SEMGET(2) Linux Programmer's Manual SEMGET(2)
semget - get a semaphore set identifier
int semget(key_t key, int nsems, int semflg);
This function returns the semaphore set identifier associated with the argument key. A
new set of nsems semaphores is created if key has the value IPC_PRIVATE or if no existing
semaphore set is associated to key and IPC_CREAT is asserted in semflg (i.e. semflg &
IPC_CREAT isn't zero).
The presence in semflg of the fields IPC_CREAT and IPC_EXCL plays the same role, with
respect to the existence of the semaphore set, as the presence of O_CREAT and O_EXCL in
the mode argument of the open(2) system call: i.e. the semget function fails if semflg
asserts both IPC_CREAT and IPC_EXCL and a semaphore set already exists for key.
Upon creation, the low-order 9 bits of the argument semflg define the access permissions
(for owner, group and others) for the semaphore set. These bits have the same format, and
the same meaning, as the mode argument in the open(2) or creat(2) system calls (though the
execute permissions are not meaningful for semaphores, and write permissions mean permis-
sion to alter semaphore values).
When creating a new semaphore set, semget initializes the semaphore set's associated data
structure semid_ds as follows:
sem_perm.cuid and sem_perm.uid are set to the effective user-ID of the calling
sem_perm.cgid and sem_perm.gid are set to the effective group-ID of the calling
The low-order 9 bits of sem_perm.mode are set to the low-order 9 bits of semflg.
sem_nsems is set to the value of nsems.
sem_otime is set to 0.
sem_ctime is set to the current time.
The argument nsems can be 0 (a don't care) when a semaphore set is not being created.
Otherwise nsems must be greater than 0 and less than or equal to the maximum number of
semaphores per semaphore set (SEMMSL).
If the semaphore set already exists, the access permissions are verified.
If successful, the return value will be the semaphore set identifier (a nonnegative inte-
ger), otherwise -1 is returned, with errno indicating the error.
On failure errno will be set to one of the following:
EACCES A semaphore set exists for key, but the calling process does not have permis-
sion to access the set.
EEXIST A semaphore set exists for key and semflg was asserting both IPC_CREAT and
ENOENT No semaphore set exists for key and semflg wasn't asserting IPC_CREAT.
EINVAL nsems is less than 0 or greater than the limit on the number of semaphores per
semaphore set (SEMMSL), or a semaphore set corresponding to key already exists,
and nsems is larger than the number of semaphores in that set.
ENOMEM A semaphore set has to be created but the system has not enough memory for the
new data structure.
ENOSPC A semaphore set has to be created but the system limit for the maximum number
of semaphore sets (SEMMNI), or the system wide maximum number of semaphores
(SEMMNS), would be exceeded.
IPC_PRIVATE isn't a flag field but a key_t type. If this special value is used for key,
the system call ignores everything but the low-order 9 bits of semflg and creates a new
semaphore set (on success).
The followings are limits on semaphore set resources affecting a semget call:
SEMMNI System wide maximum number of semaphore sets: policy dependent.
SEMMSL Maximum number of semaphores per semid: implementation dependent (500 cur-
SEMMNS System wide maximum number of semaphores: policy dependent. Values greater
than SEMMSL * SEMMNI makes it irrelevant.
Use of IPC_PRIVATE doesn't inhibit to other processes the access to the allocated sema-
There is currently no intrinsic way for a process to ensure exclusive access to a sema-
phore set. Asserting both IPC_CREAT and IPC_EXCL in semflg only ensures (on success) that
a new semaphore set will be created, it doesn't imply exclusive access to the semaphore
The data structure associated with each semaphore in the set isn't initialized by the sys-
tem call. In order to initialize those data structures, one has to execute a subsequent
call to semctl(2) to perform a SETVAL or a SETALL command on the semaphore set.
SVr4, SVID. SVr4 documents additional error conditions EFBIG, E2BIG, EAGAIN, ERANGE,
ftok(3), ipc(5), semctl(2), semop(2)
Linux 2.5 2002-01-04 SEMGET(2)