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=head1 NAME
libev - a high performance full-featured event loop written in C
#include <ev.h>
#include <ev.h>
ev_io stdin_watcher;
ev_timer timeout_watcher;
/* called when data readable on stdin */
static void
stdin_cb (EV_P_ struct ev_io *w, int revents)
/* puts ("stdin ready"); */
ev_io_stop (EV_A_ w); /* just a syntax example */
ev_unloop (EV_A_ EVUNLOOP_ALL); /* leave all loop calls */
static void
timeout_cb (EV_P_ struct ev_timer *w, int revents)
/* puts ("timeout"); */
ev_unloop (EV_A_ EVUNLOOP_ONE); /* leave one loop call */
main (void)
struct ev_loop *loop = ev_default_loop (0);
/* initialise an io watcher, then start it */
ev_io_init (&stdin_watcher, stdin_cb, /*STDIN_FILENO*/ 0, EV_READ);
ev_io_start (loop, &stdin_watcher);
/* simple non-repeating 5.5 second timeout */
ev_timer_init (&timeout_watcher, timeout_cb, 5.5, 0.);
ev_timer_start (loop, &timeout_watcher);
/* loop till timeout or data ready */
ev_loop (loop, 0);
return 0;
The newest version of this document is also available as a html-formatted
web page you might find easier to navigate when reading it for the first
time: L<>.
Libev is an event loop: you register interest in certain events (such as a
file descriptor being readable or a timeout occurring), and it will manage
these event sources and provide your program with events.
To do this, it must take more or less complete control over your process
(or thread) by executing the I<event loop> handler, and will then
communicate events via a callback mechanism.
You register interest in certain events by registering so-called I<event
watchers>, which are relatively small C structures you initialise with the
details of the event, and then hand it over to libev by I<starting> the
Libev supports C<select>, C<poll>, the Linux-specific C<epoll>, the
BSD-specific C<kqueue> and the Solaris-specific event port mechanisms
for file descriptor events (C<ev_io>), the Linux C<inotify> interface
(for C<ev_stat>), relative timers (C<ev_timer>), absolute timers
with customised rescheduling (C<ev_periodic>), synchronous signals
(C<ev_signal>), process status change events (C<ev_child>), and event
watchers dealing with the event loop mechanism itself (C<ev_idle>,
C<ev_embed>, C<ev_prepare> and C<ev_check> watchers) as well as
file watchers (C<ev_stat>) and even limited support for fork events
It also is quite fast (see this
L<benchmark|> comparing it to libevent
for example).
Libev is very configurable. In this manual the default configuration will
be described, which supports multiple event loops. For more info about
various configuration options please have a look at B<EMBED> section in
this manual. If libev was configured without support for multiple event
loops, then all functions taking an initial argument of name C<loop>
(which is always of type C<struct ev_loop *>) will not have this argument.
Libev represents time as a single floating point number, representing the
(fractional) number of seconds since the (POSIX) epoch (somewhere near
the beginning of 1970, details are complicated, don't ask). This type is
called C<ev_tstamp>, which is what you should use too. It usually aliases
to the C<double> type in C, and when you need to do any calculations on
it, you should treat it as some floatingpoint value. Unlike the name
component C<stamp> might indicate, it is also used for time differences
throughout libev.
These functions can be called anytime, even before initialising the
library in any way.
=over 4
=item ev_tstamp ev_time ()
Returns the current time as libev would use it. Please note that the
C<ev_now> function is usually faster and also often returns the timestamp
you actually want to know.
=item ev_sleep (ev_tstamp interval)
Sleep for the given interval: The current thread will be blocked until
either it is interrupted or the given time interval has passed. Basically
this is a subsecond-resolution C<sleep ()>.
=item int ev_version_major ()
=item int ev_version_minor ()
You can find out the major and minor ABI version numbers of the library
you linked against by calling the functions C<ev_version_major> and
C<ev_version_minor>. If you want, you can compare against the global
symbols C<EV_VERSION_MAJOR> and C<EV_VERSION_MINOR>, which specify the
version of the library your program was compiled against.
These version numbers refer to the ABI version of the library, not the
release version.
Usually, it's a good idea to terminate if the major versions mismatch,
as this indicates an incompatible change. Minor versions are usually
compatible to older versions, so a larger minor version alone is usually
not a problem.
