exec(3)                                               Library Functions Manual                                              exec(3)

       execl, execlp, execle, execv, execvp, execvpe - execute a file

       Standard C library (libc, -lc)

       #include <unistd.h>

       extern char **environ;

       int execl(const char *pathname, const char *arg, ...
                       /*, (char *) NULL */);
       int execlp(const char *file, const char *arg, ...
                       /*, (char *) NULL */);
       int execle(const char *pathname, const char *arg, ...
                       /*, (char *) NULL, char *const envp[] */);
       int execv(const char *pathname, char *const argv[]);
       int execvp(const char *file, char *const argv[]);
       int execvpe(const char *file, char *const argv[], char *const envp[]);

   Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):


       The exec() family of functions replaces the current process image with a new process image.  The functions described in this
       manual page are layered on top of execve(2).  (See the manual page for execve(2) for further details about  the  replacement
       of the current process image.)

       The initial argument for these functions is the name of a file that is to be executed.

       The functions can be grouped based on the letters following the "exec" prefix.

   l - execl(), execlp(), execle()
       The  const  char *arg  and subsequent ellipses can be thought of as arg0, arg1, ..., argn.  Together they describe a list of
       one or more pointers to null-terminated strings that represent the argument list available to  the  executed  program.   The
       first  argument, by convention, should point to the filename associated with the file being executed.  The list of arguments
       must be terminated by a null pointer, and, since these are variadic functions, this pointer must be cast (char *) NULL.

       By contrast with the 'l' functions, the 'v' functions (below) specify the command-line arguments of the executed program  as
       a vector.

   v - execv(), execvp(), execvpe()
       The  char *const  argv[] argument is an array of pointers to null-terminated strings that represent the argument list avail‐
       able to the new program.  The first argument, by convention, should point to the filename associated with the file being ex‐
       ecuted.  The array of pointers must be terminated by a null pointer.

   e - execle(), execvpe()
       The  environment  of the new process image is specified via the argument envp.  The envp argument is an array of pointers to
       null-terminated strings and must be terminated by a null pointer.

       All other exec() functions (which do not include 'e' in the suffix) take the environment for the new process image from  the
       external variable environ in the calling process.

   p - execlp(), execvp(), execvpe()
       These  functions  duplicate  the actions of the shell in searching for an executable file if the specified filename does not
       contain a slash (/) character.  The file is sought in the colon-separated list of directory pathnames specified in the  PATH
       environment  variable.   If  this variable isn't defined, the path list defaults to a list that includes the directories re‐
       turned by confstr(_CS_PATH) (which typically returns the value "/bin:/usr/bin") and possibly also the current working direc‐
       tory; see NOTES for further details.

       execvpe() searches for the program using the value of PATH from the caller's environment, not from the envp argument.

       If  the  specified filename includes a slash character, then PATH is ignored, and the file at the specified pathname is exe‐

       In addition, certain errors are treated specially.

       If permission is denied for a file (the attempted execve(2) failed with the error EACCES),  these  functions  will  continue
       searching the rest of the search path.  If no other file is found, however, they will return with errno set to EACCES.

       If  the header of a file isn't recognized (the attempted execve(2) failed with the error ENOEXEC), these functions will exe‐
       cute the shell (/bin/sh) with the path of the file as its first argument.  (If this attempt fails, no further  searching  is

       All  other  exec()  functions (which do not include 'p' in the suffix) take as their first argument a (relative or absolute)
       pathname that identifies the program to be executed.

       The exec() functions return only if an error has occurred.  The return value is -1, and errno is set to indicate the error.

       All of these functions may fail and set errno for any of the errors specified for execve(2).

       The execvpe() function first appeared in glibc 2.11.

       For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see attributes(7).

       │Interface                                                                                    │ Attribute     │ Value       │
       │execl(), execle(), execv()                                                                   │ Thread safety │ MT-Safe     │
       │execlp(), execvp(), execvpe()                                                                │ Thread safety │ MT-Safe env │

       POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008.

       The execvpe() function is a GNU extension.

       The default search path (used when the environment does not contain the variable PATH) shows some variation across  systems.
       It  generally  includes /bin and /usr/bin (in that order) and may also include the current working directory.  On some other
       systems, the current working is included after /bin and /usr/bin, as an anti-Trojan-horse measure.  The glibc implementation
       long followed the traditional default where the current working directory is included at the start of the search path.  How‐
       ever, some code refactoring during the development of glibc 2.24 caused the current working directory to  be  dropped  alto‐
       gether  from the default search path.  This accidental behavior change is considered mildly beneficial, and won't be revert‐

       The behavior of execlp() and execvp() when errors occur while attempting to execute the file is historic practice,  but  has
       not  traditionally been documented and is not specified by the POSIX standard.  BSD (and possibly other systems) do an auto‐
       matic sleep and retry if ETXTBSY is encountered.  Linux treats it as a hard error and returns immediately.

       Traditionally, the functions execlp() and execvp() ignored all errors except for the ones described  above  and  ENOMEM  and
       E2BIG, upon which they returned.  They now return if any error other than the ones described above occurs.

       Before  glibc 2.24, execl() and execle() employed realloc(3) internally and were consequently not async-signal-safe, in vio‐
       lation of the requirements of POSIX.1.  This was fixed in glibc 2.24.

   Architecture-specific details
       On sparc and sparc64, execv() is provided as a system call by the kernel (with the prototype shown above) for  compatibility
       with SunOS.  This function is not employed by the execv() wrapper function on those architectures.

       sh(1), execve(2), execveat(2), fork(2), ptrace(2), fexecve(3), system(3), environ(7)

Linux man-pages 6.03                                         2023-01-07                                                     exec(3)