The exact set of features available when you compile a source file
is controlled by which feature test macros you define.
If you compile your programs using `gcc -ansi', you get only the
ISO C library features, unless you explicitly request additional
features by defining one or more of the feature macros.
See GNU CC Command Options,
for more information about GCC options.
You should define these macros by using `#define' preprocessor
directives at the top of your source code files. These directives
must come before any #include of a system header file. It
is best to make them the very first thing in the file, preceded only by
comments. You could also use the `-D' option to GCC, but it's
better if you make the source files indicate their own meaning in a
This system exists to allow the library to conform to multiple standards.
Although the different standards are often described as supersets of each
other, they are usually incompatible because larger standards require
functions with names that smaller ones reserve to the user program. This
is not mere pedantry — it has been a problem in practice. For instance,
some non-GNU programs define functions named getline that have
nothing to do with this library's getline. They would not be
compilable if all features were enabled indiscriminately.
This should not be used to verify that a program conforms to a limited
standard. It is insufficient for this purpose, as it will not protect you
from including header files outside the standard, or relying on semantics
undefined within the standard.
— Macro: _POSIX_SOURCE
If you define this macro, then the functionality from the POSIX.1
standard (IEEE Standard 1003.1) is available, as well as all of the
ISO C facilities.
The state of _POSIX_SOURCE is irrelevant if you define the
macro _POSIX_C_SOURCE to a positive integer.
— Macro: _POSIX_C_SOURCE
Define this macro to a positive integer to control which POSIX
functionality is made available. The greater the value of this macro,
the more functionality is made available.
If you define this macro to a value greater than or equal to 1,
then the functionality from the 1990 edition of the POSIX.1 standard
(IEEE Standard 1003.1-1990) is made available.
If you define this macro to a value greater than or equal to 2,
then the functionality from the 1992 edition of the POSIX.2 standard
(IEEE Standard 1003.2-1992) is made available.
If you define this macro to a value greater than or equal to 199309L,
then the functionality from the 1993 edition of the POSIX.1b standard
(IEEE Standard 1003.1b-1993) is made available.
Greater values for _POSIX_C_SOURCE will enable future extensions.
The POSIX standards process will define these values as necessary, and
the GNU C Library should support them some time after they become standardized.
The 1996 edition of POSIX.1 (ISO/IEC 9945-1: 1996) states that
if you define _POSIX_C_SOURCE to a value greater than
or equal to 199506L, then the functionality from the 1996
edition is made available.
— Macro: _BSD_SOURCE
If you define this macro, functionality derived from 4.3 BSD Unix is
included as well as the ISO C, POSIX.1, and POSIX.2 material.
Some of the features derived from 4.3 BSD Unix conflict with the
corresponding features specified by the POSIX.1 standard. If this
macro is defined, the 4.3 BSD definitions take precedence over the
Due to the nature of some of the conflicts between 4.3 BSD and POSIX.1,
you need to use a special BSD compatibility library when linking
programs compiled for BSD compatibility. This is because some functions
must be defined in two different ways, one of them in the normal C
library, and one of them in the compatibility library. If your program
defines _BSD_SOURCE, you must give the option `-lbsd-compat'
to the compiler or linker when linking the program, to tell it to find
functions in this special compatibility library before looking for them in
the normal C library.
— Macro: _SVID_SOURCE
If you define this macro, functionality derived from SVID is
included as well as the ISO C, POSIX.1, POSIX.2, and X/Open material.
— Macro: _XOPEN_SOURCE
— Macro: _XOPEN_SOURCE_EXTENDED
If you define this macro, functionality described in the X/Open
Portability Guide is included. This is a superset of the POSIX.1 and
POSIX.2 functionality and in fact _POSIX_SOURCE and
_POSIX_C_SOURCE are automatically defined.
As the unification of all Unices, functionality only available in
BSD and SVID is also included.
If the macro _XOPEN_SOURCE_EXTENDED is also defined, even more
functionality is available. The extra functions will make all functions
available which are necessary for the X/Open Unix brand.
If the macro _XOPEN_SOURCE has the value 500 this includes
all functionality described so far plus some new definitions from the
Single Unix Specification, version 2.
