BRK(2) System Calls Manual BRK(2)

brk, sbrkchange data segment size

#include <unistd.h>

void *
brk(const void *addr);

void *
sbrk(int incr);

The brk and sbrk functions are historical curiosities left over from earlier days before the advent of virtual memory management.

The () function sets the break or lowest address of a process's data segment (uninitialized data) to addr (immediately above bss). Data addressing is restricted between addr and the lowest stack pointer to the stack segment. Memory is allocated by brk in page size pieces; if addr is not evenly divisible by the system page size, it is increased to the next page boundary.

The current value of the program break is reliably returned by “sbrk(0)” (see also end(3)). The getrlimit(2) system call may be used to determine the maximum permissible size of the segment; it will not be possible to set the break beyond the value returned from a call to getrlimit, e.g. “qetext + rlp→rlim_max.” (see end(3) for the definition of ).

Brk returns a pointer to the new end of memory if successful; otherwise -1 with errno set to indicate why the allocation failed. The sbrk function returns a pointer to the base of the new storage if successful; otherwise -1 with errno set to indicate why the allocation failed.

Sbrk will fail and no additional memory will be allocated if one of the following are true:

The limit, as set by setrlimit(2), was exceeded.
The maximum possible size of a data segment (compiled into the system) was exceeded.
Insufficient space existed in the swap area to support the expansion.

execve(2), getrlimit(2), malloc(3), mmap(2), end(3)

Setting the break may fail due to a temporary lack of swap space. It is not possible to distinguish this from a failure caused by exceeding the maximum size of the data segment without consulting getrlimit.

A brk() function call appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX.

December 11, 1993 BSD 4