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GETITIMER(2)               Linux Programmer's Manual              GETITIMER(2)

       getitimer, setitimer - get or set value of an interval timer

       #include <&lt;sys/time.h>&gt;

       int getitimer(int which, struct itimerval *value);
       int setitimer(int which, const struct itimerval *value,
                     struct itimerval *ovalue);

       The  system  provides  each  process  with  three interval timers, each
       decrementing in a distinct time domain.  When any timer expires, a sig-
       nal is sent to the process, and the timer (potentially) restarts.

       ITIMER_REAL    decrements in real time, and delivers SIGALRM upon expi-

       ITIMER_VIRTUAL decrements only  when  the  process  is  executing,  and
                      delivers SIGVTALRM upon expiration.

       ITIMER_PROF    decrements  both  when the process executes and when the
                      system is executing on behalf of the  process.   Coupled
                      with  ITIMER_VIRTUAL, this timer is usually used to pro-
                      file the time spent by the application in user and  ker-
                      nel space.  SIGPROF is delivered upon expiration.

       Timer values are defined by the following structures:

           struct itimerval {
               struct timeval it_interval; /* next value */
               struct timeval it_value;    /* current value */

           struct timeval {
               long tv_sec;                /* seconds */
               long tv_usec;               /* microseconds */

       The  function  getitimer()  fills the structure indicated by value with
       the  current  setting  for  the  timer  indicated  by  which  (one   of
       ITIMER_REAL,  ITIMER_VIRTUAL, or ITIMER_PROF).  The element it_value is
       set to the amount of time remaining on the timer, or zero if the  timer
       is  disabled.   Similarly,  it_interval is set to the reset value.  The
       function setitimer() sets the indicated timer to the  value  in  value.
       If ovalue is non-NULL, the old value of the timer is stored there.

       Timers decrement from it_value to zero, generate a signal, and reset to
       it_interval.  A timer which is set to zero (it_value  is  zero  or  the
       timer expires and it_interval is zero) stops.

       Both  tv_sec and tv_usec are significant in determining the duration of
       a timer.

       Timers will never expire before the requested time, but may expire some
       (short)  time  afterwards, which depends on the system timer resolution
       and on the system load; see time(7).  (But see BUGS below.)  Upon expi-
       ration,  a  signal will be generated and the timer reset.  If the timer
       expires while the process is active (always  true  for  ITIMER_VIRTUAL)
       the signal will be delivered immediately when generated.  Otherwise the
       delivery will be offset by a small time dependent on the  system  load-

       On  success,  zero is returned.  On error, -1 is returned, and errno is
       set appropriately.

       EFAULT value or ovalue are not valid pointers.

       EINVAL which is not one of ITIMER_REAL, ITIMER_VIRTUAL, or ITIMER_PROF;
              or  (since  Linux  2.6.22)  one of the tv_usec fields contains a
              value outside the range 0 to 999999.

       POSIX.1-2001, SVr4, 4.4BSD (this call first appeared in 4.2BSD).

       A child created via fork(2) does  not  inherit  its  parent's  interval
       timers.  Interval timers are preserved across an execve(2).

       POSIX.1 leaves the interaction between setitimer() and the three inter-
       faces alarm(2), sleep(3), and usleep(3) unspecified.

       The generation and delivery of a signal  are  distinct,  and  only  one
       instance  of  each  of  the  signals  listed above may be pending for a
       process.  Under very heavy loading, an  ITIMER_REAL  timer  may  expire
       before  the  signal from a previous expiration has been delivered.  The
       second signal in such an event will be lost.

       On Linux  kernels  before  2.6.16,  timer  values  are  represented  in
       jiffies.   If  a request is made set a timer with a value whose jiffies
       representation     exceeds     MAX_SEC_IN_JIFFIES      (defined      in
       include/linux/jiffies.h),  then the timer is silently truncated to this
       ceiling value.  On Linux/i386 (where, since Linux 2.6.13,  the  default
       jiffy  is 0.004 seconds), this means that the ceiling value for a timer
       is approximately 99.42 days.  Since Linux 2.6.16,  the  kernel  uses  a
       different  internal  representation  for  times,  and  this  ceiling is

       On certain systems  (including  i386),  Linux  kernels  before  version
       2.6.12  have a bug which will produce premature timer expirations of up
       to one jiffy under some circumstances.  This bug  is  fixed  in  kernel

       POSIX.1-2001  says  that  setitimer() should fail if a tv_usec value is
       specified that is outside of the range 0 to 999999.  However,  in  ker-
       nels  up  to  and  including  2.6.21, Linux does not give an error, but
       instead silently adjusts the corresponding seconds value for the timer.
       From  kernel 2.6.22 onwards, this non-conformance has been repaired: an
       improper tv_usec value results in an EINVAL error.

       gettimeofday(2), sigaction(2), signal(2), timerfd_create(2), time(7)

       This page is part of release 3.05 of the Linux  man-pages  project.   A
       description  of  the project, and information about reporting bugs, can
       be found at http://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.

Linux                             2008-04-24                      GETITIMER(2)