File Management System Calls Solution

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  • ​A system call is a call to the operating system’s kernel requesting a service


  • ​Provides an interface between a user program (or a process) and the operatingsystem


  • ​Can be viewed as special function calls


  • ​A typical system call can be grouped into one of the following categories:


​Process management


 ​File management


​Directory management


  • ​Other system calls (Linux has over 300 different calls!), seemansyscalls


  • ​In this session, we will focus on system calls related to file management


access ​system call


  • ​determines whether the calling process has access permission to a file


  • ​checks for read, write, execute permissions and file existence


  • ​takes two arguments


​argument 1: file path


 ​argument 2: R​_OK, W_OK, ​and X​_OK, ​corresponding to read, write, and execute permission


  • ​return value is 0, if the process has all the specified permissions


  • ​If the second argument isF​_OK​,the call simply checks for file’s existence


  • ​If the file exists but the calling process does not have the specified permissions, access returns -1and sets errno​



Example code snippet (incomplete) with system call (written in C)


Snippet 1: check​_file_permissions.c


#include <stdio.h>


#include <unistd.h>


#include <errno.h>


int main (int argc, char* argv[])




char* filepath = argv[1];


int returnval;


// Check file existence


returnval = access (filepath, F_OK);


if (returnval == 0)


printf (“\n %s exists\n”, filepath);






if (errno == ENOENT)


printf (“%s does not exist\n”, filepath); else if (errno == EACCES)


printf (“%s is not accessible\n”, filepath); return 0;




  • Check read access …


  • Check write access …


return 0;







File Management System Calls


  • ​To create a new file, you use thecreat​ ​system call. The named file is created as an empty file and opened for writing, and a positive integer, the open file identifier is returned. The file location is set to 0.


  • ​In order to use a file, you first need to ask for it by name. This is called opening the file. Theopen​ system call creates an operating system object called an open file. The open file is logically connected to the file you named in the open system call. An open file has a file location (or file descriptor) associated with it and that is the offset in the file where the next read or write will start. The way in which the file is opened is specified by the flags argument: O​_RDONLY ​to read; O​_WRONLY ​to write; O​_RDWR ​to both read and write; you can also do a bitwise OR with O​_CREAT ​if you want the


system to create the file if it doesn’t exist already (e.g., O​_RDONLY​|O​_CREAT ​creates and open in read mode). The system call returns the file descriptor of the new file (or a negative number if there is an error, placing the code into errno​​).


  • ​After you open a file, you can use theread​ ​or write​ ​system calls to read or write the open file. Each read or write system call increments a file location for a number of characters read or written. Thus, the file is read (or/and written) sequentially by default. It returns the number of bytes read or written, or -1 if it ran into an error.



  • ​Thelseek​ ​system call is used to achieve random access into the file since it changes the file location that will be used for the next read or write.


  • ​You close the open file using theclose​ ​system call, when you are done using it. A return code 0 means the close succeeded.


  • ​You delete the file from a directory using theunlink​ ​system call. A return code 0 means the unlink  If an error occurs in trying to delete a file, a negative integer is returned.



Table 1: System calls for file management ​System Call Parameters

System Call Parameters Returns Comment
open name, flags fd Connect to open file
creat name, mode fd Creates file and connect to open file
read fld, buffer, count count Reads bytes from open file
write fld, buffer, count count Write bytes from open file
lseek fld, offset, mode offset Moves to position of next read or write
close fld code Closes or Disconnect open file
unlink name code Delete named file








An example to open an existing file


#include <stdio.h>


#include <sys/types.h>


#include <sys/stat.h>


#include <fcntl.h>


#include <string.h>


#include <errno.h>


int main(int argc, char *argv[])




int fd;


if(2 != argc)




printf(“\n Usage : \n”);


return 1;




errno = 0;


fd = open(argv[1], O_RDONLY);


if(-1 == fd)




printf(“\n open() failed with error [%s]\n”,strerror(errno)); return 1;








printf(“\n Open() Successful\n”);


/* open() succeeded, now one can do read operations on the


file opened since we opened it in read-only mode. Also once done with processing, the file needs to be closed.*/




return 0;




The code above gives a basic usage of the open() function. Please note that this code does not show any read or close operations once the open() is successful. As mentioned in the comment in code, when done with the opened file, a close() should be called on the file descriptor opened. Now, lets run the code and see the output: First we try with a file (say, sample.txt) present in the same directory from where the executable was run. (Note, for files that are not in the same directory, an absolute path need to be specified).


  • ./open sample.txt Open() Successful











How the system calls are processed?




Error codes


  • ​System calls occasionally run into a problem


  • ​Unix system calls handle this by returning some bad value (usually -1) and setting a global integervariable errno​ ​to some value that indicates the problem


  • ​Subroutineperror()​ ​(it’s not a system call – it’s just a regular library function) that prints a mean-ingful error message to the standard error file


So here’s how a typical segment might look.


fd = open(“filename”, O_RDONLY);


if(fd < 0) /* ah, there’s an error */




printf(“sorry, I couldn’t open filename\n”); perror(“open”); /* This will explain why */ return;






DUE: Feb 20, 2020, 11:59 PM – 20 Points


  1. (a) Extend code snippet 1 to check for read and write access permissions of a given file


  • Write a C program where open​​system call creates a new file (say, destination​.txt​) and then opens it. (Hint: use the bitwise OR flag)


  1. UNIX cat​​command has three functions with regard to text files: displaying them, combining copies of them and creating new ones.


Write a C program to implement a command called ​displaycontent ​that takes a (text) file name as argument and display its contents. Report an appropriate message if the file does not exist or can’t


be opened (i.e. the file doesn’t have read permission). You are to use open()​​,read()​​,write()​ ​and close() ​system calls.


NOTE: ​Name your executable file as displaycontent and execute your program as .​/displaycontent



  1. The cp​​command copies the source file specified by the SourceFile parameter to the destination file specified by the DestinationFile




Write a C program that mimics the cp​ ​command using open()​ ​system call to open source​.txt ​file in

read-only mode and copy the contents of it to destination​.txt ​using read()​ ​and write()​ ​system calls.


  1. Repeat part 2 (by writing a new C program) as per the following procedure:


  • Read the next 100 characters from source​.txt​,and among characters read, replace each char-

acter ’1’ with character ’A’ and all characters are then written in destination​.txt


  • Write characters “XYZ” into file destination​.txt


​(c) Repeat the previous steps until the end of file source​.txt​.The last read step may not have 100 characters.




General Instructions ​Use perror​ ​sub-routine to display meaningful error messages in case of system call

failures. Properly close the files using close​ ​system call after you finish read/write. Learn to use man​ pages to know more about file management system calls (e.g, man​ read​).


Submission Instructions


  • ​You should use only file management system calls for file manipulation


  • ​Use the givensource​.txt


  • ​All the programs MUST be clearly indented and internally documented


  • ​Make sure your programs compile and run without any errors


  • ​Save all your programs with meaningful names and zip into a single folder as: task1_[your lastname here].zip (e.g., task1​zip​)
  • ​Email your code with the subject line, “Task 1 – CSc 332 (L) – lastname” (e.g.,Task1​ – CSc 332 (L)

– Acharya​)


Note: ​If you do not comply with the submission instructions mentioned above, there is a chance that I miss grading your code. I usually grade two or three task submissions together and classify the received emails based on subject line. So please make sure that your subject line and zip directory names are correct.