Example: Make sure we haven't accidentally been linked against the wrong
assert (("libev version mismatch",
ev_version_major () == EV_VERSION_MAJOR
&& ev_version_minor () >= EV_VERSION_MINOR));
=item unsigned int ev_supported_backends ()
Return the set of all backends (i.e. their corresponding C<EV_BACKEND_*>
value) compiled into this binary of libev (independent of their
availability on the system you are running on). See C<ev_default_loop> for
a description of the set values.
Example: make sure we have the epoll method, because yeah this is cool and
a must have and can we have a torrent of it please!!!11
assert (("sorry, no epoll, no sex",
ev_supported_backends () & EVBACKEND_EPOLL));
=item unsigned int ev_recommended_backends ()
Return the set of all backends compiled into this binary of libev and also
recommended for this platform. This set is often smaller than the one
returned by C<ev_supported_backends>, as for example kqueue is broken on
most BSDs and will not be autodetected unless you explicitly request it
(assuming you know what you are doing). This is the set of backends that
libev will probe for if you specify no backends explicitly.
=item unsigned int ev_embeddable_backends ()
Returns the set of backends that are embeddable in other event loops. This
is the theoretical, all-platform, value. To find which backends
might be supported on the current system, you would need to look at
C<ev_embeddable_backends () & ev_supported_backends ()>, likewise for
recommended ones.
See the description of C<ev_embed> watchers for more info.
=item ev_set_allocator (void *(*cb)(void *ptr, long size))
Sets the allocation function to use (the prototype is similar - the
semantics is identical - to the realloc C function). It is used to
allocate and free memory (no surprises here). If it returns zero when
memory needs to be allocated, the library might abort or take some
potentially destructive action. The default is your system realloc
You could override this function in high-availability programs to, say,
free some memory if it cannot allocate memory, to use a special allocator,
or even to sleep a while and retry until some memory is available.
Example: Replace the libev allocator with one that waits a bit and then
static void *
persistent_realloc (void *ptr, size_t size)
for (;;)
void *newptr = realloc (ptr, size);
if (newptr)
return newptr;
sleep (60);
ev_set_allocator (persistent_realloc);
=item ev_set_syserr_cb (void (*cb)(const char *msg));
Set the callback function to call on a retryable syscall error (such
as failed select, poll, epoll_wait). The message is a printable string
indicating the system call or subsystem causing the problem. If this
callback is set, then libev will expect it to remedy the sitution, no
matter what, when it returns. That is, libev will generally retry the
requested operation, or, if the condition doesn't go away, do bad stuff
(such as abort).
Example: This is basically the same thing that libev does internally, too.
static void
fatal_error (const char *msg)
perror (msg);
abort ();
ev_set_syserr_cb (fatal_error);
An event loop is described by a C<struct ev_loop *>. The library knows two
types of such loops, the I<default> loop, which supports signals and child
events, and dynamically created loops which do not.
If you use threads, a common model is to run the default event loop
in your main thread (or in a separate thread) and for each thread you
create, you also create another event loop. Libev itself does no locking
whatsoever, so if you mix calls to the same event loop in different
threads, make sure you lock (this is usually a bad idea, though, even if
done correctly, because it's hideous and inefficient).
=over 4
=item struct ev_loop *ev_default_loop (unsigned int flags)
This will initialise the default event loop if it hasn't been initialised
yet and return it. If the default loop could not be initialised, returns
false. If it already was initialised it simply returns it (and ignores the
flags. If that is troubling you, check C<ev_backend ()> afterwards).
If you don't know what event loop to use, use the one returned from this
The flags argument can be used to specify special behaviour or specific
backends to use, and is usually specified as C<0> (or C<EVFLAG_AUTO>).
The following flags are supported:
=over 4
The default flags value. Use this if you have no clue (it's the right
thing, believe me).
If this flag bit is ored into the flag value (or the program runs setuid
or setgid) then libev will I<not> look at the environment variable
C<LIBEV_FLAGS>. Otherwise (the default), this environment variable will
override the flags completely if it is found in the environment. This is
useful to try out specific backends to test their performance, or to work
around bugs.
Instead of calling C<ev_default_fork> or C<ev_loop_fork> manually after
a fork, you can also make libev check for a fork in each iteration by
enabling this flag.
This works by calling C<getpid ()> on every iteration of the loop,
and thus this might slow down your event loop if you do a lot of loop
iterations and little real work, but is usually not noticeable (on my
Linux system for example, C<getpid> is actually a simple 5-insn sequence
without a syscall and thus I<very> fast, but my Linux system also has
C<pthread_atfork> which is even faster).
