poll - driver for fast poll on many file descriptors


#include <sys/devpoll.h>
int fd = open("/dev/poll", O_RDWR);
ssize_t n = write(int fd, struct pollfd buf[], int bufsize);
int n = ioctl(int fd, DP_POLL, struct dvpoll* arg);
int n = ioctl(int fd, DP_ISPOLLED, struct pollfd* pfd);


Open file descriptor that refers to the /dev/poll driver.


Array of pollfd structures.

Size of buf in bytes.

Pointer to pollcall structure.

Pointer to pollfd structure.


The /dev/poll driver is a special driver that enables you to monitor
multiple sets of polled file descriptors. By using the /dev/poll
driver, you can efficiently poll large numbers of file descriptors.
Access to the /dev/poll driver is provided through open(2), write(2), and
ioctl(2) system calls.

Writing an array of pollfd struct to the /dev/poll driver has the
effect of adding these file descriptors to the monitored poll file
descriptor set represented by the fd. To monitor multiple file
descriptor sets, open the /dev/poll driver multiple times. Each fd
corresponds to one set. For each pollfd struct entry (defined in

struct pollfd {
int fd;
short events;
short revents;

The fd field specifies the file descriptor being polled. The events
field indicates the interested poll events on the file descriptor. If a
pollfd array contains multiple pollfd entries with the same fd field, the
"events" field in each pollfd entry is OR'ed. A special POLLREMOVE event
in the events field of the pollfd structure removes the fd from the
monitored set. The revents field is not used. Write returns the number
of bytes written successfully or -1 when write fails.

The DP_POLL ioctl is used to retrieve returned poll events occurred on
the polled file descriptors in the monitored set represented by fd. arg
is a pointer to the devpoll structures which are defined as follows:

struct dvpoll {
struct pollfd* dp_fds;
int dp_nfds;
int dp_timeout;

The dp_fds points to a buffer that holds an array of returned pollfd
structures. The dp_nfds field specifies the size of the buffer in terms
of the number of pollfd entries it contains. The dp_nfds field also
indicates the maximum number of file descriptors from which poll
information can be obtained. If there is no interested events on any of
the polled file descriptors, the DP_POLL ioctl call will wait dp_timeout
milliseconds before returning. If dp_timeout is 0, the ioctl call returns
immediately. If dp_timeout is -1, the call blocks until an interested
poll events is available or the call is interrupted. Upon return, if the
ioctl call has failed, -1 is returned. The memory content pointed by
dp_fds is not modified. A return value 0 means the ioctl is timed out. In
this case, the memory content pointed by dp_fds is not modified. If the
call is successful, it returns the number of valid pollfd entries in the
array pointed by dp_fds; the contents of the rest of the buffer is
undefined. For each valid pollfd entry, the fd field indicates the file
descriptor on which the polled events happened. The events field is the
user specified poll events. The revents field contains the events
occurred. -1 is returned if the call fails.

DP_ISPOLLED ioctl allows you to query if a file descriptor is already in
the monitored set represented by fd. The fd field of the pollfd
structure indicates the file descriptor of interest. The DP_ISPOLLED
ioctl returns 1 if the file descriptor is in the set. The events field
contains 0. The revents field contains the currently polled events. The
ioctl returns 0 if the file descriptor is not in the set. The pollfd
structure pointed by pfd is not modified. The ioctl returns a -1 if the
call fails.


The following example shows how /dev/poll may be used.

