strerror, strerror_r - return string describing error number


#include <string.h>

char *strerror(int errnum);

int strerror_r(int errnum, char *buf, size_t buflen); /* XSI-compliant */

char *strerror_r(int errnum, char *buf, size_t buflen); /* GNU-specific */

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

The XSI-compliant version of strerror_r() is provided if: (_POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200112L || _XOPEN_SOURCE >= 600) && ! _GNU_SOURCE Otherwise, the GNU-specific version is provided.


The strerror() function returns a pointer to a string that describes the error code passed in the argument errnum, possibly using the LC_MESSAGES part of the current locale to select the appropriate language. This string must not be modified by the application, but may be modified by a subsequent call to perror(3) or strerror(). No library function will modify this string.

The strerror_r() function is similar to strerror(), but is thread safe. This function is available in two versions: an XSI-compliant version specified in POSIX.1-2001 (available since glibc 2.3.4), and a GNU-specific version (available since glibc 2.0). The XSI-compliant version is provided with the feature test macros settings shown in the SYNOPSIS; otherwise the GNU-specific version is provided. If no feature test macros are explicitly defined, then (since glibc 2.4) _POSIX_SOURCE is defined by default with the value 200112L, so that the XSI-compliant version of strerror_r() is provided by default.

The XSI-compliant strerror_r() is preferred for portable applications. It returns the error string in the user-supplied buffer buf of length buflen.

The GNU-specific strerror_r() returns a pointer to a string containing the error message. This may be either a pointer to a string that the function stores in buf, or a pointer to some (immutable) static string (in which case buf is unused). If the function stores a string in buf, then at most buflen bytes are stored (the string may be truncated if buflen is too small) and the string always includes a terminating null byte.


The strerror() and the GNU-specific strerror_r() functions return the appropriate error description string, or an "Unknown error nnn" message if the error number is unknown.

The XSI-compliant strerror_r() function returns 0 on success; on error, -1 is returned and errno is set to indicate the error.


EINVAL The value of errnum is not a valid error number.
ERANGE Insufficient storage was supplied to contain the error description string.


strerror() is specified by POSIX.1-2001, C89, C99. strerror_r() is specified by POSIX.1-2001.

The GNU-specific strerror_r() function is a non-standard extension.

POSIX.1-2001 permits strerror() to set errno if the call encounters an error, but does not specify what value should be returned as the function result in the event of an error. On some systems, strerror() returns NULL if the error number is unknown. On other systems, strerror() returns a string something like "Error nnn occurred" and sets errno to EINVAL if the error number is unknown.


err(3), errno(3), error(3), perror(3), strsignal(3)


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