LSEEK(2) Linux Programmer's Manual LSEEK(2)
lseek - reposition read/write file offset
off_t lseek(int fd, off_t offset, int whence);
lseek() repositions the file offset of the open file description asso-
ciated with the file descriptor fd to the argument offset according to
the directive whence as follows:
The file offset is set to offset bytes.
The file offset is set to its current location plus offset
The file offset is set to the size of the file plus offset
lseek() allows the file offset to be set beyond the end of the file
(but this does not change the size of the file). If data is later
written at this point, subsequent reads of the data in the gap (a
"hole") return null bytes ('\0') until data is actually written into
Seeking file data and holes
Since version 3.1, Linux supports the following additional values for
Adjust the file offset to the next location in the file greater
than or equal to offset containing data. If offset points to
data, then the file offset is set to offset.
Adjust the file offset to the next hole in the file greater than
or equal to offset. If offset points into the middle of a hole,
then the file offset is set to offset. If there is no hole past
offset, then the file offset is adjusted to the end of the file
(i.e., there is an implicit hole at the end of any file).
In both of the above cases, lseek() fails if offset points past the end
of the file.
These operations allow applications to map holes in a sparsely allo-
cated file. This can be useful for applications such as file backup
tools, which can save space when creating backups and preserve holes,
if they have a mechanism for discovering holes.
For the purposes of these operations, a hole is a sequence of zeros
that (normally) has not been allocated in the underlying file storage.
However, a filesystem is not obliged to report holes, so these opera-
tions are not a guaranteed mechanism for mapping the storage space
actually allocated to a file. (Furthermore, a sequence of zeros that
actually has been written to the underlying storage may not be reported
as a hole.) In the simplest implementation, a filesystem can support
the operations by making SEEK_HOLE always return the offset of the end
of the file, and making SEEK_DATA always return offset (i.e., even if
the location referred to by offset is a hole, it can be considered to
consist of data that is a sequence of zeros).
The _GNU_SOURCE feature test macro must be defined in order to obtain
the definitions of SEEK_DATA and SEEK_HOLE from <unistd.h>.
The SEEK_HOLE and SEEK_DATA operations are supported for the following
* Btrfs (since Linux 3.1)
* OCFS (since Linux 3.2)
* XFS (since Linux 3.5)
* ext4 (since Linux 3.8)
* tmpfs(5) (since Linux 3.8)
* NFS (since Linux 3.18)
* FUSE (since Linux 4.5)
Upon successful completion, lseek() returns the resulting offset loca-
tion as measured in bytes from the beginning of the file. On error,
the value (off_t) -1 is returned and errno is set to indicate the
EBADF fd is not an open file descriptor.
EINVAL whence is not valid. Or: the resulting file offset would be
negative, or beyond the end of a seekable device.
ENXIO whence is SEEK_DATA or SEEK_HOLE, and the file offset is beyond
the end of the file.
The resulting file offset cannot be represented in an off_t.
ESPIPE fd is associated with a pipe, socket, or FIFO.
POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008, SVr4, 4.3BSD.
SEEK_DATA and SEEK_HOLE are nonstandard extensions also present in
Solaris, FreeBSD, and DragonFly BSD; they are proposed for inclusion in
the next POSIX revision (Issue 8).
See open(2) for a discussion of the relationship between file descrip-
tors, open file descriptions, and files.
If the O_APPEND file status flag is set on the open file description,
then a write(2) always moves the file offset to the end of the file,
regardless of the use of lseek().
The off_t data type is a signed integer data type specified by POSIX.1.
Some devices are incapable of seeking and POSIX does not specify which
devices must support lseek().
On Linux, using lseek() on a terminal device fails with the error
dup(2), fallocate(2), fork(2), open(2), fseek(3), lseek64(3),
This page is part of release 4.15 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
Linux 2017-09-15 LSEEK(2)
Man Pages Copyright Respective Owners. Site Copyright (C) 1994 - 2022
All Rights Reserved.