FreeBSD man pages : select (2)
SELECT(2) FreeBSD System Calls Manual SELECT(2)
select - synchronous I/O multiplexing
Standard C Library (libc, -lc)
select(int nfds, fd_set *readfds, fd_set *writefds, fd_set *exceptfds,
struct timeval *timeout);
Select() examines the I/O descriptor sets whose addresses are passed in
readfds, writefds, and exceptfds to see if some of their descriptors are
ready for reading, are ready for writing, or have an exceptional condi-
tion pending, respectively. The only exceptional condition detectable is
out-of-band data received on a socket. The first nfds descriptors are
checked in each set; i.e., the descriptors from 0 through nfds-1 in the
descriptor sets are examined. On return, select() replaces the given
descriptor sets with subsets consisting of those descriptors that are
ready for the requested operation. Select() returns the total number of
ready descriptors in all the sets.
The descriptor sets are stored as bit fields in arrays of integers. The
following macros are provided for manipulating such descriptor sets:
FD_ZERO(&fdset) initializes a descriptor set fdset to the null set.
FD_SET(fd, &fdset) includes a particular descriptor fd in fdset.
FD_CLR(fd, &fdset) removes fd from fdset. FD_ISSET(fd, &fdset) is non-
zero if fd is a member of fdset, zero otherwise. The behavior of these
macros is undefined if a descriptor value is less than zero or greater
than or equal to FD_SETSIZE, which is normally at least equal to the max-
imum number of descriptors supported by the system.
If timeout is a non-nil pointer, it specifies the maximum interval to
wait for the selection to complete. System activity can lengthen the
interval by an indeterminate amount.
If timeout is a nil pointer, the select blocks indefinitely.
To effect a poll, the timeout argument should be non-nil, pointing to a
zero-valued timeval structure.
Any of readfds, writefds, and exceptfds may be given as nil pointers if
no descriptors are of interest.
Select() returns the number of ready descriptors that are contained in
the descriptor sets, or -1 if an error occurred. If the time limit
expires, select() returns 0. If select() returns with an error, includ-
ing one due to an interrupted call, the descriptor sets will be unmodi-
An error return from select() indicates:
[EBADF] One of the descriptor sets specified an invalid
[EINTR] A signal was delivered before the time limit expired
and before any of the selected events occurred.
[EINVAL] The specified time limit is invalid. One of its com-
ponents is negative or too large.
[EINVAL] nfds was invalid.
accept(2), connect(2), getdtablesize(2), gettimeofday(2), read(2),
recv(2), send(2), write(2), clocks(7)
The default size of FD_SETSIZE is currently 1024. In order to accommo-
date programs which might potentially use a larger number of open files
with select(), it is possible to increase this size by having the program
define FD_SETSIZE before the inclusion of any header which includes
If nfds is greater than the number of open files, select() is not guaran-
teed to examine the unused file descriptors. For historical reasons,
select() will always examine the first 256 descriptors.
Version 2 of the Single UNIX Specification (``SUSv2'') allows systems to
modify the original timeout in place. Thus, it is unwise to assume that
the timeout value will be unmodified by the select() call.
The select() function call appeared in 4.2BSD.
FreeBSD 4.8 March 25, 1994 FreeBSD 4.8