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Manual Reference Pages  -  EXPLAIN (1)


explain - explain system call error messages


Exit Status


B]explain [ I]option ... ] I]function [ I]argument ... ]

explain --version


The explain command is used to decode an error return read from an I]strace(1) listing, or silimar. Because this is being deciphered in a different process than the orginal, the results will be less accurate than if the program itself were to use I]libexplain(3).


The functions understood include:
accept I]fildes I]addr I]addrlen
  The I]accept(2) system call.
accept4 I]fildes [[ I]sock_addr I]sock_addr_size ]
  I]flags ] The I]accept4(2) system call.
access I]pathname
  The I]access(2) system call.
acct I]pathname
  The I]acct(2) system call.
acl_from_text I]text
  The I]acl_from_text(3) system call.
acl_get_fd I]fildes
  The I]acl_get_fd(3) system call.
acl_get_file I]pathname I]type
  The I]acl_get_file(3) system call.
acl_set_fd I]fildes I]acl
  The I]acl_set_fd(3) system call.
acl_set_file I]pathname I]type I]acl
  The I]acl_set_file(3) system call.
acl_to_text I]acl I]len_p
  The I]acl_to_text(3) system call.
adjtime I]delta I]olddelta
  The I]adjtime(2) system call.
adjtimex I]data
  The I]adjtimex(2) system call.
asprintf The I]asprintf(3) system call.
bind I]fildes I]addr I]sockaddr_size
  The I]bind(2) system call.
calloc I]nmemb I]size
  The I]calloc(3) system call.
chdir I]pathname
  The I]chdir(2) system call.
chmod I]pathname I]permission[hy]mode
  The I]chmod(2) system call.
chown I]pathname I]owner I]group
  The I]chown(2) system call.
chroot I]pathname
  The I]chroot(2) system call.
close I]fildes
  The I]close(2) system call.
closedir I]dir
  The I]closedir(3) system call.
connect I]fildes I]serv_addr I]serv_addr_size
  The I]connect(2) system call.
creat I]pathname [ I]permission[hy]mode
  The I]creat(2) system call.
dirfd I]dir
  The I]dirfd(3) system call.
dup I]fildes
  The I]dup(2) system call.
dup2 I]oldfd I]newfd
  The I]dup2(2) system call.
endgrent The I]endgrent(3) system call.
eventfd I]initval I]flags
  The I]eventfd(2) system call.
execlp I]pathname I]arg...
  The I]execlp(3) system call.
execv I]pathname I]argv
  The I]execv(3) system call.
execve I]pathname I]arg...
  The I]execve(2) system call.
execvp I]pathname I]arg...
  The I]execvp(3) system call.
fchdir I]pathname
  The I]fchdir(2) system call.
fchmod I]fildes I]mode
  The I]fchmod(2) system call.
fchown I]fildes I]owner I]group
  The I]fchown(2) system call.
fchownat I]dirfd I]pathname I]owner I]group
  I]flags The I]fchownat(2) system call.
fclose I]fp
  The I]fclose(3) system call.
fcntl I]fildes I]command [ I]arg ]
  The I]fcntl(2) system call.
fdopen I]fd I]mode
  The I]fdopen(3) system call.
fdopendir I]fildes
  The I]fdopendir(3) system call.
feof I]fp
  The I]feof(3) system call.
ferror I]fp
  The I]ferror(3) system call.
fflush I]fp
  The I]fflush(3) system call.
fgetc I]fp
  The I]fgetc(3) system call.
fgetpos I]fp I]pos
  The I]fgetpos(3) system call.
fgets I]data I]data_size I]fp
  The I]fgets(3) system call.
fileno I]fp
  The I]fileno(3) system call.
flock I]fildes I]command
  The I]flock(2) system call.
fork The I]fork(2) system call.
fpathconf I]fildes I]name
  The I]fpathconf(3) system call.
fpurge I]fp
  The I]fpurge(3) system call.
fread I]ptr I]size I]nmemb I]fp
  The I]fread(3) system call.
fopen I]pathname I]mode
  The I]fopen(2) system call. The I]pathname argument may need to be quoted to insulate white space and punctuation from the shell. The I]mode argument (a textual equivalent of the I]open system call’s I]flags argument). See I]fopen(3) for more information.
