read - read from a file descriptor


#include <unistd.h> ssize_t read(int fd, void *buf, size_t count);


read() attempts to read up to count bytes from file descriptor fd into the buffer starting at buf.

If count is zero, read() returns zero and has no other results. If count is greater than SSIZE_MAX, the result is unspecified.


On success, the number of bytes read is returned (zero indicates end of file), and the file position is advanced by this number. It is not an error if this number is smaller than the number of bytes requested; this may happen for example because fewer bytes are actually available right now (maybe because we were close to end-of-file, or because we are reading from a pipe, or from a terminal), or because read(2) was interrupted by a signal. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately. In this case it is left unspecified whether the file position (if any) changes.


The call was interrupted by a signal before any data was read.
Non-blocking I/O has been selected using O_NONBLOCK and no data was immediately available for reading.
I/O error. This will happen for example when the process is in a background process group, tries to read from its controlling tty, and either it is ignoring or blocking SIGTTIN or its process group is orphaned. It may also occur when there is a low-level I/O error while reading from a disk or tape.
fd refers to a directory.
fd is not a valid file descriptor or is not open for reading.
fd is attached to an object which is unsuitable for reading.
buf is outside your accessible address space.

Other errors may occur, depending on the object connected to fd. POSIX allows a read that is interrupted after reading some data to return -1 (with errno set to EINTR) or to return the number of bytes already read.




On NFS file systems, reading small amounts of data will only update the time stamp the first time, subsequent calls may not do so. This is caused by client side attribute caching, because most if not all NFS clients leave atime updates to the server and client side reads satisfied from the client's cache will not cause atime updates on the server as there are no server side reads. UNIX semantics can be obtained by disabling client side attribute caching, but in most situations this will substantially increase server load and decrease performance.


close(2), fcntl(2), ioctl(2), lseek(2), readdir(2), readlink(2), select(2), write(2), fread(3)

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