mmap, munmap — map or unmap files or devices into memory


#include <sys/mman.h>
void *mmap( void *addr,
  size_t length,
  int prot,
  int flags,
  int fd,
  off_t offset);
int munmap( void *addr,
  size_t length);


mmap() creates a new mapping in the virtual address space of the calling process. The starting address for the new mapping is specified in addr. The length argument specifies the length of the mapping.

If addr is NULL, then the kernel chooses the address at which to create the mapping; this is the most portable method of creating a new mapping. If addr is not NULL, then the kernel takes it as a hint about where to place the mapping; on Linux, the mapping will be created at a nearby page boundary. The address of the new mapping is returned as the result of the call.

The contents of a file mapping (as opposed to an anonymous mapping; see MAP_ANONYMOUS below), are initialized using length bytes starting at offset offset in the file (or other object) referred to by the file descriptor fd. offset must be a multiple of the page size as returned by sysconf(_SC_PAGE_SIZE).

The prot argument describes the desired memory protection of the mapping (and must not conflict with the open mode of the file). It is either PROT_NONE or the bitwise OR of one or more of the following flags:


Pages may be executed.


Pages may be read.


Pages may be written.


Pages may not be accessed.

The flags argument determines whether updates to the mapping are visible to other processes mapping the same region, and whether updates are carried through to the underlying file. This behavior is determined by including exactly one of the following values in flags:


Share this mapping. Updates to the mapping are visible to other processes that map this file, and are carried through to the underlying file. The file may not actually be updated until msync(2) or munmap() is called.


Create a private copy-on-write mapping. Updates to the mapping are not visible to other processes mapping the same file, and are not carried through to the underlying file. It is unspecified whether changes made to the file after the mmap() call are visible in the mapped region.

Both of these flags are described in POSIX.1-2001.

In addition, zero or more of the following values can be ORed in flags:

MAP_32BIT (since Linux 2.4.20, 2.6)

Put the mapping into the first 2 Gigabytes of the process address space. This flag is only supported on x86-64, for 64-bit programs. It was added to allow thread stacks to be allocated somewhere in the first 2GB of memory, so as to improve context-switch performance on some early 64-bit processors. Modern x86-64 processors no longer have this performance problem, so use of this flag is not required on those systems. The MAP_32BIT flag is ignored when MAP_FIXED is set.


Synonym for MAP_ANONYMOUS. Deprecated.


The mapping is not backed by any file; its contents are initialized to zero. The fd and offset arguments are ignored; however, some implementations require fd to be −1 if MAP_ANONYMOUS (or MAP_ANON) is specified, and portable applications should ensure this. The use of MAP_ANONYMOUS in conjunction with MAP_SHARED is only supported on Linux since kernel 2.4.


This flag is ignored. (Long ago, it signaled that attempts to write to the underlying file should fail with ETXTBUSY. But this was a source of denial-of-service attacks.)


This flag is ignored.


Compatibility flag. Ignored.


Don't interpret addr as a hint: place the mapping at exactly that address. addr must be a multiple of the page size. If the memory region specified by addr and len overlaps pages of any existing mapping(s), then the overlapped part of the existing mapping(s) will be discarded. If the specified address cannot be used, mmap() will fail. Because requiring a fixed address for a mapping is less portable, the use of this option is discouraged.


Used for stacks. Indicates to the kernel virtual memory system that the mapping should extend downward in memory.

MAP_HUGETLB (since Linux 2.6.32)

Allocate the mapping using "huge pages." See the kernel source file Documentation/vm/hugetlbpage.txt for further information.

MAP_LOCKED (since Linux 2.5.37)

Lock the pages of the mapped region into memory in the manner of mlock(2). This flag is ignored in older kernels.

MAP_NONBLOCK (since Linux 2.5.46)

Only meaningful in conjunction with MAP_POPULATE. Don't perform read-ahead: only create page tables entries for pages that are already present in RAM. Since Linux 2.6.23, this flag causes MAP_POPULATE to do nothing. One day the combination of MAP_POPULATE and MAP_NONBLOCK may be reimplemented.


Do not reserve swap space for this mapping. When swap space is reserved, one has the guarantee that it is possible to modify the mapping. When swap space is not reserved one might get SIGSEGV upon a write if no physical memory is available. See also the discussion of the file /proc/sys/vm/overcommit_memory in proc(5). In kernels before 2.6, this flag only had effect for private writable mappings.

