getpid() or something similar

Derek Elkins
Thu, 22 May 2003 12:21:10 -0400

On Thu, 22 May 2003 08:21:37 -0700
John Meacham <> wrote:

> On Thu, May 22, 2003 at 12:05:46PM +0200, Peter Simons wrote:
> > Simon Marlow writes:
> >  > Even using a ProcessID doesn't guarnatee uniqueness [...]
> > Why not? If I use the file only temporarily (it is gone once the
> > process terminates), something like /tmp/foo.<pid> will be unique,
> > for all I can tell. 
> standard procedure is to integrate: 
> 1) your hostname
> 2) the current time
> 3) the pid
> 4) an incrementing counter
> 5) your program name
> into the name. this should be guarenteed to be unique. the reason to
> include your hostname is that you may be on an NFS filesystem where
> different systems will be using the same PID at the same time. the
> reason to use the current time is pid's are reused. and you need the
> counter to create multiple temporary files within a second of each
> other. the program name is because other apps may use this scheme.
> >  > The right way to do this is to try to open it for writing, and
> >  > try a different name if the open fails.
> > 
> > Unfortunately, this approach features a race condition because POSIX
> > has no notion of mandatory file locking. I'd really rather avoid
> > this, if I can.
> > 
> > Is there no other way? And one that works across different
> > compilers?
> mandatory locks arn't needed. (and they are a common extension to the
> fcntl(2) locking mechanism anyway, at least I do not know of a system
> which doesn't support them)
> open(..., O_RDWR | O_CREAT | O_EXCL, 0600);
> is what you want, (wrapped in haskell of course) it will create the
> file if it doesnt exit (O_CREAT) but if it already does exist then it
> will return an error (EEXIST). this check is done ATOMICALLY, meaning
> there is no race condition. of course, if you follow the above advice
> when choosing a name then this is unlikely to be an issue unless a
> program tries to step on your toes.
>         John

Why do you need such a unique name, using the open call you can always
choose another if it already exists.  One way or the other you still
need to atomically check for security reasons, no matter how unique
your name is your code shouldn't rely on the file not being created
between checking and creation, uniqueness means little for a malicious
attack. Simply using a random number generator would seem sufficient,
though I'd probably do, at least, progname++num, though more so that the
user can see what's related to what (if files get left around) than on
the off chance of 4 billion numerically named files.