fputc I]c [ I]fp ]
  The I]fputc(3) system call.
fputs I]s I]fp
  The I]fputs(3) system call.
freopen I]pathname I]flags I]fp
  The I]freopen(3) system call.
fseek I]fp I]offset I]whence
  The I]fseek(3) system call.
fseeko I]fp I]offset I]whence
  The I]fseeko(3) system call.
fsetpos I]fp I]pos
  The I]fsetpos(3) system call.
fstat I]pathname
  The I]fstat(2) system call.
fstatat I]fildes I]pathname I]data I]flags
  The I]fstatat(2) system call.
fstatfs I]fildes I]data
  The I]fstatfs(2) system call.
fstatvfs I]fildes I]data
  The I]fstatvfs(2) system call.
fsync I]fildes
  The I]fsync(2) system call.
ftell I]fp
  The I]ftell(3) system call.
ftello I]fp
  The I]ftello(3) system call.
ftime I]tp
  The I]ftime(3) system call.
ftruncate I]fildes I]length
  The I]ftruncate(2) system call.
futimens I]fildes I]data
  The I]futimens(3) system call.
futimes I]fildes I]tv[0] I]data[1]
  The I]futimes(3) system call.
futimesat I]fildes I]pathname I]data
  The I]futimesat(2) system call.
getc I]fp
  The I]getc(3) system call.
getchar The I]getchar(3) system call.
getcwd I]buf I]size
  The I]getcwd(2) system call.
getdomainname I]data I]data_size
  The I]getdomainname(2) system call.
getgrent The I]getgrent(3) system call.
getgrouplist I]user I]group I]groups I]ngroups
  The I]getgrouplist(3) system call.
getgroups I]data_size I]data
  The I]getgroups(2) system call.
gethostbyname I]name
  The I]gethostbyname(3) system call.
  The I]gethostid(3) system call.
gethostname [ I]data I]data_size ]
  The I]gethostname(2) system call.
getpeername I]fildes I]sock_addr I]sock_addr_size
  The I]getpeername(2) system call.
getpgid I]pid
  The I]getpgid(2) system call.
getpgrp I]pid
  The I]getpgrp(2) system call.
getpriority I]which I]who
  The I]getpriority(2) system call.
getresgid I]rgid I]egid I]sgid
  The I]getresgid(2) system call.
getresuid I]ruid I]euid I]suid
  The I]getresuid(2) system call.
getrlimit I]resource I]rlim
  The I]getrlimit(2) system call.
getrusage I]who I]usage
  The I]getrusage(2) system call.
getsockname I]fildes [ I]sock_addr [ I]sock_addr_size ]]
  The I]getsockname(2) system call.
getsockopt I]fildes I]level I]name I]data
  I]data_size The I]getsockopt(2) system call.
gettimeofday [ I]tv [ I]tz ] ]
  The I]gettimeofday(2) system call.
getw I]fp
  The I]getw(3) system call.
iconv I]cd I]inbuf I]inbytesleft I]outbuf
  I]outbytesleft The I]iconv(3) system call.
iconv_close I]cd
  The I]iconv_close(3) system call.
iconv_open I]tocode I]fromcode
  The I]iconv_open(3) system call.
ioctl I]fildes I]request I]data
  The I]ioctl(2) system call.
kill I]pid I]sig
  The I]kill(2) system call.
lchmod I]pathname I]mode
  The I]lchmod(2) system call.
lchown I]pathname I]owner I]group
  The I]lchown(2) system call.
lchownat I]fildes I]pathname I]uid I]gid
  The I]lchownat(2) system call.
link I]oldpath I]newpath
  The I]link(2) system call.
listen I]fildes I]backlog
  The I]listen(2) system call.
lseek I]fildes I]offset I]whence
  The I]lseek(2) system call.
lstat I]pathname
  The I]lstat(2) system call.
lutimes I]pathname I]data
  The I]lutimes(3) system call.
malloc I]size
  The I]malloc(3) system call.
mkdir I]pathname [ I]mode ]
  The I]mkdir(2) system call.
mkdtemp I]pathname
  The I]mkdtemp(3) system call.
mknod I]pathname I]mode I]dev
  The I]mknod(2) system call.
mkostemp I]templat I]flags
  The I]mkostemp(3) system call.
mkstemp I]templat
  The I]mkstemp(3) system call.
mktemp I]pathname
  The I]mktemp(3) system call.
