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flock - Unix, Linux Command

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flock - Manage locks from shell scripts


flock [-sxon] [-w timeout] lockfile [-c] command...

flock [-sxun] [-w timeout] fd


This utility manages flock(2) locks from within shell scripts or the command line.

The first form wraps the lock around the executing a command, in a manner similar to su(1) or newgrp(1). It locks a specified file, which is created (assuming appropriate permissions), if it does not already exist.

The second form is conveninent inside shell scripts, and is usually used the following manner:

flock -s 200
# ... commands executed under lock ...
) 200>/var/lock/mylockfile

The mode used to open the file doesn’t matter to flock; using > or >> allows the lockfile to be created if it does not already exist, however, write permission is required; using < requires that the file already exists but only read permission is required.

By default, if the lock cannot be immediately acquired, flock waits until the lock is available.


-s, --shared
  Obtain a shared lock, sometimes called a read lock.
-x, -e, --exclusive
  Obtain an exclusive lock, sometimes called a write lock. This is the default.
-u, --unlock
  Drop a lock. This is usually not required, since a lock is automatically dropped when the file is closed. However, it may be required in special cases, for example if the enclosed command group may have forked a background process which should not be holding the lock.
-n, --nb, --nonblock
  Fail (with an exit code of 1) rather than wait if the lock cannot be immediately acquired.
-w, --wait, --timeout seconds
  Fail (with an exit code of 1) if the lock cannot be acquired within seconds seconds. Decimal fractional values are allowed.
-o, --close
  Close the file descriptor on which the lock is held before executing command. This is useful if command spawns a child process which should not be hold ing the lock.
-c, --command command
  Pass a single command to the shell with -c.
-h, --help Print a help message.


Written by H. Peter Anvin <>.


Copyright © 2003-2006 H. Peter Anvin.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.


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