sendfile - transfer data between file descriptors
sendfile() copies data between one file descriptor and another. Because this copying is done within the kernel, sendfile() is more efficient than the combination of read(2) and write(2), which would require transferring data to and from user space.
in_fd should be a file descriptor opened for reading and
out_fd should be a descriptor opened for writing.
offset is not NULL, then it points to a variable holding
the file offset from which sendfile() will start
reading data from
in_fd. When sendfile()
returns, this variable will be set to the offset of the byte following
the last byte that was read. If
offset is not NULL, then
sendfile() does not modify the file offset of
in_fd; otherwise the file offset is adjusted to reflect the
number of bytes read from
offset is NULL, then data will be read from
in_fd starting at the file offset, and the file offset will be
updated by the call.
count is the number of bytes to copy between the file
in_fd argument must correspond to a file which supports
mmap(2)-like operations (i.e., it cannot be a
In Linux kernels before 2.6.33,
out_fd must refer to a
socket. Since Linux 2.6.33 it can be any file. If it is a regular file,
then sendfile() changes the file offset
If the transfer was successful, the number of bytes written to
out_fd is returned. Note that a successful call to
sendfile() may write fewer bytes than requested; the
caller should be prepared to retry the call if there were unsent bytes.
See also NOTES.
On error, -1 is returned, and
errno is set
Nonblocking I/O has been selected using O_NONBLOCK and the write would block.
The input file was not opened for reading or the output file was not opened for writing.
Descriptor is not valid or locked, or an
mmap(2)-like operation is not available for
count is negative.
out_fd has the O_APPEND flag set. This is
not currently supported by sendfile().
Unspecified error while reading from
Insufficient memory to read from
count is too large, the operation would result in exceeding
the maximum size of either the input file or the output file.
offset is not NULL but the input file is not seekable.
sendfile() first appeared in Linux 2.2. The include
<sys/sendfile.h> is present since glibc 2.1.
Not specified in POSIX.1-2001, nor in other standards.
Other UNIX systems implement sendfile() with different semantics and prototypes. It should not be used in portable programs.
sendfile() will transfer at most 0x7ffff000 (2,147,479,552) bytes, returning the number of bytes actually transferred. (This is true on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.)
If you plan to use sendfile() for sending files to a TCP socket, but need to send some header data in front of the file contents, you will find it useful to employ the TCP_CORK option, described in tcp(7), to minimize the number of packets and to tune performance.
In Linux 2.4 and earlier,
out_fd could also refer to a
regular file; this possibility went away in the Linux 2.6.x kernel
series, but was restored in Linux 2.6.33.
The original Linux sendfile() system call was not
designed to handle large file offsets. Consequently, Linux 2.4 added
sendfile64(), with a wider type for the
argument. The glibc sendfile() wrapper function
transparently deals with the kernel differences.
out_fd refers to a socket or pipe with zero-copy support,
callers must ensure the transferred portions of the file referred to by
in_fd remain unmodified until the reader on the other end of
out_fd has consumed the transferred data.
The Linux-specific splice(2) call supports transferring data between arbitrary file descriptors provided one (or both) of them is a pipe.
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