MAP_POPULATE (since Linux 2.5.46)

Populate (prefault) page tables for a mapping. For a file mapping, this causes read-ahead on the file. Later accesses to the mapping will not be blocked by page faults. MAP_POPULATE is only supported for private mappings since Linux 2.6.23.

MAP_STACK (since Linux 2.6.27)

Allocate the mapping at an address suitable for a process or thread stack. This flag is currently a no-op, but is used in the glibc threading implementation so that if some architectures require special treatment for stack allocations, support can later be transparently implemented for glibc.

MAP_UNINITIALIZED (since Linux 2.6.33)

Don't clear anonymous pages. This flag is intended to improve performance on embedded devices. This flag is only honored if the kernel was configured with the CONFIG_MMAP_ALLOW_UNINITIALIZED option. Because of the security implications, that option is normally enabled only on embedded devices (i.e., devices where one has complete control of the contents of user memory).

Of the above flags, only MAP_FIXED is specified in POSIX.1-2001. However, most systems also support MAP_ANONYMOUS (or its synonym MAP_ANON).

Some systems document the additional flags MAP_AUTOGROW, MAP_AUTORESRV, MAP_COPY, and MAP_LOCAL.

Memory mapped by mmap() is preserved across fork(2), with the same attributes.

A file is mapped in multiples of the page size. For a file that is not a multiple of the page size, the remaining memory is zeroed when mapped, and writes to that region are not written out to the file. The effect of changing the size of the underlying file of a mapping on the pages that correspond to added or removed regions of the file is unspecified.


The munmap() system call deletes the mappings for the specified address range, and causes further references to addresses within the range to generate invalid memory references. The region is also automatically unmapped when the process is terminated. On the other hand, closing the file descriptor does not unmap the region.

The address addr must be a multiple of the page size. All pages containing a part of the indicated range are unmapped, and subsequent references to these pages will generate SIGSEGV. It is not an error if the indicated range does not contain any mapped pages.

Timestamps changes for file-backed mappings

For file-backed mappings, the st_atime field for the mapped file may be updated at any time between the mmap() and the corresponding unmapping; the first reference to a mapped page will update the field if it has not been already.

The st_ctime and st_mtime field for a file mapped with PROT_WRITE and MAP_SHARED will be updated after a write to the mapped region, and before a subsequent msync(2) with the MS_SYNC or MS_ASYNC flag, if one occurs.


On success, mmap() returns a pointer to the mapped area. On error, the value MAP_FAILED (that is, (void *) −1) is returned, and errno is set appropriately. On success, munmap() returns 0, on failure −1, and errno is set (probably to EINVAL).



A file descriptor refers to a non-regular file. Or MAP_PRIVATE was requested, but fd is not open for reading. Or MAP_SHARED was requested and PROT_WRITE is set, but fd is not open in read/write (O_RDWR) mode. Or PROT_WRITE is set, but the file is append-only.


The file has been locked, or too much memory has been locked (see setrlimit(2)).


fd is not a valid file descriptor (and MAP_ANONYMOUS was not set).


We don't like addr, length, or offset (e.g., they are too large, or not aligned on a page boundary).


(since Linux 2.6.12) length was 0.


flags contained neither MAP_PRIVATE or MAP_SHARED, or contained both of these values.


The system limit on the total number of open files has been reached.


The underlying file system of the specified file does not support memory mapping.


No memory is available, or the process's maximum number of mappings would have been exceeded.


The prot argument asks for PROT_EXEC but the mapped area belongs to a file on a file system that was mounted no-exec.


MAP_DENYWRITE was set but the object specified by fd is open for writing.

Use of a mapped region can result in these signals:


Attempted write into a region mapped as read-only.


Attempted access to a portion of the buffer that does not correspond to the file (for example, beyond the end of the file, including the case where another process has truncated the file).


SVr4, 4.4BSD, POSIX.1-2001.


On POSIX systems on which mmap(), msync(2) and munmap() are available, _POSIX_MAPPED_FILES is defined in <unistd.h> to a value greater than 0. (See also sysconf(3).)


Since kernel 2.4, this system call has been superseded by mmap2(2). Nowadays, the glibc mmap() wrapper function invokes mmap2(2) with a suitably adjusted value for offset.

