Mac Developer Library Developer


This manual page is for Mac OS X version 10.9

If you are running a different version of Mac OS X, view the documentation locally:

  • In Terminal, using the man(1) command

Reading manual pages

Manual pages are intended as a quick reference for people who already understand a technology.

  • To learn how the manual is organized or to learn about command syntax, read the manual page for manpages(5).

  • For more information about this technology, look for other documentation in the Apple Developer Library.

  • For general information about writing shell scripts, read Shell Scripting Primer.

GETCONF(1)                BSD General Commands Manual               GETCONF(1)

     getconf -- retrieve standard configuration variables

     getconf [-v environment] path_var file
     getconf [-v environment] system_var

     The getconf utility prints the value of a POSIX or X/Open path or system configuration variable to the
     standard output.  If the specified variable is undefined, the string ``undefined'' is output.

     The first form of the command, with two mandatory arguments, retrieves file- and file system-specific
     configuration variables using pathconf(2).  The second form, with a single argument, retrieves system
     configuration variables using confstr(3) and sysconf(3), depending on the type of variable.  As an
     extension, the second form can also be used to query static limits from <limits.h>.

     All sysconf(3) and pathconf(2) variables use the same name as the manifest constants defined in the
     relevant standard C-language bindings, including any leading underscore or prefix.  That is to say,
     system_var might be ARG_MAX or _POSIX_VERSION, as opposed to the sysconf(3) names _SC_ARG_MAX or
     _SC_POSIX_VERSION.  Variables retrieved from confstr(3) have the leading `_CS_' stripped off; thus,
     _CS_PATH is queried by a system_var of ``PATH''.

   Programming Environments
     The -v environment option specifies a IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 (``POSIX.1'') programming environment under
     which the values are to be queried.  This option currently does nothing, but may in the future be used
     to select between 32-bit and 64-bit execution environments on platforms which support both.  Specifying
     an environment which is not supported on the current execution platform gives undefined results.

     The standard programming environments are as follows:

           POSIX_V6_ILP32_OFF32   Exactly 32-bit integer, long, pointer, and file offset.  Supported
                                  platforms: None.

           POSIX_V6_ILP32_OFFBIG  Exactly 32-bit integer, long, and pointer; at least 64-bit file offset.
                                  Supported platforms: IA32, PowerPC.

           POSIX_V6_LP64_OFF64    Exactly 32-bit integer; exactly 64-bit long, pointer, and file offset.
                                  Supported platforms: Alpha, SPARC64.

           POSIX_V6_LPBIG_OFFBIG  At least 32-bit integer; at least 64-bit long, pointer, and file offset.
                                  Supported platforms: None.

     The command:


     returns a newline-separated list of environments in which the width of certain fundamental types is no
     greater than the width of the native C type long.  At present, all programming environments supported
     by FreeBSD have this property.  Several of the confstr(3) variables provide information on the neces-sary necessary
     sary compiler and linker flags to use the standard programming environments described above.

     Many of these values are also available through the sysctl(8) mechanism.

     The getconf utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.

     The command:

           getconf PATH

     will display the system default setting for the PATH environment variable.

     The command:

           getconf NAME_MAX /tmp

     will display the maximum length of a filename in the /tmp directory.

     The command:

           getconf -v POSIX_V6_LPBIG_OFFBIG LONG_MAX

     will display the maximum value of the C type long in the POSIX_V6_LPBIG_OFFBIG programming environment,
     if the system supports that environment.

     Use of a system_var or path_var which is completely unrecognized is considered an error, causing a
     diagnostic message to be written to standard error.  One which is known but merely undefined does not
     result in an error indication.  The getconf utility recognizes all of the variables defined for IEEE
     Std 1003.1-2001 (``POSIX.1''), including those which are not currently implemented.

     pathconf(2), confstr(3), sysconf(3), sysctl(8)

     The getconf utility is expected to be compliant with IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 (``POSIX.1'').

     The getconf utility first appeared in FreeBSD 5.0.

     Garrett A. Wollman <>

BSD                           September 18, 2002                           BSD

Reporting Problems

The way to report a problem with this manual page depends on the type of problem:

Content errors
Report errors in the content of this documentation with the feedback links below.
Bug reports
Report bugs in the functionality of the described tool or API through Bug Reporter.
Formatting problems
Report formatting mistakes in the online version of these pages with the feedback links below.