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

NAME

strlcpy, strlcat - size-bounded string copying and concatenation

CONTENTS

Library
Synopsis
Description
Return Values
Examples
See Also
History

LIBRARY


.Lb libc

SYNOPSIS


.In string.h size_t strlcpy "char *dst" "const char *src" "size_t size" size_t strlcat "char *dst" "const char *src" "size_t size"

DESCRIPTION

The strlcpy and strlcat functions copy and concatenate strings respectively. They are designed to be safer, more consistent, and less error prone replacements for strncpy(3) and strncat(3). Unlike those functions, strlcpy and strlcat take the full size of the buffer (not just the length) and guarantee to NUL-terminate the result (as long as size is larger than 0 or, in the case of strlcat, as long as there is at least one byte free in dst). Note that you should include a byte for the NUL in size. Also note that strlcpy and strlcat only operate on true "C" strings. This means that for strlcpy src must be NUL-terminated and for strlcat both src and dst must be NUL-terminated.

The strlcpy function copies up to size - 1 characters from the NUL-terminated string src to dst, NUL-terminating the result.

The strlcat function appends the NUL-terminated string src to the end of dst. It will append at most size - strlen(dst) - 1 bytes, NUL-terminating the result.

RETURN VALUES

The strlcpy and strlcat functions return the total length of the string they tried to create. For strlcpy that means the length of src. For strlcat that means the initial length of dst plus the length of src. While this may seem somewhat confusing it was done to make truncation detection simple.

Note however, that if strlcat traverses size characters without finding a NUL, the length of the string is considered to be size and the destination string will not be NUL-terminated (since there was no space for the NUL). This keeps strlcat from running off the end of a string. In practice this should not happen (as it means that either size is incorrect or that dst is not a proper "C" string). The check exists to prevent potential security problems in incorrect code.

EXAMPLES

The following code fragment illustrates the simple case:
char *s, *p, buf[BUFSIZ];


...


(void)strlcpy(buf, s, sizeof(buf));
(void)strlcat(buf, p, sizeof(buf));

To detect truncation, perhaps while building a pathname, something like the following might be used:
char *dir, *file, pname[MAXPATHLEN];


...


if (strlcpy(pname, dir, sizeof(pname)) >= sizeof(pname))
goto toolong;
if (strlcat(pname, file, sizeof(pname)) >= sizeof(pname))
goto toolong;

Since we know how many characters we copied the first time, we can speed things up a bit by using a copy instead of an append:
char *dir, *file, pname[MAXPATHLEN];
size_t n;


...


n = strlcpy(pname, dir, sizeof(pname));
if (n >= sizeof(pname))
goto toolong;
if (strlcpy(pname + n, file, sizeof(pname) - n) >= sizeof(pname) - n)
goto toolong;

However, one may question the validity of such optimizations, as they defeat the whole purpose of strlcpy and strlcat. As a matter of fact, the first version of this manual page got it wrong.

SEE ALSO

snprintf(3), strncat(3), strncpy(3)

HISTORY


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