The big advantage of this flag is that you can forget about fork (and
forget about forgetting to tell libev about forking) when you use this
This flag setting cannot be overriden or specified in the C<LIBEV_FLAGS>
environment variable.
=item C<EVBACKEND_SELECT> (value 1, portable select backend)
This is your standard select(2) backend. Not I<completely> standard, as
libev tries to roll its own fd_set with no limits on the number of fds,
but if that fails, expect a fairly low limit on the number of fds when
using this backend. It doesn't scale too well (O(highest_fd)), but its usually
the fastest backend for a low number of fds.
=item C<EVBACKEND_POLL> (value 2, poll backend, available everywhere except on windows)
And this is your standard poll(2) backend. It's more complicated than
select, but handles sparse fds better and has no artificial limit on the
number of fds you can use (except it will slow down considerably with a
lot of inactive fds). It scales similarly to select, i.e. O(total_fds).
=item C<EVBACKEND_EPOLL> (value 4, Linux)
For few fds, this backend is a bit little slower than poll and select,
but it scales phenomenally better. While poll and select usually scale
like O(total_fds) where n is the total number of fds (or the highest fd),
epoll scales either O(1) or O(active_fds). The epoll design has a number
of shortcomings, such as silently dropping events in some hard-to-detect
cases and rewiring a syscall per fd change, no fork support and bad
support for dup:
While stopping, setting and starting an I/O watcher in the same iteration
will result in some caching, there is still a syscall per such incident
(because the fd could point to a different file description now), so its
best to avoid that. Also, C<dup ()>'ed file descriptors might not work
very well if you register events for both fds.
Please note that epoll sometimes generates spurious notifications, so you
need to use non-blocking I/O or other means to avoid blocking when no data
(or space) is available.
=item C<EVBACKEND_KQUEUE> (value 8, most BSD clones)
Kqueue deserves special mention, as at the time of this writing, it
was broken on I<all> BSDs (usually it doesn't work with anything but
sockets and pipes, except on Darwin, where of course it's completely
useless. On NetBSD, it seems to work for all the FD types I tested, so it
is used by default there). For this reason it's not being "autodetected"
unless you explicitly specify it explicitly in the flags (i.e. using
C<EVBACKEND_KQUEUE>) or libev was compiled on a known-to-be-good (-enough)
system like NetBSD.
It scales in the same way as the epoll backend, but the interface to the
kernel is more efficient (which says nothing about its actual speed,
of course). While stopping, setting and starting an I/O watcher does
never cause an extra syscall as with epoll, it still adds up to two event
changes per incident, support for C<fork ()> is very bad and it drops fds
silently in similarly hard-to-detetc cases.
=item C<EVBACKEND_DEVPOLL> (value 16, Solaris 8)
This is not implemented yet (and might never be).
=item C<EVBACKEND_PORT> (value 32, Solaris 10)
This uses the Solaris 10 event port mechanism. As with everything on Solaris,
it's really slow, but it still scales very well (O(active_fds)).
Please note that solaris event ports can deliver a lot of spurious
notifications, so you need to use non-blocking I/O or other means to avoid
blocking when no data (or space) is available.
Try all backends (even potentially broken ones that wouldn't be tried
with C<EVFLAG_AUTO>). Since this is a mask, you can do stuff such as
If one or more of these are ored into the flags value, then only these
backends will be tried (in the reverse order as given here). If none are
specified, most compiled-in backend will be tried, usually in reverse
order of their flag values :)
The most typical usage is like this:
if (!ev_default_loop (0))
fatal ("could not initialise libev, bad $LIBEV_FLAGS in environment?");
Restrict libev to the select and poll backends, and do not allow
environment settings to be taken into account:
Use whatever libev has to offer, but make sure that kqueue is used if
available (warning, breaks stuff, best use only with your own private
event loop and only if you know the OS supports your types of fds):
ev_default_loop (ev_recommended_backends () | EVBACKEND_KQUEUE);
=item struct ev_loop *ev_loop_new (unsigned int flags)
Similar to C<ev_default_loop>, but always creates a new event loop that is
always distinct from the default loop. Unlike the default loop, it cannot
handle signal and child watchers, and attempts to do so will be greeted by
undefined behaviour (or a failed assertion if assertions are enabled).
