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       epoll - I/O event notification facility


       #include <sys/epoll.h>


       epoll  is  a  variant  of poll(2) that can be used either as an edge-triggered or a level-
       triggered interface and scales well to large numbers of  watched  file  descriptors.   The
       following system calls are provided to create and manage an epoll instance:

       *  An epoll instance created by epoll_create(2), which returns a file descriptor referring
          to the epoll instance.  (The more recent epoll_create1(2) extends the functionality  of

       *  Interest  in  particular file descriptors is then registered via epoll_ctl(2).  The set
          of file descriptors currently registered on an epoll instance is  sometimes  called  an
          epoll set.

       *  Finally, the actual wait is started by epoll_wait(2).

   Level-Triggered and Edge-Triggered
       The  epoll  event distribution interface is able to behave both as edge-triggered (ET) and
       as level-triggered (LT).  The difference between the two mechanisms can  be  described  as
       follows.  Suppose that this scenario happens:

       1. The  file descriptor that represents the read side of a pipe (rfd) is registered on the
          epoll instance.

       2. A pipe writer writes 2 kB of data on the write side of the pipe.

       3. A call to epoll_wait(2) is done that will return rfd as a ready file descriptor.

       4. The pipe reader reads 1 kB of data from rfd.

       5. A call to epoll_wait(2) is done.

       If the rfd file descriptor has been added to the epoll interface using the EPOLLET  (edge-
       triggered)  flag,  the call to epoll_wait(2) done in step 5 will probably hang despite the
       available data still present in the file input buffer; meanwhile the remote peer might  be
       expecting a response based on the data it already sent.  The reason for this is that edge-
       triggered mode only delivers events when changes occur on the monitored  file  descriptor.
       So, in step 5 the caller might end up waiting for some data that is already present inside
       the input buffer.  In the above example, an event on rfd will be generated because of  the
       write  done  in 2 and the event is consumed in 3.  Since the read operation done in 4 does
       not consume the whole buffer data, the call to epoll_wait(2) done in step  5  might  block

       An  application  that  employs the EPOLLET flag should use nonblocking file descriptors to
       avoid having a blocking read or write  starve  a  task  that  is  handling  multiple  file
       descriptors.   The  suggested way to use epoll as an edge-triggered (EPOLLET) interface is
       as follows:

              i   with nonblocking file descriptors; and

              ii  by waiting for an event only after read(2) or write(2) return EAGAIN.

       By contrast, when used as a level-triggered interface (the default, when  EPOLLET  is  not
       specified),  epoll is simply a faster poll(2), and can be used wherever the latter is used
       since it shares the same semantics.

       Since even with edge-triggered epoll, multiple events can be  generated  upon  receipt  of
       multiple  chunks  of  data, the caller has the option to specify the EPOLLONESHOT flag, to
       tell epoll to disable the associated file descriptor after the receipt of  an  event  with
       epoll_wait(2).  When the EPOLLONESHOT flag is specified, it is the caller's responsibility
       to rearm the file descriptor using epoll_ctl(2) with EPOLL_CTL_MOD.

   /proc interfaces
       The following interfaces can be used to limit the amount  of  kernel  memory  consumed  by

       /proc/sys/fs/epoll/max_user_watches (since Linux 2.6.28)
              This  specifies  a  limit  on  the total number of file descriptors that a user can
              register across all epoll instances on the system.  The limit is per real user  ID.
              Each  registered  file  descriptor  costs  roughly 90 bytes on a 32-bit kernel, and
              roughly  160  bytes  on  a  64-bit  kernel.   Currently,  the  default  value   for
              max_user_watches  is  1/25  (4%)  of  the  available  low  memory,  divided  by the
              registration cost in bytes.

   Example for Suggested Usage
       While the usage of epoll when employed as a level-triggered interface does have  the  same
       semantics as poll(2), the edge-triggered usage requires more clarification to avoid stalls
       in the application event loop.  In this example, listener is a nonblocking socket on which
       listen(2)  has  been  called.  The function do_use_fd() uses the new ready file descriptor
       until EAGAIN is returned by either read(2) or write(2).   An  event-driven  state  machine
       application  should, after having received EAGAIN, record its current state so that at the
       next call to do_use_fd() it will continue to read(2) or write(2)  from  where  it  stopped

           #define MAX_EVENTS 10
           struct epoll_event ev, events[MAX_EVENTS];
           int listen_sock, conn_sock, nfds, epollfd;

           /* Set up listening socket, 'listen_sock' (socket(),
              bind(), listen()) */

           epollfd = epoll_create(10);
           if (epollfd == -1) {

  = listen_sock;
           if (epoll_ctl(epollfd, EPOLL_CTL_ADD, listen_sock, &ev) == -1) {
               perror("epoll_ctl: listen_sock");

           for (;;) {
               nfds = epoll_wait(epollfd, events, MAX_EVENTS, -1);
               if (nfds == -1) {

               for (n = 0; n < nfds; ++n) {
                   if (events[n].data.fd == listen_sock) {
                       conn_sock = accept(listen_sock,
                                       (struct sockaddr *) &local, &addrlen);
                       if (conn_sock == -1) {
              = EPOLLIN | EPOLLET;
              = conn_sock;
                       if (epoll_ctl(epollfd, EPOLL_CTL_ADD, conn_sock,
                                   &ev) == -1) {
                           perror("epoll_ctl: conn_sock");
                   } else {

       When  used  as an edge-triggered interface, for performance reasons, it is possible to add
       the file  descriptor  inside  the  epoll  interface  (EPOLL_CTL_ADD)  once  by  specifying
       (EPOLLIN|EPOLLOUT).   This  allows you to avoid continuously switching between EPOLLIN and
       EPOLLOUT calling epoll_ctl(2) with EPOLL_CTL_MOD.

