Provided by: manpages-dev_5.05-1_all bug


       getitimer, setitimer - get or set value of an interval timer


       #include <sys/time.h>

       int getitimer(int which, struct itimerval *curr_value);
       int setitimer(int which, const struct itimerval *new_value,
                     struct itimerval *old_value);


       These  system  calls  provide  access  to  interval timers, that is, timers that initially
       expire at some point in the future, and (optionally)  at  regular  intervals  after  that.
       When  a  timer  expires,  a  signal is generated for the calling process, and the timer is
       reset to the specified interval (if the interval is nonzero).

       Three types of timers—specified via the which argument—are provided, each of which  counts
       against a different clock and generates a different signal on timer expiration:

       ITIMER_REAL    This  timer  counts  down  in  real  (i.e.,  wall  clock)  time.   At  each
                      expiration, a SIGALRM signal is generated.

       ITIMER_VIRTUAL This timer counts down against the  user-mode  CPU  time  consumed  by  the
                      process.  (The measurement includes CPU time consumed by all threads in the
                      process.)  At each expiration, a SIGVTALRM signal is generated.

       ITIMER_PROF    This timer counts down against the total (i.e., both user and  system)  CPU
                      time  consumed by the process.  (The measurement includes CPU time consumed
                      by all threads in the process.)  At each expiration, a  SIGPROF  signal  is

                      In  conjunction with ITIMER_VIRTUAL, this timer can be used to profile user
                      and system CPU time consumed by the process.

       A process has only one of each of the three types of timers.

       Timer values are defined by the following structures:

           struct itimerval {
               struct timeval it_interval; /* Interval for periodic timer */
               struct timeval it_value;    /* Time until next expiration */

           struct timeval {
               time_t      tv_sec;         /* seconds */
               suseconds_t tv_usec;        /* microseconds */

       The function getitimer() places the current value of the timer specified by which  in  the
       buffer pointed to by curr_value.

       The  it_value  substructure  is populated with the amount of time remaining until the next
       expiration of the specified timer.  This value changes as the timer counts down, and  will
       be reset to it_interval when the timer expires.  If both fields of it_value are zero, then
       this timer is currently disarmed (inactive).

       The it_interval substructure is populated with the timer  interval.   If  both  fields  of
       it_interval are zero, then this is a single-shot timer (i.e., it expires just once).

       The  function  setitimer()  arms  or  disarms the timer specified by which, by setting the
       timer to the value specified by new_value.  If old_value is non-NULL, the buffer it points
       to  is  used to return the previous value of the timer (i.e., the same information that is
       returned by getitimer()).

       If either field in new_value.it_value is nonzero, then the timer  is  armed  to  initially
       expire  at  the  specified  time.  If both fields in new_value.it_value are zero, then the
       timer is disarmed.

       The new_value.it_interval field specifies the new interval for the timer; if both  of  its
       subfields are zero, the timer is single-shot.


       On success, zero is returned.  On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.


       EFAULT new_value, old_value, or curr_value is not valid a pointer.

       EINVAL which  is  not  one of ITIMER_REAL, ITIMER_VIRTUAL, or ITIMER_PROF; or (since Linux
              2.6.22) one of the tv_usec fields in the structure pointed to by new_value contains
              a value outside the range 0 to 999999.


       POSIX.1-2001,  SVr4,  4.4BSD  (this  call  first  appeared in 4.2BSD).  POSIX.1-2008 marks
       getitimer() and setitimer() obsolete,  recommending  the  use  of  the  POSIX  timers  API
       (timer_gettime(2), timer_settime(2), etc.) instead.


       Timers  will  never  expire  before  the  requested time, but may expire some (short) time
       afterward, which depends on the system timer  resolution  and  on  the  system  load;  see
       time(7).   (But see BUGS below.)  If the timer expires while the process is active (always
       true for ITIMER_VIRTUAL), the signal will be delivered immediately when generated.

       A child created via fork(2) does not  inherit  its  parent's  interval  timers.   Interval
       timers are preserved across an execve(2).

       POSIX.1  leaves  the  interaction  between  setitimer() and the three interfaces alarm(2),
       sleep(3), and usleep(3) unspecified.

       The standards are silent on the meaning of the call:

           setitimer(which, NULL, &old_value);

       Many systems (Solaris, the BSDs, and perhaps others) treat this as equivalent to:

           getitimer(which, &old_value);

       In Linux, this is treated as being equivalent to a call in which the new_value fields  are
       zero;  that is, the timer is disabled.  Don't use this Linux misfeature: it is nonportable
       and unnecessary.


       The generation and delivery of a signal are distinct, and only one instance of each of the
       signals  listed  above  may  be  pending  for  a  process.   Under  very heavy loading, an
       ITIMER_REAL timer may expire before  the  signal  from  a  previous  expiration  has  been
       delivered.  The second signal in such an event will be lost.

       On  Linux kernels before 2.6.16, timer values are represented in jiffies.  If a request is
       made set a timer with a value  whose  jiffies  representation  exceeds  MAX_SEC_IN_JIFFIES
       (defined in include/linux/jiffies.h), then the timer is silently truncated to this ceiling
       value.  On Linux/i386 (where, since Linux 2.6.13, the default  jiffy  is  0.004  seconds),
       this  means  that  the ceiling value for a timer is approximately 99.42 days.  Since Linux
       2.6.16, the kernel uses a different internal representation for times, and this ceiling is

       On  certain systems (including i386), Linux kernels before version 2.6.12 have a bug which
       will produce premature timer expirations of up to  one  jiffy  under  some  circumstances.
       This bug is fixed in kernel 2.6.12.

       POSIX.1-2001  says  that  setitimer()  should fail if a tv_usec value is specified that is
       outside of the range 0 to 999999.  However, in kernels up to and including  2.6.21,  Linux
       does  not  give an error, but instead silently adjusts the corresponding seconds value for
       the timer.  From kernel 2.6.22 onward, this nonconformance has been repaired: an  improper
       tv_usec value results in an EINVAL error.


       gettimeofday(2), sigaction(2), signal(2), timer_create(2), timerfd_create(2), time(7)


       This  page  is  part of release 5.05 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