LSEEK(2) System Calls Manual LSEEK(2)

lseekreposition read/write file offset

#include <unistd.h>

lseek(int fildes, off_t offset, int whence);

The () function repositions the offset of the file descriptor fildes to the argument offset, according to the directive whence. The argument fildes must be an open file descriptor. lseek() repositions the file pointer fildes as follows:

The () function allows the file offset to be set beyond the end of the existing end-of-file of the file. If data is later written at this point, subsequent reads of the data in the gap return bytes of zeros (until data is actually written into the gap).

Some devices are incapable of seeking. The value of the pointer associated with such a device is undefined.

A "hole" is defined as a contiguous range of bytes in a file, all having the value of zero, but not all zeros in a file are guaranteed to be represented as holes returned with SEEK_HOLE. File systems are allowed to expose ranges of zeros with SEEK_HOLE, but not required to. Applications can use SEEK_HOLE to optimise their behavior for ranges of zeros, but must not depend on it to find all such ranges in a file. Each file is presented as having a zero-size virtual hole at the very end of the file. The existence of a hole at the end of every data region allows for easy programming and also provides compatibility to the original implementation in Solaris. It also causes the current file size (i.e., end-of-file offset) to be returned to indicate that there are no more holes past the supplied offset. Applications should use (_PC_MIN_HOLE_SIZE) or (_PC_MIN_HOLE_SIZE) to determine if a file system supports SEEK_HOLE. See pathconf(2).

For file systems that do not supply information about holes, the file will be represented as one entire data region.

Upon successful completion, lseek() returns the resulting offset location as measured in bytes from the beginning of the file. Otherwise, a value of -1 is returned and errno is set to indicate the error.

lseek() will fail and the file pointer will remain unchanged if:

is not an open file descriptor.
Whence is not a proper value.
The seek location (calculated from offset and whence) is negative.
For SEEK_DATA, there are no more data regions past the supplied offset. Due to existence of the hole at the end of the file, for SEEK_HOLE this error is only returned when the offset already points to the end-of-file position.
The seek location is too large to be stored in an object of type off_t.
is associated with a pipe, socket, or FIFO.

dup(2), open(2)

This document's use of whence is incorrect English, but is maintained for historical reasons.

The lseek() function conforms to IEEE Std 1003.1-1988 (“POSIX.1”).

April 19, 1994 BSD 4