mmap I]data I]data_size I]prot I]flags
  I]fildes I]offset The I]mmap(2) system call.
mount I]source I]target I]file_systems_type
  I]flags I]data The I]mount(2) system call.
munmap I]data I]data_size
  The I]munmap(2) system call.
nanosleep I]req I]rem
  The I]nanosleep(2) system call.
nice I]inc
  The I]nice(2) system call.
open I]pathname I]flags [ I]mode ]
  The I]open(2) system call. The I]pathname argument may need to be quoted to insulate white space and punctuation from the shell. The I]flags argument may be numeric or symbolic. The I]mode argument may be numeric or symbolic.
openat I]fildes I]pathname I]flags I]mode
  The I]openat(2) system call. The I]flags argument may be numeric or symbolic. The I]mode argument may be numeric or symbolic.
opendir I]pathname
  The I]opendir(3) system call.
pathconf I]pathname I]name
  The I]pathconf(3) system call.
pclose I]fp
  The I]pclose(3) system call.
pipe I]pipefd
  The I]pipe(2) system call.
pipe2 I]fildes I]flags
  The I]pipe2(2) system call.
poll I]fds I]nfds I]timeout
  The I]poll(2) system call.
popen I]command I]flags
  The I]popen(3) system call.
pread I]fildes I]data I]data_size I]offset
  The I]pread(2) system call.
ptrace I]request I]pid I]addr I]data
  The I]ptrace(2) system call.
putc I]c I]fp
  The I]putc(3) system call.
putchar I]c
  The I]putchar(3) system call.
putenv I]string
  The I]putenv(3) system call.
puts I]s The I]puts(3) system call.
putw I]value I]fp
  The I]putw(3) system call.
pwrite I]fildes I]data I]data_size I]offset
  The I]pwrite(2) system call.
raise I]sig
  The I]raise(3) system call.
read I]fildes I]data I]data[hy]size
  The I]read(2) system call.
realloc I]ptr I]size
  The I]realloc(3) system call.
realpath I]pathname I]resolved_pathname
  The I]realpath(3) system call.
rename I]oldpath I]newpath
  The I]rename(2) system call.
readv I]fildes I]iov ...
  The I]readv(2) system call.
select I]nfds I]readfds I]writefds I]exceptfds
  I]timeout The I]select(2) system call.
setbuf I]fp I]data
  The I]setbuf(3) system call.
setbuffer I]fp I]data I]size
  The I]setbuffer(3) system call.
setdomainname I]data I]data_size
  The I]setdomainname(2) system call.
setenv I]name I]value I]overwrite
  The I]setenv(3) system call.
setgid I]gid
  The I]setgid(2) system call.
setgrent The I]setgrent(3) system call.
setgroups I]data_size I]data
  The I]setgroups(2) system call.
sethostname I]name [ I]name_size ]
  The I]sethostname(2) system call.
setlinebuf I]fp
  The I]setlinebuf(3) system call.
setpgid [ I]pid [ I]pgid ]]
  The I]setpgid(2) system call.
setpgrp I]pid I]pgid
  The I]setpgrp(2) system call.
setpriority I]which I]who I]prio
  The I]setpriority(2) system call.
setregid I]rgid I]egid
  The I]setregid(2) system call.
setreuid I]ruid I]euid
  The I]setreuid(2) system call.
setresgid I]rgid I]egid I]sgid
  The I]setresgid(2) system call.
setresuid I]ruid I]euid I]suid
  The I]setresuid(2) system call.
setreuid I]ruid I]euid
  The I]setreuid(2) system call.
setsid The I]setsid(2) system call.
setsockopt I]fildes I]level I]name I]data
  I]data_size The I]setsockopt(2) system call.
settimeofday I]tv I]tz
  The I]settimeofday(2) system call.
setuid I]uid
  The I]setuid(2) system call.
setvbuf I]fp I]data I]mode I]size
  The I]setvbuf(3) system call.
shmat I]shmid I]shmaddr I]shmflg
  The I]shmat(2) system call.
shmctl I]shmid I]command I]data
  The I]shmctl(2) system call.
signalfd I]fildes I]mask I]flags
  The I]signalfd(2) system call.
sleep I]seconds
  The I]sleep(3) system call.
socket I]domain I]type I]protocol
  The I]socket(2) system call.