Example: Try to create a event loop that uses epoll and nothing else.
struct ev_loop *epoller = ev_loop_new (EVBACKEND_EPOLL | EVFLAG_NOENV);
if (!epoller)
fatal ("no epoll found here, maybe it hides under your chair");
=item ev_default_destroy ()
Destroys the default loop again (frees all memory and kernel state
etc.). None of the active event watchers will be stopped in the normal
sense, so e.g. C<ev_is_active> might still return true. It is your
responsibility to either stop all watchers cleanly yoursef I<before>
calling this function, or cope with the fact afterwards (which is usually
the easiest thing, you can just ignore the watchers and/or C<free ()> them
for example).
Note that certain global state, such as signal state, will not be freed by
this function, and related watchers (such as signal and child watchers)
would need to be stopped manually.
In general it is not advisable to call this function except in the
rare occasion where you really need to free e.g. the signal handling
pipe fds. If you need dynamically allocated loops it is better to use
C<ev_loop_new> and C<ev_loop_destroy>).
=item ev_loop_destroy (loop)
Like C<ev_default_destroy>, but destroys an event loop created by an
earlier call to C<ev_loop_new>.
=item ev_default_fork ()
This function reinitialises the kernel state for backends that have
one. Despite the name, you can call it anytime, but it makes most sense
after forking, in either the parent or child process (or both, but that
again makes little sense).
You I<must> call this function in the child process after forking if and
only if you want to use the event library in both processes. If you just
fork+exec, you don't have to call it.
The function itself is quite fast and it's usually not a problem to call
it just in case after a fork. To make this easy, the function will fit in
quite nicely into a call to C<pthread_atfork>:
pthread_atfork (0, 0, ev_default_fork);
At the moment, C<EVBACKEND_SELECT> and C<EVBACKEND_POLL> are safe to use
without calling this function, so if you force one of those backends you
do not need to care.
=item ev_loop_fork (loop)
Like C<ev_default_fork>, but acts on an event loop created by
C<ev_loop_new>. Yes, you have to call this on every allocated event loop
after fork, and how you do this is entirely your own problem.
=item unsigned int ev_loop_count (loop)
Returns the count of loop iterations for the loop, which is identical to
the number of times libev did poll for new events. It starts at C<0> and
happily wraps around with enough iterations.
This value can sometimes be useful as a generation counter of sorts (it
"ticks" the number of loop iterations), as it roughly corresponds with
C<ev_prepare> and C<ev_check> calls.
=item unsigned int ev_backend (loop)
Returns one of the C<EVBACKEND_*> flags indicating the event backend in
=item ev_tstamp ev_now (loop)
Returns the current "event loop time", which is the time the event loop
received events and started processing them. This timestamp does not
change as long as callbacks are being processed, and this is also the base
time used for relative timers. You can treat it as the timestamp of the
event occurring (or more correctly, libev finding out about it).
=item ev_loop (loop, int flags)
Finally, this is it, the event handler. This function usually is called
after you initialised all your watchers and you want to start handling
If the flags argument is specified as C<0>, it will not return until
either no event watchers are active anymore or C<ev_unloop> was called.
Please note that an explicit C<ev_unloop> is usually better than
relying on all watchers to be stopped when deciding when a program has
finished (especially in interactive programs), but having a program that
automatically loops as long as it has to and no longer by virtue of
relying on its watchers stopping correctly is a thing of beauty.
A flags value of C<EVLOOP_NONBLOCK> will look for new events, will handle
those events and any outstanding ones, but will not block your process in
case there are no events and will return after one iteration of the loop.
A flags value of C<EVLOOP_ONESHOT> will look for new events (waiting if
neccessary) and will handle those and any outstanding ones. It will block
your process until at least one new event arrives, and will return after
one iteration of the loop. This is useful if you are waiting for some
external event in conjunction with something not expressible using other
libev watchers. However, a pair of C<ev_prepare>/C<ev_check> watchers is
usually a better approach for this kind of thing.
Here are the gory details of what C<ev_loop> does:
- Before the first iteration, call any pending watchers.
* If there are no active watchers (reference count is zero), return.
- Queue all prepare watchers and then call all outstanding watchers.
- If we have been forked, recreate the kernel state.
- Update the kernel state with all outstanding changes.
- Update the "event loop time".
- Calculate for how long to block.
- Block the process, waiting for any events.
- Queue all outstanding I/O (fd) events.
- Update the "event loop time" and do time jump handling.
- Queue all outstanding timers.
