() transforms the calling process into a new
process. The new process is constructed from an ordinary file, whose name is
pointed to by path
, called the
new process file
. This file is either an
executable object file, or a file of data for an interpreter. An executable
object file consists of an identifying header, followed by pages of data
representing the initial program (text) and initialized data pages. Additional
pages may be specified by the header to be initialized with zero data; see
An interpreter file begins with a line of the form:
When an interpreter file is passed to execve
system instead calls execve
() with the specified
. If the optional
is specified, it becomes the first argument
to the interpreter
, and the original
becomes the second argument; otherwise,
becomes the first argument. The original
arguments are shifted over to become the subsequent arguments. The zeroth
argument, normally the name of the file being executed, is left unchanged.
The argument argv
is a pointer to a
null-terminated array of character pointers to NUL-terminated character
strings. These strings construct the argument list to be made available to the
new process. At least one non-null argument must be present in the array; by
custom, the first element should be the name of the executed program (for
example, the last component of path
The argument envp
is also a pointer to a
null-terminated array of character pointers to NUL-terminated strings. A
pointer to this array is normally stored in the global variable
. These strings pass information to
the new process that is not directly an argument to the command (see
File descriptors open in the calling process image remain open in the new
process image, except for those for which the close-on-exec flag is set (see
). Descriptors that
remain open are unaffected by execve
(). In the
case of a new setuid or setgid executable being executed, if file descriptors
0, 1, or 2 (representing stdin, stdout, and stderr) are currently unallocated,
these descriptors will be opened to point to some system file like
. The intent is to ensure these
descriptors are not unallocated, since many libraries make assumptions about
the use of these 3 file descriptors.
Signals set to be ignored in the calling process, with the exception of
, are set to be ignored in the new
process. Other signals are set to default action in the new process image.
Blocked signals remain blocked regardless of changes to the signal action. The
signal stack is reset to be undefined (see
If the set-user-ID mode bit of the new process image file is set (see
), the effective user ID
of the new process image is set to the owner ID of the new process image file.
If the set-group-ID mode bit of the new process image file is set, the
effective group ID of the new process image is set to the group ID of the new
process image file. (The effective group ID is the first element of the group
list.) The real user ID, real group ID and other group IDs of the new process
image remain the same as the calling process image. After any set-user-ID and
set-group-ID processing, the effective user ID is recorded as the saved
set-user-ID, and the effective group ID is recorded as the saved set-group-ID.
These values may be used in changing the effective IDs later (see
). The set-user-ID and
set-group-ID bits have no effect if the new process image file is located on a
file system mounted with the nosuid flag. The process will be started without
the new permissions.
The new process also inherits the following attributes from the calling process:
When a program is executed as a result of an
() call, it is entered as follows:
main(int argc, char **argv, char **envp)
is the number of elements in
(the “arg count”) and
points to the array of character
pointers to the arguments themselves.
As the execve
() function overlays the current
process image with a new process image the successful call has no process to
return to. If execve
() does return to the calling
process an error has occurred; the return value will be -1 and the global
is set to indicate the error.
() will fail and return to the calling
- A component of the path prefix is not a directory.
- A component of a pathname exceeded
NAME_MAX characters, or an entire
pathname (including the terminating NUL) exceeded
- The new process file does not exist.
- Too many symbolic links were encountered in translating the
- The new process file is a directory.
- Search permission is denied for a component of the path
- The new process file is not an ordinary file.
- The new process file mode denies execute permission.
- The new process file is on a filesystem mounted with
execution disabled (
- The new process file is marked with
-z wxneeded to
perform W^X violating operations, but it is located on a file system not
allowing such operations, being mounted without the
- The new process file has the appropriate access permission,
but has an invalid magic number in its header.
- The new process file is a pure procedure (shared text) file
that is currently open for writing by some process.
- The new process requires more virtual memory than is
allowed by the imposed maximum
- The number of bytes in the new process's argument list is
larger than the system-imposed limit. The limit in the system as released
is 262144 bytes (
- The new process file is not as long as indicated by the
size values in its header.
envp point to an illegal address.
- argv did not contain at
least one element.
- An I/O error occurred while reading from the file
- During startup of an
interpreter, the system file table was found
to be full.
() function is expected to conform to
IEEE Std 1003.1-2008
The predecessor of these functions, the former
() system call, first appeared in
Version 1 AT&T UNIX
() function first appeared in
Version 7 AT&T UNIX
If a program is setuid
to a non-superuser, but is
executed when the real uid
then the process has some of the powers of a superuser as well.
IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (“POSIX.1”)
as ignored in the new process;
portable programs cannot rely on execve
it to the default disposition.