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DUP(2) System Calls Manual DUP(2)


dup, dup2duplicate an existing file descriptor


Standard C Library (libc, -lc)


#include <unistd.h>

dup(int oldd);

dup2(int oldd, int newd);


The () system call duplicates an existing object descriptor and returns its value to the calling process (newd = dup(oldd)). The argument oldd is a small non-negative integer index in the per-process descriptor table. The new descriptor returned by the call is the lowest numbered descriptor currently not in use by the process.

The object referenced by the descriptor does not distinguish between oldd and newd in any way. Thus if newd and oldd are duplicate references to an open file, read(2), write(2) and lseek(2) calls all move a single pointer into the file, and append mode, non-blocking I/O and asynchronous I/O options are shared between the references. If a separate pointer into the file is desired, a different object reference to the file must be obtained by issuing an additional open(2) system call. The close-on-exec flag on the new file descriptor is unset.

In (), the value of the new descriptor newd is specified. If this descriptor is already in use and olddnewd, the descriptor is first deallocated as if the close(2) system call had been used. If oldd is not a valid descriptor, then newd is not closed. If oldd == newd and oldd is a valid descriptor, then dup2() is successful, and does nothing.


These calls return the new file descriptor if successful; otherwise the value -1 is returned and the external variable errno is set to indicate the cause of the error.


The dup() system call fails if:

The oldd argument is not a valid active descriptor
Too many descriptors are active.

The dup2() system call fails if:

The oldd argument is not a valid active descriptor or the newd argument is negative or exceeds the maximum allowable descriptor number


accept(2), close(2), fcntl(2), getdtablesize(2), open(2), pipe(2), socket(2), socketpair(2), dup3(3)


The dup() and dup2() system calls are expected to conform to IEEE Std 1003.1-1990 (“POSIX.1”).


The dup() function appeared in Version 3 AT&T UNIX. The dup2() function appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX.

December 1, 2017 Debian