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MKTEMP (3) | C library functions | Unix Manual Pages | :man


mktemp - make temporary file name (unique)


Return Values
See Also


.Lb libc


.In unistd.h char * mktemp "char *template" int mkstemp "char *template" int mkstemps "char *template" "int suffixlen" char * mkdtemp "char *template"


The mktemp function takes the given file name template and overwrites a portion of it to create a file name. This file name is guaranteed not to exist at the time of function invocation and is suitable for use by the application. The template may be any file name with some number of ‘X s’ appended to it, for example /tmp/temp.XXXXXX. The trailing ‘X s’ are replaced with a unique alphanumeric combination. The number of unique file names mktemp can return depends on the number of ‘X s’ provided; six ‘X s’ will result in mktemp selecting one of 56800235584 (62 ** 6) possible temporary file names.

The mkstemp function makes the same replacement to the template and creates the template file, mode 0600, returning a file descriptor opened for reading and writing. This avoids the race between testing for a file’s existence and opening it for use.

The mkstemps function acts the same as mkstemp, except it permits a suffix to exist in the template. The template should be of the form /tmp/tmpXXXXXXsuffix. The mkstemps function is told the length of the suffix string.

The mkdtemp function makes the same replacement to the template as in mktemp and creates the template directory, mode 0700.


The mktemp and mkdtemp functions return a pointer to the template on success and NULL on failure. The mkstemp and mkstemps functions return -1 if no suitable file could be created. If either call fails an error code is placed in the global variable errno.


The mkstemp, mkstemps and mkdtemp functions may set errno to one of the following values:
The pathname portion of the template is not an existing directory.

The mkstemp, mkstemps and mkdtemp functions may also set errno to any value specified by the stat(2) function.

The mkstemp and mkstemps functions may also set errno to any value specified by the open(2) function.

The mkdtemp function may also set errno to any value specified by the mkdir(2) function.


A common problem that results in a core dump is that the programmer passes in a read-only string to mktemp, mkstemp, mkstemps or mkdtemp. This is common with programs that were developed before -isoC compilers were common. For example, calling mkstemp with an argument of "/tmp/tempfile.XXXXXX" will result in a core dump due to mkstemp attempting to modify the string constant that was given. If the program in question makes heavy use of that type of function call, you do have the option of compiling the program so that it will store string constants in a writable segment of memory. See gcc(1) for more information.


chmod(2), getpid(2), mkdir(2), open(2), stat(2)



open(2) arc4random(3), arc4random(3)

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