This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux
implementation of this interface may differ (consult the corresponding Linux
manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may not be
implemented on Linux.
dirfd — extract the file descriptor used by a DIR stream
int dirfd(DIR *dirp);
The dirfd() function shall return a file descriptor referring to the same
directory as the dirp argument. This file descriptor shall be closed by
a call to closedir(). If any attempt is made to close the file
descriptor, or to modify the state of the associated description, other than
by means of closedir(), readdir(), readdir_r(),
rewinddir(), or seekdir(), the behavior is undefined.
Upon successful completion, the dirfd() function shall return an integer
which contains a file descriptor for the stream pointed to by dirp.
Otherwise, it shall return −1 and may set errno to indicate the
The dirfd() function may fail if:
- The dirp argument does not refer to a valid directory stream.
- The implementation does not support the association of a file descriptor
with a directory.
The following sections are informative.
The dirfd() function is intended to be a mechanism by which an
application may obtain a file descriptor to use for the fchdir()
This interface was introduced because the Base Definitions volume of
POSIX.1‐2008 does not make public the DIR data structure.
Applications tend to use the fchdir() function on the file descriptor
returned by this interface, and this has proven useful for security reasons;
in particular, it is a better technique than others where directory names
The description uses the term ``a file descriptor'' rather than
``the file descriptor''. The implication intended is that an implementation
that does not use an fd for opendir() could still
open() the directory to implement the dirfd() function. Such a
descriptor must be closed later during a call to closedir().
An implementation that does not support file descriptors referring
to directories may fail with [ENOTSUP].
If it is necessary to allocate an fd to be returned by
dirfd(), it should be done at the time of a call to
closedir(), fchdir(), fdopendir(),
fileno(), open(), readdir()
The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008,
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form from IEEE
Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition, Standard for Information Technology -- Portable
Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base Specifications Issue
7, Copyright (C) 2013 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. (This is POSIX.1-2008 with the 2013
Technical Corrigendum 1 applied.) In the event of any discrepancy between this
version and the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard, the original IEEE
and The Open Group Standard is the referee document. The original Standard can
be obtained online at http://www.unix.org/online.html .
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