On some hardware architectures (e.g., i386), PROT_WRITE implies PROT_READ. It is architecture dependent whether PROT_READ implies PROT_EXEC or not. Portable programs should always set PROT_EXEC if they intend to execute code in the new mapping.

The portable way to create a mapping is to specify addr as 0 (NULL), and omit MAP_FIXED from flags. In this case, the system chooses the address for the mapping; the address is chosen so as not to conflict with any existing mapping, and will not be 0. If the MAP_FIXED flag is specified, and addr is 0 (NULL), then the mapped address will be 0 (NULL).


On Linux there are no guarantees like those suggested above under MAP_NORESERVE. By default, any process can be killed at any moment when the system runs out of memory.

In kernels before 2.6.7, the MAP_POPULATE flag only has effect if prot is specified as PROT_NONE.

SUSv3 specifies that mmap() should fail if length is 0. However, in kernels before 2.6.12, mmap() succeeded in this case: no mapping was created and the call returned addr. Since kernel 2.6.12, mmap() fails with the error EINVAL for this case.


The following program prints part of the file specified in its first command-line argument to standard output. The range of bytes to be printed is specified via offset and length values in the second and third command-line arguments. The program creates a memory mapping of the required pages of the file and then uses write(2) to output the desired bytes.

#include <sys/mman.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <unistd.h>

#define handle_error(msg) \
    do { perror(msg); exit(EXIT_FAILURE); } while (0)

main(int argc, char *argv[])
    char *addr;
    int fd;
    struct stat sb;
    off_t offset, pa_offset;
    size_t length;
    ssize_t s;

    if (argc < 3 || argc > 4) {
        fprintf(stderr, "%s file offset [length]\n", argv[0]);

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

    if (fstat(fd, &sb) == −1)           /* To obtain file size */

    offset = atoi(argv[2]);
    pa_offset = offset & ~(sysconf(_SC_PAGE_SIZE) − 1);
        /* offset for mmap() must be page aligned */

    if (offset >= sb.st_size) {
        fprintf(stderr, "offset is past end of file\n");

    if (argc == 4) {
        length = atoi(argv[3]);
        if (offset + length > sb.st_size)
            length = sb.st_size − offset;
                /* Can't display bytes past end of file */

    } else {    /* No length arg ==> display to end of file */
        length = sb.st_size − offset;

    addr = mmap(NULL, length + offset − pa_offset, PROT_READ,
                MAP_PRIVATE, fd, pa_offset);
    if (addr == MAP_FAILED)

    s = write(STDOUT_FILENO, addr + offset − pa_offset, length);
    if (s != length) {
        if (s == −1)

        fprintf(stderr, "partial write");



getpagesize(2), mincore(2), mlock(2), mmap2(2), mprotect(2), mremap(2), msync(2), remap_file_pages(2), setrlimit(2), shmat(2), shm_open(3), shm_overview(7)

B.O. Gallmeister, POSIX.4, O'Reilly, pp. 128-129 and 389-391.


This page is part of release 3.33 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at

Copyright (C) 1996 Andries Brouwer <>
and Copyright (C) 2006, 2007 Michael Kerrisk <>

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this
manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the
entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a
permission notice identical to this one.

Since the Linux kernel and libraries are constantly changing, this
manual page may be incorrect or out-of-date.  The author(s) assume no
responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from
the use of the information contained herein.  The author(s) may not
have taken the same level of care in the production of this manual,
which is licensed free of charge, as they might when working

Formatted or processed versions of this manual, if unaccompanied by
the source, must acknowledge the copyright and authors of this work.

Modified 1997-01-31 by Eric S. Raymond <>
Modified 2000-03-25 by Jim Van Zandt <>
Modified 2001-10-04 by John Levon <>
Modified 2003-02-02 by Andi Kleen <>
Modified 2003-05-21 by Michael Kerrisk <>
MAP_LOCKED works from 2.5.37
Modified 2004-06-17 by Michael Kerrisk <>
Modified 2004-09-11 by aeb
Modified 2004-12-08, from Eric Estievenart <>
Modified 2004-12-08, mtk, formatting tidy-ups
Modified 2006-12-04, mtk, various parts rewritten
2007-07-10, mtk, Added an example program.
2008-11-18, mtk, document MAP_STACK