- Queue all outstanding periodics.
- If no events are pending now, queue all idle watchers.
- Queue all check watchers.
- Call all queued watchers in reverse order (i.e. check watchers first).
Signals and child watchers are implemented as I/O watchers, and will
be handled here by queueing them when their watcher gets executed.
- If ev_unloop has been called or EVLOOP_ONESHOT or EVLOOP_NONBLOCK
were used, return, otherwise continue with step *.
Example: Queue some jobs and then loop until no events are outsanding
... queue jobs here, make sure they register event watchers as long
... as they still have work to do (even an idle watcher will do..)
ev_loop (my_loop, 0);
... jobs done. yeah!
=item ev_unloop (loop, how)
Can be used to make a call to C<ev_loop> return early (but only after it
has processed all outstanding events). The C<how> argument must be either
C<EVUNLOOP_ONE>, which will make the innermost C<ev_loop> call return, or
C<EVUNLOOP_ALL>, which will make all nested C<ev_loop> calls return.
=item ev_ref (loop)
=item ev_unref (loop)
Ref/unref can be used to add or remove a reference count on the event
loop: Every watcher keeps one reference, and as long as the reference
count is nonzero, C<ev_loop> will not return on its own. If you have
a watcher you never unregister that should not keep C<ev_loop> from
returning, ev_unref() after starting, and ev_ref() before stopping it. For
example, libev itself uses this for its internal signal pipe: It is not
visible to the libev user and should not keep C<ev_loop> from exiting if
no event watchers registered by it are active. It is also an excellent
way to do this for generic recurring timers or from within third-party
libraries. Just remember to I<unref after start> and I<ref before stop>.
Example: Create a signal watcher, but keep it from keeping C<ev_loop>
running when nothing else is active.
struct ev_signal exitsig;
ev_signal_init (&exitsig, sig_cb, SIGINT);
ev_signal_start (loop, &exitsig);
evf_unref (loop);
Example: For some weird reason, unregister the above signal handler again.
ev_ref (loop);
ev_signal_stop (loop, &exitsig);
=item ev_set_io_collect_interval (loop, ev_tstamp interval)
=item ev_set_timeout_collect_interval (loop, ev_tstamp interval)
These advanced functions influence the time that libev will spend waiting
for events. Both are by default C<0>, meaning that libev will try to
invoke timer/periodic callbacks and I/O callbacks with minimum latency.
Setting these to a higher value (the C<interval> I<must> be >= C<0>)
allows libev to delay invocation of I/O and timer/periodic callbacks to
increase efficiency of loop iterations.
The background is that sometimes your program runs just fast enough to
handle one (or very few) event(s) per loop iteration. While this makes
the program responsive, it also wastes a lot of CPU time to poll for new
events, especially with backends like C<select ()> which have a high
overhead for the actual polling but can deliver many events at once.
By setting a higher I<io collect interval> you allow libev to spend more
time collecting I/O events, so you can handle more events per iteration,
at the cost of increasing latency. Timeouts (both C<ev_periodic> and
C<ev_timer>) will be not affected. Setting this to a non-null bvalue will
introduce an additional C<ev_sleep ()> call into most loop iterations.
Likewise, by setting a higher I<timeout collect interval> you allow libev
to spend more time collecting timeouts, at the expense of increased
latency (the watcher callback will be called later). C<ev_io> watchers
will not be affected. Setting this to a non-null value will not introduce
any overhead in libev.
Many (busy) programs can usually benefit by setting the io collect
interval to a value near C<0.1> or so, which is often enough for
interactive servers (of course not for games), likewise for timeouts. It
usually doesn't make much sense to set it to a lower value than C<0.01>,
as this approsaches the timing granularity of most systems.
A watcher is a structure that you create and register to record your
interest in some event. For instance, if you want to wait for STDIN to
become readable, you would create an C<ev_io> watcher for that:
static void my_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, struct ev_io *w, int revents)
ev_io_stop (w);
ev_unloop (loop, EVUNLOOP_ALL);
struct ev_loop *loop = ev_default_loop (0);
struct ev_io stdin_watcher;
ev_init (&stdin_watcher, my_cb);
ev_io_set (&stdin_watcher, STDIN_FILENO, EV_READ);
ev_io_start (loop, &stdin_watcher);
ev_loop (loop, 0);
As you can see, you are responsible for allocating the memory for your
watcher structures (and it is usually a bad idea to do this on the stack,
although this can sometimes be quite valid).