   Questions and Answers
       Q0  What is the key used to distinguish the file descriptors registered in an epoll set?

       A0  The key is the combination of the file descriptor number and the open file description
           (also  known as an "open file handle", the kernel's internal representation of an open

       Q1  What happens if you register the same file descriptor on an epoll instance twice?

       A1  You will probably get EEXIST.  However, it is possible to  add  a  duplicate  (dup(2),
           dup2(2),  fcntl(2)  F_DUPFD)  descriptor  to  the  same epoll instance.  This can be a
           useful  technique  for  filtering  events,  if  the  duplicate  file  descriptors  are
           registered with different events masks.

       Q2  Can two epoll instances wait for the same file descriptor?  If so, are events reported
           to both epoll file descriptors?

       A2  Yes, and events would be reported to both.  However, careful programming may be needed
           to do this correctly.

       Q3  Is the epoll file descriptor itself poll/epoll/selectable?

       A3  Yes.   If  an  epoll file descriptor has events waiting then it will indicate as being

       Q4  What happens if one attempts to put  an  epoll  file  descriptor  into  its  own  file
           descriptor set?

       A4  The  epoll_ctl(2)  call  will  fail  (EINVAL).   However,  you  can  add an epoll file
           descriptor inside another epoll file descriptor set.

       Q5  Can I send an epoll file descriptor over a UNIX domain socket to another process?

       A5  Yes, but it does not make sense to do this, since the receiving process would not have
           copies of the file descriptors in the epoll set.

       Q6  Will  closing  a  file  descriptor  cause  it  to  be  removed  from  all  epoll  sets

       A6  Yes, but be aware of the following point.  A file descriptor is a reference to an open
           file  description  (see  open(2)).   Whenever  a  descriptor is duplicated via dup(2),
           dup2(2), fcntl(2) F_DUPFD, or fork(2), a new file descriptor  referring  to  the  same
           open  file  description is created.  An open file description continues to exist until
           all file descriptors referring to it have been closed.  A file descriptor  is  removed
           from an epoll set only after all the file descriptors referring to the underlying open
           file description have been closed (or before if the descriptor is  explicitly  removed
           using  epoll_ctl(2) EPOLL_CTL_DEL).  This means that even after a file descriptor that
           is part of an epoll set has  been  closed,  events  may  be  reported  for  that  file
           descriptor if other file descriptors referring to the same underlying file description
           remain open.

       Q7  If more than one event occurs  between  epoll_wait(2)  calls,  are  they  combined  or
           reported separately?

       A7  They will be combined.

       Q8  Does  an  operation  on  a  file  descriptor  affect the already collected but not yet
           reported events?

       A8  You can do two operations on an existing file descriptor.  Remove would be meaningless
           for this case.  Modify will reread available I/O.

       Q9  Do  I  need  to  continuously read/write a file descriptor until EAGAIN when using the
           EPOLLET flag (edge-triggered behavior) ?

       A9  Receiving an event from epoll_wait(2) should suggest to you that such file  descriptor
           is  ready  for the requested I/O operation.  You must consider it ready until the next
           (nonblocking) read/write yields EAGAIN.  When and how you will use the file descriptor
           is entirely up to you.

           For  packet/token-oriented  files (e.g., datagram socket, terminal in canonical mode),
           the only way to detect the  end  of  the  read/write  I/O  space  is  to  continue  to
           read/write until EAGAIN.

           For  stream-oriented  files  (e.g., pipe, FIFO, stream socket), the condition that the
           read/write I/O space is exhausted can also be detected by checking the amount of  data
           read  from  / written to the target file descriptor.  For example, if you call read(2)
           by asking to read a certain amount of data and  read(2)  returns  a  lower  number  of
           bytes, you can be sure of having exhausted the read I/O space for the file descriptor.
           The same is true when writing using write(2).  (Avoid this  latter  technique  if  you
           cannot guarantee that the monitored file descriptor always refers to a stream-oriented

   Possible Pitfalls and Ways to Avoid Them
       o Starvation (edge-triggered)

       If there is a large amount of I/O space, it is possible that by trying  to  drain  it  the
       other  files  will not get processed causing starvation.  (This problem is not specific to

       The solution is to maintain a ready list and mark the file  descriptor  as  ready  in  its
       associated  data  structure, thereby allowing the application to remember which files need
       to be processed but still round robin amongst all the ready  files.   This  also  supports
       ignoring subsequent events you receive for file descriptors that are already ready.

       o If using an event cache...

       If  you  use an event cache or store all the file descriptors returned from epoll_wait(2),
       then make sure to provide a way to  mark  its  closure  dynamically  (i.e.,  caused  by  a
       previous  event's  processing).  Suppose you receive 100 events from epoll_wait(2), and in
       event #47 a condition causes event #13 to be closed.  If  you  remove  the  structure  and
       close(2)  the  file  descriptor for event #13, then your event cache might still say there
       are events waiting for that file descriptor causing confusion.

       One  solution  for   this   is   to   call,   during   the   processing   of   event   47,
       epoll_ctl(EPOLL_CTL_DEL)  to  delete  file  descriptor  13  and  close(2),  then  mark its
       associated data structure as removed and link it to a cleanup list.  If you  find  another
       event  for  file  descriptor  13  in  your  batch  processing,  you will discover the file
       descriptor had been previously removed and there will be no confusion.


       The epoll API was introduced in Linux kernel  2.5.44.   Support  was  added  to  glibc  in
       version 2.3.2.


       The  epoll  API  is  Linux-specific.   Some  other systems provide similar mechanisms, for
       example, FreeBSD has kqueue, and Solaris has /dev/poll.


       epoll_create(2), epoll_create1(2), epoll_ctl(2), epoll_wait(2)


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