SELECT(2)                 NetBSD System Calls Manual                 SELECT(2)

     select, pselect -- synchronous I/O multiplexing

     Standard C Library (libc, -lc)

     #include <sys/select.h>

     select(int nfds, fd_set * restrict readfds, fd_set * restrict writefds,
         fd_set * restrict exceptfds, struct timeval * restrict timeout);

     pselect(int nfds, fd_set * restrict readfds, fd_set * restrict writefds,
         fd_set * restrict exceptfds, const struct timespec *restrict timeout,
         const sigset_t * restrict sigmask);

     FD_SET(int fd, fd_set *fdset);

     FD_CLR(int fd, fd_set *fdset);

     FD_ISSET(int fd, fd_set *fdset);

     FD_ZERO(fd_set *fdset);

     select() and pselect() examine the I/O descriptor sets whose addresses
     are passed in readfds, writefds, and exceptfds to see if some of their
     descriptors are ready for reading, are ready for writing, or have an
     exceptional condition pending, respectively.  The first nfds descriptors
     are checked in each set; i.e., the descriptors from 0 through nfds-1 in
     the descriptor sets are examined.  On return, select() and pselect()
     replace the given descriptor sets with subsets consisting of those
     descriptors that are ready for the requested operation.  select() and
     pselect() return the total number of ready descriptors in all the sets.

     The descriptor sets are stored as bit fields in arrays of integers.  The
     following macros are provided for manipulating such descriptor sets:
     FD_ZERO(fdset) initializes a descriptor set pointed to by fdset to the
     null set.  FD_SET(fd, fdset) includes a particular descriptor fd in
     fdset.  FD_CLR(fd, fdset) removes fd from fdset.  FD_ISSET(fd, fdset) is
     non-zero if fd is a member of fdset, zero otherwise.  The behavior of
     these macros is undefined if a descriptor value is less than zero or
     greater than or equal to FD_SETSIZE, which is normally at least equal to
     the maximum number of descriptors supported by the system.

     If timeout is a non-null pointer, it specifies a maximum interval to wait
     for the selection to complete.  If timeout is a null pointer, the select
     blocks indefinitely.  To affect a poll, the timeout argument should be
     non-null, pointing to a zero-valued timeval or timespec structure, as
     appropriate.  timeout is not changed by select(), and may be reused on
     subsequent calls; however, it is good style to re-initialize it before
     each invocation of select().

     If sigmask is a non-null pointer, then the pselect() function shall
     replace the signal mask of the caller by the set of signals pointed to by
     sigmask before examining the descriptors, and shall restore the signal
     mask of the calling thread before returning.

     Any of readfds, writefds, and exceptfds may be given as null pointers if
     no descriptors are of interest.

     select() returns the number of ready descriptors that are contained in
     the descriptor sets, or -1 if an error occurred.  If the time limit
     expires, select() returns 0.  If select() returns with an error, includ-
     ing one due to an interrupted call, the descriptor sets will be unmodi-

     An error return from select() indicates:

     [EFAULT]           One or more of readfds, writefds, or exceptfds points
                        outside the process's allocated address space.

     [EBADF]            One of the descriptor sets specified an invalid

     [EINTR]            A signal was delivered before the time limit expired
                        and before any of the selected events occurred.

     [EINVAL]           The specified time limit is invalid.  One of its com-
                        ponents is negative or too large.

     accept(2), connect(2), gettimeofday(2), poll(2), read(2), recv(2),
     send(2), write(2), getdtablesize(3)

     The select() function call appeared in 4.2BSD.

     Although the provision of getdtablesize(3) was intended to allow user
     programs to be written independent of the kernel limit on the number of
     open files, the dimension of a sufficiently large bit field for select
     remains a problem.  The default bit size of fd_set is based on the symbol
     FD_SETSIZE (currently 256), but that is somewhat smaller than the current
     kernel limit to the number of open files.  However, in order to accommo-
     date programs which might potentially use a larger number of open files
     with select, it is possible to increase this size within a program by
     providing a larger definition of FD_SETSIZE before the inclusion of
     <sys/types.h>.  The kernel will cope, and the userland libraries provided
     with the system are also ready for large numbers of file descriptors.

     Note: rpc(3) library uses fd_set with the default FD_SETSIZE as part of
     its ABI.  Therefore, programs that use rpc(3) routines cannot change

     Alternatively, to be really safe, it is possible to allocate fd_set bit-
     arrays dynamically.  The idea is to permit a program to work properly
     even if it is execve(2)'d with 4000 file descriptors pre-allocated.  The
     following illustrates the technique which is used by userland libraries:

                   fd_set *fdsr;
                   int max = fd;

                   fdsr = (fd_set *)calloc(howmany(max+1, NFDBITS),
                   if (fdsr == NULL) {
                           return (-1);
                   FD_SET(fd, fdsr);
                   n = select(max+1, fdsr, NULL, NULL, &tv);

     Alternatively, it is possible to use the poll(2) interface.  poll(2) is
     more efficient when the size of select()'s fd_set bit-arrays are very
     large, and for fixed numbers of file descriptors one need not size and
     dynamically allocate a memory object.

     select() should probably have been designed to return the time remaining
     from the original timeout, if any, by modifying the time value in place.
     Even though some systems stupidly act in this different way, it is
     unlikely this semantic will ever be commonly implemented, as the change
     causes massive source code compatibility problems.  Furthermore, recent
     new standards have dictated the current behaviour.  In general, due to
     the existence of those non-conforming systems, it is unwise to assume
     that the timeout value will be unmodified by the select() call, and the
     caller should reinitialize it on each invocation.  Calculating the delta
     is easily done by calling gettimeofday(2) before and after the call to
     select(), and using timersub() (as described in getitimer(2)).

     Internally to the kernel, select() works poorly if multiple processes
     wait on the same file descriptor.

NetBSD 4.0                       March 5, 2005                      NetBSD 4.0

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