cap_to_text(3) — Linux manual page


CAP_FROM_TEXT(3)          Linux Programmer's Manual         CAP_FROM_TEXT(3)

NAME         top

       cap_from_text,  cap_to_text,  cap_to_name, cap_from_name - capability
       state textual representation translation

SYNOPSIS         top

       #include <sys/capability.h>

       cap_t cap_from_text(const char* buf_p );
       char *cap_to_text(cap_t caps, ssize_t * length_p);
       int cap_from_name(const char* name , cap_value_t* cap_p);
       char *cap_to_name(cap_value_t cap);
       Link with -lcap.

DESCRIPTION         top

       These functions translate a capability state between an internal
       representation and a textual one.  The internal representation is
       managed by the capability functions in working storage. The textual
       representation is a structured, human-readable string suitable for

       cap_from_text() allocates and initializes a capability state in
       working storage. It then sets the contents of this newly created
       capability state to the state represented by a human-readable, nul-
       terminated character string pointed to by buf_p.  It returns a
       pointer to the newly created capability state.  When the capability
       state in working storage is no longer required, the caller should
       free any releasable memory by calling cap_free() with cap_t as an
       argument.  The function returns an error if it cannot parse the
       contents of the string pointed to by buf_p or does not recognize any
       capability_name or flag character as valid.  The function also
       returns an error if any flag is both set and cleared within a single

       cap_to_text() converts the capability state in working storage
       identified by cap_p into a nul-terminated human-readable string.
       This function allocates any memory necessary to contain the string,
       and returns a pointer to the string.  If the pointer len_p is not
       NULL, the function shall also return the full length of the string
       (not including the nul terminator) in the location pointed to by
       len_p.  The capability state in working storage, identified by cap_p,
       is completely represented in the character string.  When the
       capability state in working storage is no longer required, the caller
       should free any releasable memory by calling cap_free() with the
       returned string pointer as an argument.

       cap_from_name() converts a text representation of a capability, such
       as "cap_chown", to its numerical representation (CAP_CHOWN=0),
       writing the decoded value into *cap_p.  If cap_p is NULL no result is
       written, but the return code of the function indicates whether or not
       the specified capability can be represented by the library.

       cap_to_name() converts a capability index value, cap, to a libcap-
       allocated textual string. This string should be deallocated with


       A textual representation of capability sets consists of one or more
       whitespace-separated clauses.  Each clause specifies some operations
       on a capability set; the set starts out with all capabilities
       lowered, and the meaning of the string is the state of the capability
       set after all the clauses have been applied in order.

       Each clause consists of a list of comma-separated capability names
       (or the word `all'), followed by an action-list.  An action-list
       consists of a sequence of operator flag pairs.  Legal operators are:
       `=', '+', and `-'.  Legal flags are: `e', `i', and `p'.  These flags
       are case-sensitive and specify the Effective, Inheritable and
       Permitted sets respectively.

       In the capability name lists, all names are case-insensitive.  The
       special name `all' specifies all capabilities; it is equivalent to a
       list naming every capability individually.

       Unnamed capabilities can also be specified by number. This feature
       ensures that libcap can support capabilities that were not allocated
       at the time libcap was compiled. However, generally upgrading libcap
       will add names for recently allocated capabilities.

       The `=' operator indicates that the listed capabilities are first
       reset in all three capability sets.  The subsequent flags (which are
       optional when associated with this operator) indicate that the listed
       capabilities for the corresponding set are to be raised.  For
       example: "all=p" means lower every capability in the Effective and
       Inheritable sets but raise all of the Permitted capabilities; or,
       "cap_fowner=ep" means raise the Effective and Permitted override-
       file-ownership capability, while lowering this Inheritable

       In the case that the leading operator is `=', and no list of
       capabilities is provided, the action-list is assumed to refer to
       `all' capabilities.  For example, the following three clauses are
       equivalent to each other (and indicate a completely empty capability
       set): "all="; "="; "cap_chown,<every-other-capability>=".

       The operators, `+' and `-' both require an explicit preceding
       capability list and one or more explicit trailing flags.  The `+'
       operator will raise all of the listed capabilities in the flagged
       capability sets.  The `-' operator will lower all of the listed
       capabilities in the flagged capability sets.  For example: "all+p"
       will raise all of the Permitted capabilities and "cap_fowner-i" will
       lower the override-file-ownership in the Inheritable set.

       The action list can consist of multiple operator flag pairs; the
       actions are performed in left-to-right order.  Thus, for example,
       "cap_fowner+p-i" is equivalent to "cap_fowner+p cap_fowner-i".  As
       another example, "cap_fowner+pe-i" and "cap_fowner=+pe" are

RETURN VALUE         top

       cap_from_text(), cap_to_text() and cap_to_name() return a non-NULL
       value on success, and NULL on failure.  cap_from_name() returns 0 for
       success, and -1 on failure (unknown capability).

       On failure, errno is set to EINVAL, or ENOMEM.

CONFORMING TO         top

       cap_from_text() and cap_to_text() are specified by the withdrawn
       POSIX.1e draft specification.  cap_from_name() and cap_to_name() are
       Linux extensions.

EXAMPLE         top

       The example program below demonstrates the use of cap_from_text() and
       cap_to_text().  The following shell session shows some example runs:

       $ ./a.out "cap_chown=p cap_chown+e"
       caps_to_text() returned "cap_chown=ep"
       $ ./a.out "all=pe cap_chown-e cap_kill-pe"
       caps_to_text() returned "=ep cap_chown-e cap_kill-ep"

       The source code of the program is as follows:

       #include <stdlib.h>
       #include <stdio.h>
       #include <sys/capability.h>

       #define handle_error(msg) \
           do { perror(msg); exit(EXIT_FAILURE); } while (0)

       main(int argc, char *argv[])
           cap_t caps;
           char *txt_caps;

           if (argc != 2) {
               fprintf(stderr, "%s <textual-cap-set>\n", argv[0]);

           caps = cap_from_text(argv[1]);
           if (caps == NULL)

           txt_caps = cap_to_text(caps, NULL);
           if (txt_caps == NULL)

           printf("caps_to_text() returned \"%s\"\n", txt_caps);

           if (cap_free(txt_caps) != 0 || cap_free(caps) != 0)


SEE ALSO         top

       libcap(3), cap_clear(3), cap_copy_ext(3), cap_get_file(3),
       cap_get_proc(3), cap_init(3), capabilities(7)

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the libcap (capabilities commands and library)
       project.  Information about the project can be found at 
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       (please put "libcap" in the Subject line).  This page was obtained
       from the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨⟩ on
       2020-11-01.  (At that time, the date of the most recent commit that
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       rendering problems in this HTML version of the page, or you believe
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       (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to

                                 2008-05-10                 CAP_FROM_TEXT(3)

Pages that refer to this page: org.freedesktop.systemd1(5)getcap(8)