#include <fstab.h>

struct fstab *getfsent(void);


getfsent reads a line from /etc/fstab file and return a variable of type struct fstab*. Do I need to free it? Or it's managed by someone else? If it's managed by someone else, why isn't the return type const struct fstab*? I check the reference above but couldn't find anything useful.

  • 1
    It's probably implementation-dependent, but the original is static – Thomas Dickey Aug 13 '18 at 9:28

At least for glibc, you shouldn't. The source indicates that the pointer is to a member of an internal state struct, so it's not something you can directly free.

The docs also hint at this:

To read the entire content of the of the fstab file the GNU C Library contains a set of three functions which are designed in the usual way.

The "usual" way here being something like getpwent:

The return value may point to a static area, and may be overwritten by subsequent calls to getpwent(), getpwnam(3), or getpwuid(3). (Do not pass the returned pointer to free(3).)

Also, the glibc docs specifically for getfsent:

The function returns a pointer to a variable of type struct fstab. This variable is shared by all threads and therefore this function is not thread-safe. If an error occurred getfsent returns a NULL pointer.

That that variable is shared is a strong indication you should not mess with memory management.

If you want to free the resources, use endfsent(), which will clear the internal state.

  • 1
    Thanks. I wasn't aware glibc has such comprehensive documentation. It rocks! – JohnKoch Aug 13 '18 at 10:01

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