This is vmem/madvise_dontneed.c, an example to accompany the book, The Linux Programming Interface.

This file is not printed in the book; it is the solution to Exercise 50-2 (page 1056).

The source code file is copyright 2022, Michael Kerrisk, and is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 3.

In the listing below, the names of Linux system calls and C library functions are hyperlinked to manual pages from the Linux man-pages project, and the names of functions implemented in the book are hyperlinked to the implementations of those functions.


Download vmem/madvise_dontneed.c

  Cover of The Linux Programming Interface

Function list (Bold in this list means a function is not static)

/* madvise_dontneed.c

   Demonstrate the "destructive" semantics of the madvise() MADV_DONTNEED
   operation. On Linux, when MADV_DONTNEED is applied to a MAP_PRIVATE mapping,
   the pages (and thus any modifications to the pages) are discarded; when
   next accessed, the pages are reinitialized from the underlying file.

   NOTE: MADV_DONTNEED is not destructive on some UNIX implementations.

   The mincore() system call is supported on Linux since kernel 2.4.
#ifdef __linux__
#define _BSD_SOURCE
#include <sys/mman.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include "tlpi_hdr.h"

#define MAP_SIZE 4096
#define WRITE_SIZE 10
main(int argc, char *argv[])
    if (argc != 2 || strcmp(argv[1], "--help") == 0)
        usageErr("%s file\n", argv[0]);

    setbuf(stdout, NULL);

    int fd = open(argv[1], O_RDWR | O_CREAT, S_IRUSR | S_IWUSR);
    if (fd == -1)

    for (int j = 0; j < MAP_SIZE; j++)
        write(fd, "a", 1);
    if (fsync(fd) == -1)

    fd = open(argv[1], O_RDWR);
    if (fd == -1)

    char *addr = mmap(NULL, MAP_SIZE, PROT_READ | PROT_WRITE,
                      MAP_PRIVATE, fd, 0);
    if (addr == MAP_FAILED)

    printf("After mmap:          ");
    write(STDOUT_FILENO, addr, WRITE_SIZE);

    /* Copy-on-write semantics mean that the following modification
       will create private copies of the pages for this process */

    for (int j = 0; j < MAP_SIZE; j++)

    printf("After modification:  ");
    write(STDOUT_FILENO, addr, WRITE_SIZE);

    /* After the following, the mapping contents revert to the original file
       contents (if MADV_DONTNEED has destructive semantics, as on Linux) */

    if (madvise(addr, MAP_SIZE, MADV_DONTNEED) == -1)

    printf("After MADV_DONTNEED: ");
    write(STDOUT_FILENO, addr, WRITE_SIZE);



Download vmem/madvise_dontneed.c

Note that, in most cases, the programs rendered in these web pages are not free standing: you'll typically also need a few other source files (mostly in the lib/ subdirectory) as well. Generally, it's easier to just download the entire source tarball and build the programs with make(1). By hovering your mouse over the various hyperlinked include files and function calls above, you can see which other source files this file depends on.

Valid XHTML 1.1