PIDFD_OPEN(2)             (2020-08-13)              PIDFD_OPEN(2)

          pidfd_open - obtain a file descriptor that refers to a

          #include <sys/types.h>

          int pidfd_open(pid_t pid, unsigned int flags);

          The pidfd_open() system call creates a file descriptor that
          refers to the process whose PID is specified in pid. The
          file descriptor is returned as the function result; the
          close-on-exec flag is set on the file descriptor.

          The flags argument is reserved for future use; currently,
          this argument must be specified as 0.

          On success, pidfd_open() returns a file descriptor (a non-
          negative integer).  On error, -1 is returned and errno is
          set to indicate the cause of the error.

               flags is not 0.

               pid is not valid.

               The per-process limit on the number of open file
               descriptors has been reached (see the description of
               RLIMIT_NOFILE in getrlimit(2)).

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

               The anonymous inode filesystem is not available in this

               Insufficient kernel memory was available.

               The process specified by pid does not exist.


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          pidfd_open() first appeared in Linux 5.3.

          pidfd_open() is Linux specific.

          Currently, there is no glibc wrapper for this system call;
          call it using syscall(2).

          The following code sequence can be used to obtain a file
          descriptor for the child of fork(2):

              pid = fork();
              if (pid > 0) {     /* If parent */
                  pidfd = pidfd_open(pid, 0);

          Even if the child has already terminated by the time of the
          pidfd_open() call, its PID will not have been recycled and
          the returned file descriptor will refer to the resulting
          zombie process.  Note, however, that this is guaranteed only
          if the following conditions hold true:

          +o the disposition of SIGCHLD has not been explicitly set to
            SIG_IGN (see sigaction(2));

          +o the SA_NOCLDWAIT flag was not specified while establishing
            a handler for SIGCHLD or while setting the disposition of
            that signal to SIG_DFL (see sigaction(2)); and

          +o the zombie process was not reaped elsewhere in the program
            (e.g., either by an asynchronously executed signal handler
            or by wait(2) or similar in another thread).

          If any of these conditions does not hold, then the child
          process (along with a PID file descriptor that refers to it)
          should instead be created using clone(2) with the
          CLONE_PIDFD flag.

        Use cases for PID file descriptors
          A PID file descriptor returned by pidfd_open() (or by
          clone(2) with the CLONE_PID flag) can be used for the fol-
          lowing purposes:

          +o The pidfd_send_signal(2) system call can be used to send a
            signal to the process referred to by a PID file descrip-

          +o A PID file descriptor can be monitored using poll(2),
            select(2), and epoll(7).  When the process that it refers
            to terminates, these interfaces indicate the file

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            descriptor as readable.  Note, however, that in the cur-
            rent implementation, nothing can be read from the file
            descriptor (read(2) on the file descriptor fails with the
            error EINVAL).

          +o If the PID file descriptor refers to a child of the call-
            ing process, then it can be waited on using waitid(2).

          +o The pidfd_getfd(2) system call can be used to obtain a
            duplicate of a file descriptor of another process referred
            to by a PID file descriptor.

          +o A PID file descriptor can be used as the argument of
            setns(2) in order to move into one or more of the same
            namespaces as the process referred to by the file descrip-

          The pidfd_open() system call is the preferred way of obtain-
          ing a PID file descriptor for an already existing process.
          The alternative is to obtain a file descriptor by opening a
          /proc/[pid] directory.  However, the latter technique is
          possible only if the proc(5) filesystem is mounted; further-
          more, the file descriptor obtained in this way is not pol-
          lable and can't be waited on with waitid(2).

          The program below opens a PID file descriptor for the pro-
          cess whose PID is specified as its command-line argument.
          It then uses poll(2) to monitor the file descriptor for pro-
          cess exit, as indicated by an EPOLLIN event.

        Program source

          #define _GNU_SOURCE
          #include <sys/types.h>
          #include <sys/syscall.h>
          #include <unistd.h>
          #include <poll.h>
          #include <stdlib.h>
          #include <stdio.h>

          #ifndef __NR_pidfd_open
          #define __NR_pidfd_open 434   /* System call # on most architectures */

          static int
          pidfd_open(pid_t pid, unsigned int flags)
              return syscall(__NR_pidfd_open, pid, flags);


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     PIDFD_OPEN(2)             (2020-08-13)              PIDFD_OPEN(2)

          main(int argc, char *argv[])
              struct pollfd pollfd;
              int pidfd, ready;

              if (argc != 2) {
                  fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s <pid>\n", argv[0]);

              pidfd = pidfd_open(atoi(argv[1]), 0);
              if (pidfd == -1) {

              pollfd.fd = pidfd;
     = POLLIN;

              ready = poll(&pollfd, 1, -1);
              if (ready == -1) {

              printf("Events (%#x): POLLIN is %sset\n", pollfd.revents,
                      (pollfd.revents & POLLIN) ? "" : "not ");


          clone(2), kill(2), pidfd_getfd(2), pidfd_send_signal(2),
          poll(2), select(2), setns(2), waitid(2), epoll(7)

          This page is part of release 5.10 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

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