GETCWD(3) Linux Programmer's Manual GETCWD(3)
getcwd, getwd, get_current_dir_name - get current working directory
char *getcwd(char *buf, size_t size);
char *getwd(char *buf);
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
Since glibc 2.12:
(_XOPEN_SOURCE >= 500) && ! (_POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200809L)
|| /* Glibc since 2.19: */ _DEFAULT_SOURCE
|| /* Glibc versions <= 2.19: */ _BSD_SOURCE
Before glibc 2.12:
_BSD_SOURCE || _XOPEN_SOURCE >= 500
These functions return a null-terminated string containing an absolute
pathname that is the current working directory of the calling process.
The pathname is returned as the function result and via the argument
buf, if present.
If the current directory is not below the root directory of the current
process (e.g., because the process set a new filesystem root using
chroot(2) without changing its current directory into the new root),
then, since Linux 2.6.36, the returned path will be prefixed with the
string "(unreachable)". Such behavior can also be caused by an unpriv-
ileged user by changing the current directory into another mount names-
pace. When dealing with paths from untrusted sources, callers of these
functions should consider checking whether the returned path starts
with '/' or '(' to avoid misinterpreting an unreachable path as a rela-
The getcwd() function copies an absolute pathname of the current work-
ing directory to the array pointed to by buf, which is of length size.
If the length of the absolute pathname of the current working direc-
tory, including the terminating null byte, exceeds size bytes, NULL is
returned, and errno is set to ERANGE; an application should check for
this error, and allocate a larger buffer if necessary.
As an extension to the POSIX.1-2001 standard, glibc's getcwd() allo-
cates the buffer dynamically using malloc(3) if buf is NULL. In this
case, the allocated buffer has the length size unless size is zero,
when buf is allocated as big as necessary. The caller should free(3)
the returned buffer.
get_current_dir_name() will malloc(3) an array big enough to hold the
absolute pathname of the current working directory. If the environment
variable PWD is set, and its value is correct, then that value will be
returned. The caller should free(3) the returned buffer.
getwd() does not malloc(3) any memory. The buf argument should be a
pointer to an array at least PATH_MAX bytes long. If the length of the
absolute pathname of the current working directory, including the ter-
minating null byte, exceeds PATH_MAX bytes, NULL is returned, and errno
is set to ENAMETOOLONG. (Note that on some systems, PATH_MAX may not
be a compile-time constant; furthermore, its value may depend on the
filesystem, see pathconf(3).) For portability and security reasons,
use of getwd() is deprecated.
On success, these functions return a pointer to a string containing the
pathname of the current working directory. In the case getcwd() and
getwd() this is the same value as buf.
On failure, these functions return NULL, and errno is set to indicate
the error. The contents of the array pointed to by buf are undefined
EACCES Permission to read or search a component of the filename was
EFAULT buf points to a bad address.
EINVAL The size argument is zero and buf is not a null pointer.
EINVAL getwd(): buf is NULL.
getwd(): The size of the null-terminated absolute pathname
string exceeds PATH_MAX bytes.
ENOMEM Out of memory.
ENOENT The current working directory has been unlinked.
ERANGE The size argument is less than the length of the absolute path-
name of the working directory, including the terminating null
byte. You need to allocate a bigger array and try again.
For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see
|Interface | Attribute | Value |
|getcwd(), getwd() | Thread safety | MT-Safe |
|get_current_dir_name() | Thread safety | MT-Safe env |
getcwd() conforms to POSIX.1-2001. Note however that POSIX.1-2001
leaves the behavior of getcwd() unspecified if buf is NULL.
getwd() is present in POSIX.1-2001, but marked LEGACY. POSIX.1-2008
removes the specification of getwd(). Use getcwd() instead.
POSIX.1-2001 does not define any errors for getwd().
get_current_dir_name() is a GNU extension.
Under Linux, the function getcwd() is a system call (since 2.1.92). On
older systems it would query /proc/self/cwd. If both system call and
proc filesystem are missing, a generic implementation is called. Only
in that case can these calls fail under Linux with EACCES.
These functions are often used to save the location of the current
working directory for the purpose of returning to it later. Opening
the current directory (".") and calling fchdir(2) to return is usually
a faster and more reliable alternative when sufficiently many file
descriptors are available, especially on platforms other than Linux.
pwd(1), chdir(2), fchdir(2), open(2), unlink(2), free(3), malloc(3)
This page is part of release 4.05 of the Linux man-pages project. A
description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
latest version of this page, can be found at
GNU 2016-03-15 GETCWD(3)