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POPEN(3)                 BSD Library Functions Manual                 POPEN(3)

NAME
     pclose, popen -- process I/O

LIBRARY
     Standard C Library (libc, -lc)

SYNOPSIS
     #include <stdio.h>

     FILE *
     popen(const char *command, const char *mode);

     int
     pclose(FILE *stream);

DESCRIPTION
     The popen() function ``opens'' a process by creating a bidirectional pipe, forking, and invoking the
     shell.  Any streams opened by previous popen() calls in the parent process are closed in the new child
     process.  Historically, popen() was implemented with a unidirectional pipe; hence, many implementations
     of popen() only allow the mode argument to specify reading or writing, not both.  Because popen() is
     now implemented using a bidirectional pipe, the mode argument may request a bidirectional data flow.
     The mode argument is a pointer to a null-terminated string which must be `r' for reading, `w' for writ-ing, writing,
     ing, or `r+' for reading and writing.

     The command argument is a pointer to a null-terminated string containing a shell command line.  This
     command is passed to /bin/sh, using the -c flag; interpretation, if any, is performed by the shell.

     The return value from popen() is a normal standard I/O stream in all respects, save that it must be
     closed with pclose() rather than fclose().  Writing to such a stream writes to the standard input of
     the command; the command's standard output is the same as that of the process that called popen(),
     unless this is altered by the command itself.  Conversely, reading from a ``popened'' stream reads the
     command's standard output, and the command's standard input is the same as that of the process that
     called popen().

     Note that output popen() streams are fully buffered, by default.

     The pclose() function waits for the associated process to terminate; it returns the exit status of the
     command, as returned by wait4(2).

RETURN VALUES
     The popen() function returns NULL if the fork(2) or pipe(2) calls fail, or if it cannot allocate mem-ory. memory.
     ory.

     The pclose() function returns -1 if stream is not associated with a ``popened'' command, if stream
     already ``pclosed'', or if wait4(2) returns an error.

ERRORS
     The popen() function does not reliably set errno.

SEE ALSO
     sh(1), fork(2), pipe(2), wait4(2), fclose(3), fflush(3), fopen(3), stdio(3), system(3)

BUGS
     Since the standard input of a command opened for reading shares its seek offset with the process that
     called popen(), if the original process has done a buffered read, the command's input position may not
     be as expected.  Similarly, the output from a command opened for writing may become intermingled with
     that of the original process.  The latter can be avoided by calling fflush(3) before popen().

     Failure to execute the shell is indistinguishable from the shell's failure to execute command, or an
     immediate exit of the command.  The only hint is an exit status of 127.

     The popen() function always calls sh(1), never calls csh(1).

HISTORY
     A popen() and a pclose() function appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX.

     Bidirectional functionality was added in FreeBSD 2.2.6.

BSD                               May 3, 1995                              BSD

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