socketpair I]domain I]type I]protocol I]sv
  The I]socketpair(2) system call.
stat I]pathname
  The I]stat(2) system call.
statfs I]pathname I]data
  The I]statfs(2) system call.
statvfs I]pathname I]data
  The I]statvfs(2) system call.
stime I]t
  The I]stime(2) system call.
strcoll I]s1 I]s2
  The I]strcoll(3) system call.
strdup I]data
  The I]strdup(3) system call.
strerror The error given will be printed out with all known detail.
strndup I]data I]data_size
  The I]strndup(3) system call.
strtod I]nptr I]endptr
  The I]strtod(3) system call.
strtof I]nptr I]endptr
  The I]strtof(3) system call.
strtol I]nptr I]endptr I]base
  The I]strtol(3) system call.
strtold I]nptr I]endptr
  The I]strtold(3) system call.
strtoll I]nptr I]endptr I]base
  The I]strtoll(3) system call.
strtoul I]nptr I]endptr I]base
  The I]strtoul(3) system call.
strtoull I]nptr I]endptr I]base
  The I]strtoull(3) system call.
symlink I]oldpath I]newpath
  The I]symlink(2) system call.
system I]command
  The I]system(3) system call.
tcdrain I]fildes
  The I]tcdrain(3) system call.
tcflow I]fildes I]action
  The I]tcflow(3) system call.
tcflush I]fildes I]selector
  The I]tcflush(3) system call.
tcgetattr I]fildes I]data
  The I]tcgetattr(3) system call.
tcsendbreak I]fildes I]duration
  The I]tcsendbreak(3) system call.
tcsetattr I]fildes I]options I]data
  The I]tcsetattr(3) system call.
telldir I]dir
  The I]telldir(3) system call.
tempnam I]dir I]prefix
  The I]tempnam(3) system call.
time I]t The I]time(2) system call.
timerfd_create I]clockid I]flags
  The I]timerfd_create(2) system call.
tmpfile The I]tmpfile(3) system call.
tmpnam I]pathname
  The I]tmpnam(3) system call.
truncate I]pathname I]size
  The I]truncate(2) system call.
usleep I]usec
  The I]usleep(3) system call.
uname I]data
  The I]uname(2) system call.
ungetc I]c I]fp
  The I]ungetc(3) system call.
unlink I]pathname
  The I]unlink(2) system call.
unsetenv I]name
  The I]unsetenv(3) system call.
ustat I]dev I]ubuf
  The I]ustat(2) system call.
utime I]pathname [ I]times ]
  The I]utime(2) system call.
utimens I]pathname [ I]data ]
  The I]utimens(2) system call.
utimensat [ I]fildes ] I]pathname [ I]data [ I]flags ]]
  The I]utimensat(2) system call.
utimes I]pathname I]data
  The I]utimes(2) system call.
vasprintf I]data I]format I]ap
  The I]vasprintf(3) system call.
vfork The I]vfork(2) system call.
wait I]status
  The I]wait(2) system call.
wait3 I]status I]options I]rusage
  The I]wait3(2) system call.
wait4 I]pid I]status I]options I]rusage
  The I]wait4(2) system call.
waitpid I]pid I]status I]options
  The I]waitpid(2) system call.
write I]fildes I]data I]data[hy]size
  The I]write(2) system call.
writev I]fildes I]data I]data[hy]size
  The I]writev(2) system call.
Do not include the perentheses used to make the call.


The explain command understands the following options:
-E The exit staus, success or fail, will be printed immediately before the I]access command terminates.
B]-e I]number
  The value of I]errno as a number (I]e.g. 2), or as a symbol (I]e.g. ENOENT), or as the text of its meaning (I]e.g. No such file or directory). You will need quotes to insulate spaces and punctuation from the shell.
B]-V Print the version of the I]explain executing.


The explain command exits with status 1 on any error. The explain command only exits with status 0 if there are no errors.


explain version 1.3
Copyright © 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Peter Miller


Written by Peter Miller <>
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