shm_unlink(3) — Linux manual page


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

NAME         top

       shm_open,  shm_unlink - create/open or unlink POSIX shared memory ob‐

SYNOPSIS         top

       #include <sys/mman.h>
       #include <sys/stat.h>        /* For mode constants */
       #include <fcntl.h>           /* For O_* constants */

       int shm_open(const char *name, int oflag, mode_t mode);

       int shm_unlink(const char *name);

       Link with -lrt.

DESCRIPTION         top

       shm_open() creates and opens a new, or opens an existing, POSIX
       shared memory object.  A POSIX shared memory object is in effect a
       handle which can be used by unrelated processes to mmap(2) the same
       region of shared memory.  The shm_unlink() function performs the
       converse operation, removing an object previously created by

       The operation of shm_open() is analogous to that of open(2).  name
       specifies the shared memory object to be created or opened.  For
       portable use, a shared memory object should be identified by a name
       of the form /somename; that is, a null-terminated string of up to
       NAME_MAX (i.e., 255) characters consisting of an initial slash,
       followed by one or more characters, none of which are slashes.

       oflag is a bit mask created by ORing together exactly one of O_RDONLY
       or O_RDWR and any of the other flags listed here:

              Open the object for read access.  A shared memory object
              opened in this way can be mmap(2)ed only for read (PROT_READ)

       O_RDWR Open the object for read-write access.

              Create the shared memory object if it does not exist.  The
              user and group ownership of the object are taken from the
              corresponding effective IDs of the calling process, and the
              object's permission bits are set according to the low-order 9
              bits of mode, except that those bits set in the process file
              mode creation mask (see umask(2)) are cleared for the new
              object.  A set of macro constants which can be used to define
              mode is listed in open(2).  (Symbolic definitions of these
              constants can be obtained by including <sys/stat.h>.)

              A new shared memory object initially has zero length—the size
              of the object can be set using ftruncate(2).  The newly
              allocated bytes of a shared memory object are automatically
              initialized to 0.

       O_EXCL If O_CREAT was also specified, and a shared memory object with
              the given name already exists, return an error.  The check for
              the existence of the object, and its creation if it does not
              exist, are performed atomically.

              If the shared memory object already exists, truncate it to
              zero bytes.

       Definitions of these flag values can be obtained by including

       On successful completion shm_open() returns a new file descriptor
       referring to the shared memory object.  This file descriptor is
       guaranteed to be the lowest-numbered file descriptor not previously
       opened within the process.  The FD_CLOEXEC flag (see fcntl(2)) is set
       for the file descriptor.

       The file descriptor is normally used in subsequent calls to
       ftruncate(2) (for a newly created object) and mmap(2).  After a call
       to mmap(2) the file descriptor may be closed without affecting the
       memory mapping.

       The operation of shm_unlink() is analogous to unlink(2): it removes a
       shared memory object name, and, once all processes have unmapped the
       object, de-allocates and destroys the contents of the associated
       memory region.  After a successful shm_unlink(), attempts to
       shm_open() an object with the same name fail (unless O_CREAT was
       specified, in which case a new, distinct object is created).

RETURN VALUE         top

       On success, shm_open() returns a file descriptor (a nonnegative
       integer).  On failure, shm_open() returns -1.  shm_unlink() returns 0
       on success, or -1 on error.

ERRORS         top

       On failure, errno is set to indicate the cause of the error.  Values
       which may appear in errno include the following:

       EACCES Permission to shm_unlink() the shared memory object was

       EACCES Permission was denied to shm_open() name in the specified
              mode, or O_TRUNC was specified and the caller does not have
              write permission on the object.

       EEXIST Both O_CREAT and O_EXCL were specified to shm_open() and the
              shared memory object specified by name already exists.

       EINVAL The name argument to shm_open() was invalid.

       EMFILE The per-process limit on the number of open file descriptors
              has been reached.

              The length of name exceeds PATH_MAX.

       ENFILE The system-wide limit on the total number of open files has
              been reached.

       ENOENT An attempt was made to shm_open() a name that did not exist,
              and O_CREAT was not specified.

       ENOENT An attempt was to made to shm_unlink() a name that does not

VERSIONS         top

       These functions are provided in glibc 2.2 and later.

ATTRIBUTES         top

       For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see

       │Interface                Attribute     Value          │
       │shm_open(), shm_unlink() │ Thread safety │ MT-Safe locale │

CONFORMING TO         top

       POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008.

       POSIX.1-2001 says that the group ownership of a newly created shared
       memory object is set to either the calling process's effective group
       ID or "a system default group ID".  POSIX.1-2008 says that the group
       ownership may be set to either the calling process's effective group
       ID or, if the object is visible in the filesystem, the group ID of
       the parent directory.

NOTES         top

       POSIX leaves the behavior of the combination of O_RDONLY and O_TRUNC
       unspecified.  On Linux, this will successfully truncate an existing
       shared memory object—this may not be so on other UNIX systems.

       The POSIX shared memory object implementation on Linux makes use of a
       dedicated tmpfs(5) filesystem that is normally mounted under

EXAMPLES         top

       The programs below employ POSIX shared memory and POSIX unnamed
       semaphores to exchange a piece of data.  The "bounce" program (which
       must be run first) raises the case of a string that is placed into
       the shared memory by the "send" program.  Once the data has been
       modified, the "send" program then prints the contents of the modified
       shared memory.  An example execution of the two programs is the

           $ ./pshm_ucase_bounce /myshm &
           [1] 270171
           $ ./pshm_ucase_send /myshm hello

       Further detail about these programs is provided below.

