|CLOSE(2)||Linux Programmer's Manual||CLOSE(2)|
int close(int fd);
If fd is the last file descriptor referring to the underlying open file description (see open(2)), the resources associated with the open file description are freed; if the file descriptor was the last reference to a file which has been removed using unlink(2), the file is deleted.
- fd isn't a valid open file descriptor.
- The close() call was interrupted by a signal; see signal(7).
- An I/O error occurred.
- ENOSPC, EDQUOT
- On NFS, these errors are not normally reported against the first write which exceeds the available storage space, but instead against a subsequent write(2), fsync(2), or close().
See NOTES for a discussion of why close() should not be retried after an error.
Furthermore, consider the following scenario where two threads are performing operations on the same file descriptor:
- One thread is blocked in an I/O system call on the file descriptor. For example, it is trying to write(2) to a pipe that is already full, or trying to read(2) from a stream socket which currently has no available data.
- Another thread closes the file descriptor.
The behavior in this situation varies across systems. On some systems, when the file descriptor is closed, the blocking system call returns immediately with an error.
On Linux (and possibly some other systems), the behavior is different: the blocking I/O system call holds a reference to the underlying open file description, and this reference keeps the description open until the I/O system call completes. (See open(2) for a discussion of open file descriptions.) Thus, the blocking system call in the first thread may successfully complete after the close() in the second thread.
Note, however, that a failure return should be used only for diagnostic purposes (i.e., a warning to the application that there may still be I/O pending or there may have been failed I/O) or remedial purposes (e.g., writing the file once more or creating a backup).
Retrying the close() after a failure return is the wrong thing to do, since this may cause a reused file descriptor from another thread to be closed. This can occur because the Linux kernel always releases the file descriptor early in the close operation, freeing it for reuse; the steps that may return an error, such as flushing data to the filesystem or device, occur only later in the close operation.
Many other implementations similarly always close the file descriptor (except in the case of EBADF, meaning that the file descriptor was invalid) even if they subsequently report an error on return from close(). POSIX.1 is currently silent on this point, but there are plans to mandate this behavior in the next major release of the standard.
A careful programmer who wants to know about I/O errors may precede close() with a call to fsync(2).
The EINTR error is a somewhat special case. Regarding the EINTR error, POSIX.1-2008 says:
This permits the behavior that occurs on Linux and many other implementations, where, as with other errors that may be reported by close(), the file descriptor is guaranteed to be closed. However, it also permits another possibility: that the implementation returns an EINTR error and keeps the file descriptor open. (According to its documentation, HP-UX's close() does this.) The caller must then once more use close() to close the file descriptor, to avoid file descriptor leaks. This divergence in implementation behaviors provides a difficult hurdle for portable applications, since on many implementations, close() must not be called again after an EINTR error, and on at least one, close() must be called again. There are plans to address this conundrum for the next major release of the POSIX.1 standard.