— Macro: _LARGEFILE_SOURCE
If this macro is defined some extra functions are available which
rectify a few shortcomings in all previous standards. Specifically,
the functions fseeko and ftello are available. Without
these functions the difference between the ISO C interface
(fseek, ftell) and the low-level POSIX interface
(lseek) would lead to problems.
This macro was introduced as part of the Large File Support extension (LFS).
— Macro: _LARGEFILE64_SOURCE
If you define this macro an additional set of functions is made available
which enables 32 bit systems to use files of sizes beyond
the usual limit of 2GB. This interface is not available if the system
does not support files that large. On systems where the natural file
size limit is greater than 2GB (i.e., on 64 bit systems) the new
functions are identical to the replaced functions.
The new functionality is made available by a new set of types and
functions which replace the existing ones. The names of these new objects
contain 64 to indicate the intention, e.g., off_t
vs. off64_t and fseeko vs. fseeko64.
This macro was introduced as part of the Large File Support extension
(LFS). It is a transition interface for the period when 64 bit
offsets are not generally used (see _FILE_OFFSET_BITS).
— Macro: _FILE_OFFSET_BITS
This macro determines which file system interface shall be used, one
replacing the other. Whereas _LARGEFILE64_SOURCE makes the 64 bit interface available as an additional interface,
_FILE_OFFSET_BITS allows the 64 bit interface to
replace the old interface.
If _FILE_OFFSET_BITS is undefined, or if it is defined to the
value 32, nothing changes. The 32 bit interface is used and
types like off_t have a size of 32 bits on 32 bit
If the macro is defined to the value 64, the large file interface
replaces the old interface. I.e., the functions are not made available
under different names (as they are with _LARGEFILE64_SOURCE).
Instead the old function names now reference the new functions, e.g., a
call to fseeko now indeed calls fseeko64.
This macro should only be selected if the system provides mechanisms for
handling large files. On 64 bit systems this macro has no effect
since the *64 functions are identical to the normal functions.
This macro was introduced as part of the Large File Support extension
— Macro: _ISOC99_SOURCE
Until the revised ISO C standard is widely adopted the new features
are not automatically enabled. The GNU libc nevertheless has a complete
implementation of the new standard and to enable the new features the
macro _ISOC99_SOURCE should be defined.
— Macro: _GNU_SOURCE
If you define this macro, everything is included: ISO C89, ISO C99, POSIX.1, POSIX.2, BSD, SVID, X/Open, LFS, and GNU extensions. In
the cases where POSIX.1 conflicts with BSD, the POSIX definitions take
If you want to get the full effect of _GNU_SOURCE but make the
BSD definitions take precedence over the POSIX definitions, use this
sequence of definitions:
Note that if you do this, you must link your program with the BSD
compatibility library by passing the `-lbsd-compat' option to the
compiler or linker. Note: If you forget to do this, you may
get very strange errors at run time.
— Macro: _REENTRANT
— Macro: _THREAD_SAFE
If you define one of these macros, reentrant versions of several functions get
declared. Some of the functions are specified in POSIX.1c but many others
are only available on a few other systems or are unique to GNU libc.
The problem is the delay in the standardization of the thread safe C library
Unlike on some other systems, no special version of the C library must be
used for linking. There is only one version but while compiling this
it must have been specified to compile as thread safe.
We recommend you use _GNU_SOURCE in new programs. If you don't
specify the `-ansi' option to GCC and don't define any of these
macros explicitly, the effect is the same as defining
_POSIX_C_SOURCE to 2 and _POSIX_SOURCE,
_SVID_SOURCE, and _BSD_SOURCE to 1.
When you define a feature test macro to request a larger class of features,
it is harmless to define in addition a feature test macro for a subset of
those features. For example, if you define _POSIX_C_SOURCE, then
defining _POSIX_SOURCE as well has no effect. Likewise, if you
define _GNU_SOURCE, then defining either _POSIX_SOURCE or
_POSIX_C_SOURCE or _SVID_SOURCE as well has no effect.
Note, however, that the features of _BSD_SOURCE are not a subset of
any of the other feature test macros supported. This is because it defines
BSD features that take precedence over the POSIX features that are
requested by the other macros. For this reason, defining
_BSD_SOURCE in addition to the other feature test macros does have
an effect: it causes the BSD features to take priority over the conflicting
Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License