* open the driver
if ((wfd = open("/dev/poll", O_RDWR)) < 0) {
pollfd = (struct pollfd* )malloc(sizeof(struct pollfd) * MAXBUF);
if (pollfd == NULL) {
* initialize buffer
for (i = 0; i < MAXBUF; i++) {
pollfd[i].fd = fds[i];
pollfd[i].events = POLLIN;
pollfd[i].revents = 0;
if (write(wfd, &pollfd[0], sizeof(struct pollfd) * MAXBUF) !=
sizeof(struct pollfd) * MAXBUF) {
perror("failed to write all pollfds");
close (wfd);
* read from the devpoll driver
dopoll.dp_timeout = -1;
dopoll.dp_nfds = MAXBUF;
dopoll.dp_fds = pollfd;
result = ioctl(wfd, DP_POLL, &dopoll);
if (result < 0) {
perror("/dev/poll ioctl DP_POLL failed");
close (wfd);
for (i = 0; i < result; i++) {
read(dopoll.dp_fds[i].fd, rbuf, STRLEN);

The following example is part of a test program which shows how
DP_ISPOLLED() ioctl may be used.


loopcnt = 0;
while (loopcnt < ITERATION) {
rn = random();
rn %= RANGE;
if (write(fds[rn], TESTSTRING, strlen(TESTSTRING)) !=
strlen(TESTSTRING)) {
perror("write to fifo failed.");
close (wfd);
error = 1;
goto out1;
dpfd.fd = fds[rn];
dpfd.events = 0;
dpfd.revents = 0;
result = ioctl(wfd, DP_ISPOLLED, &dpfd);
if (result < 0) {
perror("/dev/poll ioctl DP_ISPOLLED failed");
printf("errno = %d\n", errno);
close (wfd);
error = 1;
goto out1;
if (result != 1) {
printf("DP_ISPOLLED returned incorrect result: %d.\n",
close (wfd);
error = 1;
goto out1;
if (dpfd.fd != fds[rn]) {
printf("DP_ISPOLLED returned wrong fd %d, expect %d\n",
dpfd.fd, fds[rn]);
close (wfd);
error = 1;
goto out1;
if (dpfd.revents != POLLIN) {
printf("DP_ISPOLLED returned unexpected revents %d\n",
close (wfd);
error = 1;
goto out1;
if (read(dpfd.fd, rbuf, strlen(TESTSTRING)) !=
strlen(TESTSTRING)) {
perror("read from fifo failed");
close (wfd);
error = 1;
goto out1;


A process does not have permission to access the content
cached in /dev/poll.

A signal was caught during the execution of the ioctl(2)

The request argument requires a data transfer to or from a
buffer pointed to by arg, but arg points to an illegal

The request or arg parameter is not valid for this device, or
field of the dvpoll struct pointed by arg is not valid (for
example, when using write/pwrite dp_nfds is greater than
{OPEN_MAX}, or when using the DPPOLL ioctl dp_nfds is greater
than or equal to {OPEN_MAX}}.

The O_NONBLOCK flag is set, the named file is a FIFO, the
O_WRONLY flag is set, and no process has the file open for
reading; or the named file is a character special or block
special file and the device associated with this special file
does not exist.


See attributes(7) for a description of the following attributes:

|Architecture SPARC, x86 |
|Interface Stability Obsolete |
|MT-Level Safe |


open(2), poll(2), write(2), attributes(7)


The /dev/poll API is particularly beneficial to applications that poll a
large number of file descriptors repeatedly. Applications will exhibit
the best performance gain if the polled file descriptor list rarely

When using the /dev/poll driver, you should remove a closed file
descriptor from a monitored poll set. Failure to do so may result in a
POLLNVAL revents being returned for the closed file descriptor. When a
file descriptor is closed but not removed from the monitored set, and is
reused in subsequent open of a different device, you will be polling the
device associated with the reused file descriptor. In a multithreaded
application, careful coordination among threads doing close and DP_POLL
ioctl is recommended for consistent results.

The /dev/poll driver caches a list of polled file descriptors, which are
specific to a process. Therefore, the /dev/poll file descriptor of a
process will be inherited by its child process, just like any other file
descriptors. But the child process will have very limited access through
this inherited /dev/poll file descriptor. Any attempt to write or do
ioctl by the child process will result in an EACCES error. The child
process should close the inherited /dev/poll file descriptor and open
its own if desired.

The /dev/poll driver does not yet support polling. Polling on a
/dev/poll file descriptor will result in POLLERR being returned in the
revents field of pollfd structure.

January 10, 2020 POLL(4D)