LOCKF(1) FreeBSD General Commands Manual LOCKF(1)


lockfexecute a command while holding a file lock


lockf [ -kns][ -t seconds] file command [ arguments]


The lockf utility acquires an exclusive lock on a file, creating it if necessary,
and removing the file on exit unless explicitly told not to.
While holding the lock, it executes a command with optional arguments. After the command completes, lockf releases the lock, and removes the file unless the -k option is specified. BSD-style locking is used, as described in flock(2); the mere existence of the file is not considered to constitute a lock.

If the lockf utility is being used to facilitate concurrency between a number of processes, it is recommended that the -k option be used. This will guarantee lock ordering, as well as implement a performance enhanced algorithm which minimizes CPU load associated with concurrent unlink, drop and re-acquire activity. It should be noted that if the -k option is not used, then no guarantees around lock ordering can be made.

The following options are supported:

Causes the lock file to be kept (not removed) after the command completes.
Causes lockf to operate silently. Failure to acquire the lock is indicated only in the exit status.
Causes lockf to fail if the specified lock file does not exist. If -n is not specified, lockf will create file if necessary.
-t seconds
Specifies a timeout for waiting for the lock. By default, lockf waits indefinitely to acquire the lock. If a timeout is specified with this option, lockf will wait at most the given number of seconds before giving up. A timeout of 0 may be given, in which case lockf will fail unless it can acquire the lock immediately. When a lock times out, command is not executed.

In no event will lockf break a lock that is held by another process.


If lockf successfully acquires the lock, it returns the exit status produced by command. Otherwise, it returns one of the exit codes defined in sysexits(3), as follows:
The specified lock file was already locked by another process.
The lockf utility was unable to create the lock file, e.g., because of insufficient access privileges.
The -n option is specified and the specified lock file does not exist.
There was an error on the lockf command line.
A system call (e.g., fork(2)) failed unexpectedly.
The command did not exit normally, but may have been signaled or stopped.


flock(2), sysexits(3)


A lockf utility first appeared in FreeBSD 2.2.


John Polstra <jdp@polstra.com>
July 7, 1998 FreeBSD