Chapter 5: File I/O: Further Details

In this chapter, we extend the discussion of file I/O that we started in the previous chapter.

In continuing the discussion of the open() system call, we explain the concept of atomicity--the notion that the actions performed by a system call are executed as a single uninterruptible step. This is a necessary requirement for the correct operation of many system calls.

We introduce another file-related system call, the multipurpose fcntl(), and show one of its uses: fetching and setting open file status flags.

Next, we look at the kernel data structures used to represent file descriptors and open files. Understanding the relationship between these structures clarifies some of the subtleties of file I/O discussed in subsequent chapters. Building on this model, we then explain how to duplicate file descriptors.

We then consider some system calls that provide extended read and write functionality. These system calls allow us to perform I/O at a specific location in a file without changing the current file offset, and to transfer data to and from multiple buffers in a program.

We briefly introduce the concept of nonblocking I/O, and describe some extensions provided to support I/O on very large files.

Since temporary files are used by many system programs, we’ll also look at some library functions that allow us to create and use temporary files with randomly generated unique names.

5 File I/O: Further Details
5.1 Atomicity and Race Conditions
5.2 File Control Operations: fcntl()
5.3 Open File Status Flags
5.4 Relationship Between File Descriptors and Open Files
5.5 Duplicating File Descriptors
5.6 File I/O at a Specified Offset: pread() and pwrite()
5.7 Scatter-gather I/O: readv() and writev()
5.8 Truncating a File: truncate() and ftruncate()
5.9 Nonblocking I/O
5.10 I/O on Large Files
5.11 The /dev/fd Directory
5.12 Creating Temporary Files
5.13 Summary
5.14 Exercises

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