PIVOT_ROOT(2) Linux Programmer's Manual PIVOT_ROOT(2)
pivot_root - change the root file system
int pivot_root(const char *new_root, const char *put_old);
pivot_root() moves the root file system of the calling process to the directory put_old
and makes new_root the new root file system of the calling process.
The typical use of pivot_root() is during system startup, when the system mounts a tempo-
rary root file system (e.g., an initrd), then mounts the real root file system, and even-
tually turns the latter into the current root of all relevant processes or threads.
pivot_root() may or may not change the current root and the current working directory of
any processes or threads which use the old root directory. The caller of pivot_root()
must ensure that processes with root or current working directory at the old root operate
correctly in either case. An easy way to ensure this is to change their root and current
working directory to new_root before invoking pivot_root().
The paragraph above is intentionally vague because the implementation of pivot_root() may
change in the future. At the time of writing, pivot_root() changes root and current work-
ing directory of each process or thread to new_root if they point to the old root direc-
tory. This is necessary in order to prevent kernel threads from keeping the old root
directory busy with their root and current working directory, even if they never access
the file system in any way. In the future, there may be a mechanism for kernel threads to
explicitly relinquish any access to the file system, such that this fairly intrusive mech-
anism can be removed from pivot_root().
Note that this also applies to the calling process: pivot_root() may or may not affect its
current working directory. It is therefore recommended to call chdir("/") immediately
The following restrictions apply to new_root and put_old:
- They must be directories.
- new_root and put_old must not be on the same file system as the current root.
- put_old must be underneath new_root, that is, adding a nonzero number of /.. to the
string pointed to by put_old must yield the same directory as new_root.
- No other file system may be mounted on put_old.
See also pivot_root(8) for additional usage examples.
If the current root is not a mount point (e.g., after chroot(2) or pivot_root(), see also
below), not the old root directory, but the mount point of that file system is mounted on
new_root does not have to be a mount point. In this case, /proc/mounts will show the
mount point of the file system containing new_root as root (/).
On success, zero is returned. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.
pivot_root() may return (in errno) any of the errors returned by stat(2). Additionally,
it may return:
EBUSY new_root or put_old are on the current root file system, or a file system is
already mounted on put_old.
EINVAL put_old is not underneath new_root.
new_root or put_old is not a directory.
EPERM The calling process does not have the CAP_SYS_ADMIN capability.
pivot_root() was introduced in Linux 2.3.41.
pivot_root() is Linux-specific and hence is not portable.
Glibc does not provide a wrapper for this system call; call it using syscall(2).
pivot_root() should not have to change root and current working directory of all other
processes in the system.
Some of the more obscure uses of pivot_root() may quickly lead to insanity.
chdir(2), chroot(2), stat(2), initrd(4), pivot_root(8)
This page is part of release 3.25 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the
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Linux 2007-06-01 PIVOT_ROOT(2)