Each watcher structure must be initialised by a call to C<ev_init
(watcher *, callback)>, which expects a callback to be provided. This
callback gets invoked each time the event occurs (or, in the case of io
watchers, each time the event loop detects that the file descriptor given
is readable and/or writable).
Each watcher type has its own C<< ev_<type>_set (watcher *, ...) >> macro
with arguments specific to this watcher type. There is also a macro
to combine initialisation and setting in one call: C<< ev_<type>_init
(watcher *, callback, ...) >>.
To make the watcher actually watch out for events, you have to start it
with a watcher-specific start function (C<< ev_<type>_start (loop, watcher
*) >>), and you can stop watching for events at any time by calling the
corresponding stop function (C<< ev_<type>_stop (loop, watcher *) >>.
As long as your watcher is active (has been started but not stopped) you
must not touch the values stored in it. Most specifically you must never
reinitialise it or call its C<set> macro.
Each and every callback receives the event loop pointer as first, the
registered watcher structure as second, and a bitset of received events as
third argument.
The received events usually include a single bit per event type received
(you can receive multiple events at the same time). The possible bit masks
=over 4
=item C<EV_READ>
=item C<EV_WRITE>
The file descriptor in the C<ev_io> watcher has become readable and/or
The C<ev_timer> watcher has timed out.
The C<ev_periodic> watcher has timed out.
=item C<EV_SIGNAL>
The signal specified in the C<ev_signal> watcher has been received by a thread.
=item C<EV_CHILD>
The pid specified in the C<ev_child> watcher has received a status change.
=item C<EV_STAT>
The path specified in the C<ev_stat> watcher changed its attributes somehow.
=item C<EV_IDLE>
The C<ev_idle> watcher has determined that you have nothing better to do.
=item C<EV_CHECK>
All C<ev_prepare> watchers are invoked just I<before> C<ev_loop> starts
to gather new events, and all C<ev_check> watchers are invoked just after
C<ev_loop> has gathered them, but before it invokes any callbacks for any
received events. Callbacks of both watcher types can start and stop as
many watchers as they want, and all of them will be taken into account
(for example, a C<ev_prepare> watcher might start an idle watcher to keep
C<ev_loop> from blocking).
=item C<EV_EMBED>
The embedded event loop specified in the C<ev_embed> watcher needs attention.
=item C<EV_FORK>
The event loop has been resumed in the child process after fork (see
=item C<EV_ERROR>
An unspecified error has occured, the watcher has been stopped. This might
happen because the watcher could not be properly started because libev
ran out of memory, a file descriptor was found to be closed or any other
problem. You best act on it by reporting the problem and somehow coping
with the watcher being stopped.
Libev will usually signal a few "dummy" events together with an error,
for example it might indicate that a fd is readable or writable, and if
your callbacks is well-written it can just attempt the operation and cope
with the error from read() or write(). This will not work in multithreaded
programs, though, so beware.
In the following description, C<TYPE> stands for the watcher type,
e.g. C<timer> for C<ev_timer> watchers and C<io> for C<ev_io> watchers.
=over 4
=item C<ev_init> (ev_TYPE *watcher, callback)
This macro initialises the generic portion of a watcher. The contents
of the watcher object can be arbitrary (so C<malloc> will do). Only
the generic parts of the watcher are initialised, you I<need> to call
the type-specific C<ev_TYPE_set> macro afterwards to initialise the
type-specific parts. For each type there is also a C<ev_TYPE_init> macro
which rolls both calls into one.
You can reinitialise a watcher at any time as long as it has been stopped
(or never started) and there are no pending events outstanding.
The callback is always of type C<void (*)(ev_loop *loop, ev_TYPE *watcher,
int revents)>.
=item C<ev_TYPE_set> (ev_TYPE *, [args])
This macro initialises the type-specific parts of a watcher. You need to
call C<ev_init> at least once before you call this macro, but you can
call C<ev_TYPE_set> any number of times. You must not, however, call this
macro on a watcher that is active (it can be pending, however, which is a
difference to the C<ev_init> macro).
Although some watcher types do not have type-specific arguments
(e.g. C<ev_prepare>) you still need to call its C<set> macro.
=item C<ev_TYPE_init> (ev_TYPE *watcher, callback, [args])
This convinience macro rolls both C<ev_init> and C<ev_TYPE_set> macro
calls into a single call. This is the most convinient method to initialise
a watcher. The same limitations apply, of course.
