO An I/O error occurred.
ENFILE The limit on the total number of files open on the system has been reached.
EMFILE The process has the maximum number of files open.
EINVAL An ELF executable had more than one PT_INTERP segment (i.e., tried to name more
than one interpreter).
EISDIR An ELF interpreter was a directory.
An ELF interpreter was not in a recognised format.
SVr4, SVID, X/OPEN, BSD 4.3. POSIX does not document the #! behavior but is otherwise
compatible. SVr4 documents additional error conditions EAGAIN, EINTR, ELIBACC, ENOLINK,
EMULTIHOP; POSIX does not document ETXTBSY, EPERM, EFAULT, ELOOP, EIO, ENFILE, EMFILE,
EINVAL, EISDIR or ELIBBAD error conditions.
SUID and SGID processes can not be ptrace()d.
Linux ignores the SUID and SGID bits on scripts.
The result of mounting a filesystem nosuid vary between Linux kernel versions: some will
refuse execution of SUID/SGID executables when this would give the user powers she did not
have already (and return EPERM), some will just ignore the SUID/SGID bits and exec suc-
A maximum line length of 127 characters is allowed for the first line in a #! executable
chmod(2), fork(2), execl(3), environ(5), ld.so(8)
Linux 2.0.30 1997-09-03 EXECVE(2)