   Program source: pshm_ucase.h
       The following header file is included by both programs below.  Its
       primary purpose is to define a structure that will be imposed on the
       memory object that is shared between the two programs.

           #include <sys/mman.h>
           #include <fcntl.h>
           #include <semaphore.h>
           #include <sys/stat.h>
           #include <stdio.h>
           #include <stdlib.h>
           #include <unistd.h>

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

           #define BUF_SIZE 1024   /* Maximum size for exchanged string */

           /* Define a structure that will be imposed on the shared
              memory object */

           struct shmbuf {
               sem_t  sem1;            /* POSIX unnamed semaphore */
               sem_t  sem2;            /* POSIX unnamed semaphore */
               size_t cnt;             /* Number of bytes used in 'buf' */
               char   buf[BUF_SIZE];   /* Data being transferred */

   Program source: pshm_ucase_bounce.c
       The "bounce" program creates a new shared memory object with the name
       given in its command-line argument and sizes the object to match the
       size of the shmbuf structure defined in the header file.  It then
       maps the object into the process's address space, and initializes two
       POSIX semaphores inside the object to 0.

       After the "send" program has posted the first of the semaphores, the
       "bounce" program upper cases the data that has been placed in the
       memory by the "send" program and then posts the second semaphore to
       tell the "send" program that it may now access the shared memory.

           /* pshm_ucase_bounce.c

              Licensed under GNU General Public License v2 or later.
           #include <ctype.h>
           #include "pshm_ucase.h"

           main(int argc, char *argv[])
               if (argc != 2) {
                   fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s /shm-path\n", argv[0]);

               char *shmpath = argv[1];

               /* Create shared memory object and set its size to the size
                  of our structure */

               int fd = shm_open(shmpath, O_CREAT | O_EXCL | O_RDWR,
                                 S_IRUSR | S_IWUSR);
               if (fd == -1)

               if (ftruncate(fd, sizeof(struct shmbuf)) == -1)

               /* Map the object into the caller's address space */

               struct shmbuf *shmp = mmap(NULL, sizeof(*shmp),
                                          PROT_READ | PROT_WRITE,
                                          MAP_SHARED, fd, 0);
               if (shmp == MAP_FAILED)

               /* Initialize semaphores as process-shared, with value 0 */

               if (sem_init(&shmp->sem1, 1, 0) == -1)
               if (sem_init(&shmp->sem2, 1, 0) == -1)

               /* Wait for 'sem1' to be posted by peer before touching
                  shared memory */

               if (sem_wait(&shmp->sem1) == -1)

               /* Convert data in shared memory into upper case */

               for (int j = 0; j < shmp->cnt; j++)
                   shmp->buf[j] = toupper((unsigned char) shmp->buf[j]);

               /* Post 'sem2' to tell the to tell peer that it can now
                  access the modified data in shared memory */

               if (sem_post(&shmp->sem2) == -1)

               /* Unlink the shared memory object. Even if the peer process
                  is still using the object, this is okay. The object will
                  be removed only after all open references are closed. */



   Program source: pshm_ucase_send.c
       The "send" program takes two command-line arguments: the pathname of
       a shared memory object previously created by the "bounce" program and
       a string that is to be copied into that object.

       The program opens the shared memory object and maps the object into
       its address space.  It then copies the data specified in its second
       argument into the shared memory, and posts the first semaphore, which
       tells the "bounce" program that it can now access that data.  After
       the "bounce" program posts the second semaphore, the "send" program
       prints the contents of the shared memory on standard output.

           /* pshm_ucase_send.c

              Licensed under GNU General Public License v2 or later.
           #include <string.h>
           #include "pshm_ucase.h"

           main(int argc, char *argv[])
               if (argc != 3) {
                   fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s /shm-path string\n", argv[0]);

               char *shmpath = argv[1];
               char *string = argv[2];
               size_t len = strlen(string);

               if (len > BUF_SIZE) {
                   fprintf(stderr, "String is too long\n");

               /* Open the existing shared memory object and map it
                  into the caller's address space */

               int fd = shm_open(shmpath, O_RDWR, 0);
               if (fd == -1)

               struct shmbuf *shmp = mmap(NULL, sizeof(*shmp),
                                          PROT_READ | PROT_WRITE,
                                          MAP_SHARED, fd, 0);
               if (shmp == MAP_FAILED)

               /* Copy data into the shared memory object */

               shmp->cnt = len;
               memcpy(&shmp->buf, string, len);

               /* Tell peer that it can now access shared memory */

               if (sem_post(&shmp->sem1) == -1)

               /* Wait until peer says that it has finished accessing
                  the shared memory */

               if (sem_wait(&shmp->sem2) == -1)

               /* Write modified data in shared memory to standard output */

               write(STDOUT_FILENO, &shmp->buf, len);
               write(STDOUT_FILENO, "\n", 1);


SEE ALSO         top

       close(2), fchmod(2), fchown(2), fcntl(2), fstat(2), ftruncate(2),
       memfd_create(2), mmap(2), open(2), umask(2), shm_overview(7)

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of release 5.09 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
       description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
       latest version of this page, can be found at

Linux                            2020-11-01                      SHM_OPEN(3)

Pages that refer to this page: shm_overview(7)