=item C<ev_TYPE_start> (loop *, ev_TYPE *watcher)
Starts (activates) the given watcher. Only active watchers will receive
events. If the watcher is already active nothing will happen.
=item C<ev_TYPE_stop> (loop *, ev_TYPE *watcher)
Stops the given watcher again (if active) and clears the pending
status. It is possible that stopped watchers are pending (for example,
non-repeating timers are being stopped when they become pending), but
C<ev_TYPE_stop> ensures that the watcher is neither active nor pending. If
you want to free or reuse the memory used by the watcher it is therefore a
good idea to always call its C<ev_TYPE_stop> function.
=item bool ev_is_active (ev_TYPE *watcher)
Returns a true value iff the watcher is active (i.e. it has been started
and not yet been stopped). As long as a watcher is active you must not modify
=item bool ev_is_pending (ev_TYPE *watcher)
Returns a true value iff the watcher is pending, (i.e. it has outstanding
events but its callback has not yet been invoked). As long as a watcher
is pending (but not active) you must not call an init function on it (but
C<ev_TYPE_set> is safe), you must not change its priority, and you must
make sure the watcher is available to libev (e.g. you cannot C<free ()>
=item callback ev_cb (ev_TYPE *watcher)
Returns the callback currently set on the watcher.
=item ev_cb_set (ev_TYPE *watcher, callback)
Change the callback. You can change the callback at virtually any time
(modulo threads).
=item ev_set_priority (ev_TYPE *watcher, priority)
=item int ev_priority (ev_TYPE *watcher)
Set and query the priority of the watcher. The priority is a small
integer between C<EV_MAXPRI> (default: C<2>) and C<EV_MINPRI>
(default: C<-2>). Pending watchers with higher priority will be invoked
before watchers with lower priority, but priority will not keep watchers
from being executed (except for C<ev_idle> watchers).
This means that priorities are I<only> used for ordering callback
invocation after new events have been received. This is useful, for
example, to reduce latency after idling, or more often, to bind two
watchers on the same event and make sure one is called first.
If you need to suppress invocation when higher priority events are pending
you need to look at C<ev_idle> watchers, which provide this functionality.
You I<must not> change the priority of a watcher as long as it is active or
The default priority used by watchers when no priority has been set is
always C<0>, which is supposed to not be too high and not be too low :).
Setting a priority outside the range of C<EV_MINPRI> to C<EV_MAXPRI> is
fine, as long as you do not mind that the priority value you query might
or might not have been adjusted to be within valid range.
=item ev_invoke (loop, ev_TYPE *watcher, int revents)
Invoke the C<watcher> with the given C<loop> and C<revents>. Neither
C<loop> nor C<revents> need to be valid as long as the watcher callback
can deal with that fact.
=item int ev_clear_pending (loop, ev_TYPE *watcher)
If the watcher is pending, this function returns clears its pending status
and returns its C<revents> bitset (as if its callback was invoked). If the
watcher isn't pending it does nothing and returns C<0>.
Each watcher has, by default, a member C<void *data> that you can change
and read at any time, libev will completely ignore it. This can be used
to associate arbitrary data with your watcher. If you need more data and
don't want to allocate memory and store a pointer to it in that data
member, you can also "subclass" the watcher type and provide your own
struct my_io
struct ev_io io;
int otherfd;
void *somedata;
struct whatever *mostinteresting;
And since your callback will be called with a pointer to the watcher, you
can cast it back to your own type:
static void my_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, struct ev_io *w_, int revents)
struct my_io *w = (struct my_io *)w_;
More interesting and less C-conformant ways of casting your callback type
instead have been omitted.
Another common scenario is having some data structure with multiple
struct my_biggy
int some_data;
ev_timer t1;
ev_timer t2;
In this case getting the pointer to C<my_biggy> is a bit more complicated,
you need to use C<offsetof>:
#include <stddef.h>
static void
t1_cb (EV_P_ struct ev_timer *w, int revents)
struct my_biggy big = (struct my_biggy *
(((char *)w) - offsetof (struct my_biggy, t1));
static void
t2_cb (EV_P_ struct ev_timer *w, int revents)
struct my_biggy big = (struct my_biggy *
(((char *)w) - offsetof (struct my_biggy, t2));
This section describes each watcher in detail, but will not repeat
information given in the last section. Any initialisation/set macros,
functions and members specific to the watcher type are explained.
