PTHREAD_CANCEL(P) POSIX Programmer's Manual PTHREAD_CANCEL(P)
This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux
implementation of this interface may differ (consult the corresponding
Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may
not be implemented on Linux.
pthread_cancel - cancel execution of a thread
int pthread_cancel(pthread_t thread);
The pthread_cancel() function shall request that thread be canceled.
The target thread's cancelability state and type determines when the
cancellation takes effect. When the cancellation is acted on, the can-
cellation cleanup handlers for thread shall be called. When the last
cancellation cleanup handler returns, the thread-specific data destruc-
tor functions shall be called for thread. When the last destructor
function returns, thread shall be terminated.
The cancellation processing in the target thread shall run asyn-
chronously with respect to the calling thread returning from
If successful, the pthread_cancel() function shall return zero; other-
wise, an error number shall be returned to indicate the error.
The pthread_cancel() function may fail if:
ESRCH No thread could be found corresponding to that specified by the
given thread ID.
The pthread_cancel() function shall not return an error code of
The following sections are informative.
Two alternative functions were considered for sending the cancellation
notification to a thread. One would be to define a new SIGCANCEL signal
that had the cancellation semantics when delivered; the other was to
define the new pthread_cancel() function, which would trigger the can-
The advantage of a new signal was that so much of the delivery criteria
were identical to that used when trying to deliver a signal that making
cancellation notification a signal was seen as consistent. Indeed, many
implementations implement cancellation using a special signal. On the
other hand, there would be no signal functions that could be used with
this signal except pthread_kill(), and the behavior of the delivered
cancellation signal would be unlike any previously existing defined
The benefits of a special function include the recognition that this
signal would be defined because of the similar delivery criteria and
that this is the only common behavior between a cancellation request
and a signal. In addition, the cancellation delivery mechanism does not
have to be implemented as a signal. There are also strong, if not
stronger, parallels with language exception mechanisms than with sig-
nals that are potentially obscured if the delivery mechanism is visibly
closer to signals.
In the end, it was considered that as there were so many exceptions to
the use of the new signal with existing signals functions it would be
misleading. A special function has resolved this problem. This func-
tion was carefully defined so that an implementation wishing to provide
the cancellation functions on top of signals could do so. The special
function also means that implementations are not obliged to implement
cancellation with signals.
pthread_exit() , pthread_cond_timedwait() , pthread_join() ,
pthread_setcancelstate() , the Base Definitions volume of
IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, <pthread.h>
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form
from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2003 Edition, Standard for Information Technology
-- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base
Specifications Issue 6, Copyright (C) 2001-2003 by the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. In the
event of any discrepancy between this version and the original IEEE and
The Open Group Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard
is the referee document. The original Standard can be obtained online
at http://www.opengroup.org/unix/online.html .
IEEE/The Open Group 2003 PTHREAD_CANCEL(P)