System Interface Guide



Read this guide for information about system interfaces provided by SunOS(TM) libraries. Rather than teaching you to write programs, this guide supplements programming texts by concentrating on other elements that are part of getting programs into operation.

Audience and Prerequisite Knowledge

This guide addresses programmers. Expert programmers, such as those developing system software, might find that this guide lacks the depth of information they need.

Knowledge of terminal use, of a UNIX system editor, and of the UNIX system directory and file structure is assumed. Read the OpenWindows User's Guide to review these basic tools and concepts.

The C Connection

The SunOS system supports many programming languages. Nevertheless, the relationship between this operating system and C has been and remains very close.

Most of the code in the operating system is written in the C language. So, while this guide is intended to be useful to you no matter what language you are using, most of the examples assume you are programming in C.

Hardware and Software Dependency

Except for hardware-specific information such as addresses, most of the text in this book applies to any computer running the Solaris 8 operating environment and compatible versions.

If commands work differently in your system environment, your system might be running a different software release. If some commands do not seem to exist, they might be in packages that are not installed on your system--talk to your system administrators to find out what commands you have available.

Command References

When a command is mentioned in a section of the text for the first time, a reference to the manual section where the command is formally described is included in parentheses: command(section). Numbered sections are in the Solaris 8 Reference Manual Collection.

For example, "See priocntl(2)" tells you to look at the priocntl page in section 2 of the Solaris 8 Reference Manual Collection.

Information in the Examples

While every effort has been made to present displays of information just as they appear on your terminal, it is possible that your system might produce slightly different output. Some displays depend on a particular machine configuration that might differ from yours.

Ordering Sun Documents, an Internet professional bookstore, stocks select product documentation from Sun Microsystems, Inc.

For a list of documents and how to order them, visit the Sun Documentation Center on at

Accessing Sun Documentation Online

The docs.sun.comSM Web site enables you to access Sun technical documentation online. You can browse the archive or search for a specific book title or subject. The URL is

What Typographic Conventions Mean

The following table describes the typographic changes used in this book.

Table P-1 Typographic Conventions

Typeface or Symbol 




 The names of commands, files, and directories; on-screen computer output

Edit your .login file.

Use ls -a to list all files.

machine_name% you have mail.


 What you type, contrasted with on-screen computer outputmachine_name% su Password:


 Command-line placeholder: replace with a real name or value

To delete a file, type rm filename.


Book titles, new words, or terms, or words to be emphasized. 

Read Chapter 6 in User's Guide.

These are called class options.

You must be root to do this.

Shell Prompts in Command Examples

The following table shows the default system prompt and superuser prompt for the C shell, Bourne shell, and Korn shell.

Table P-2 Shell Prompts



 C shell promptmachine_name%
 C shell superuser promptmachine_name#
 Bourne shell and Korn shell prompt$
 Bourne shell and Korn shell superuser prompt#