Members are additionally marked with either I<[read-only]>, meaning that,
while the watcher is active, you can look at the member and expect some
sensible content, but you must not modify it (you can modify it while the
watcher is stopped to your hearts content), or I<[read-write]>, which
means you can expect it to have some sensible content while the watcher
is active, but you can also modify it. Modifying it may not do something
sensible or take immediate effect (or do anything at all), but libev will
not crash or malfunction in any way.
=head2 C<ev_io> - is this file descriptor readable or writable?
I/O watchers check whether a file descriptor is readable or writable
in each iteration of the event loop, or, more precisely, when reading
would not block the process and writing would at least be able to write
some data. This behaviour is called level-triggering because you keep
receiving events as long as the condition persists. Remember you can stop
the watcher if you don't want to act on the event and neither want to
receive future events.
In general you can register as many read and/or write event watchers per
fd as you want (as long as you don't confuse yourself). Setting all file
descriptors to non-blocking mode is also usually a good idea (but not
required if you know what you are doing).
You have to be careful with dup'ed file descriptors, though. Some backends
(the linux epoll backend is a notable example) cannot handle dup'ed file
descriptors correctly if you register interest in two or more fds pointing
to the same underlying file/socket/etc. description (that is, they share
the same underlying "file open").
If you must do this, then force the use of a known-to-be-good backend
(at the time of this writing, this includes only C<EVBACKEND_SELECT> and
Another thing you have to watch out for is that it is quite easy to
receive "spurious" readyness notifications, that is your callback might
be called with C<EV_READ> but a subsequent C<read>(2) will actually block
because there is no data. Not only are some backends known to create a
lot of those (for example solaris ports), it is very easy to get into
this situation even with a relatively standard program structure. Thus
it is best to always use non-blocking I/O: An extra C<read>(2) returning
C<EAGAIN> is far preferable to a program hanging until some data arrives.
If you cannot run the fd in non-blocking mode (for example you should not
play around with an Xlib connection), then you have to seperately re-test
whether a file descriptor is really ready with a known-to-be good interface
such as poll (fortunately in our Xlib example, Xlib already does this on
its own, so its quite safe to use).
=head3 The special problem of disappearing file descriptors
Some backends (e.g. kqueue, epoll) need to be told about closing a file
descriptor (either by calling C<close> explicitly or by any other means,
such as C<dup>). The reason is that you register interest in some file
descriptor, but when it goes away, the operating system will silently drop
this interest. If another file descriptor with the same number then is
registered with libev, there is no efficient way to see that this is, in
fact, a different file descriptor.
To avoid having to explicitly tell libev about such cases, libev follows
the following policy: Each time C<ev_io_set> is being called, libev
will assume that this is potentially a new file descriptor, otherwise
it is assumed that the file descriptor stays the same. That means that
you I<have> to call C<ev_io_set> (or C<ev_io_init>) when you change the
descriptor even if the file descriptor number itself did not change.
This is how one would do it normally anyway, the important point is that
the libev application should not optimise around libev but should leave
optimisations to libev.
=head3 The special problem of dup'ed file descriptors
Some backends (e.g. epoll), cannot register events for file descriptors,
but only events for the underlying file descriptions. That menas when you
have C<dup ()>'ed file descriptors and register events for them, only one
file descriptor might actually receive events.
There is no workaorund possible except not registering events
for potentially C<dup ()>'ed file descriptors or to resort to
=head3 The special problem of fork
Some backends (epoll, kqueue) do not support C<fork ()> at all or exhibit
useless behaviour. Libev fully supports fork, but needs to be told about
it in the child.
To support fork in your programs, you either have to call
C<ev_default_fork ()> or C<ev_loop_fork ()> after a fork in the child,
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions
=over 4
=item ev_io_init (ev_io *, callback, int fd, int events)
=item ev_io_set (ev_io *, int fd, int events)
Configures an C<ev_io> watcher. The C<fd> is the file descriptor to
rceeive events for and events is either C<EV_READ>, C<EV_WRITE> or
C<EV_READ | EV_WRITE> to receive the given events.
=item int fd [read-only]
The file descriptor being watched.
=item int events [read-only]
The events being watched.
Example: Call C<stdin_readable_cb> when STDIN_FILENO has become, well
readable, but only once. Since it is likely line-buffered, you could
attempt to read a whole line in the callback.
static void
stdin_readable_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, struct ev_io *w, int revents)
ev_io_stop (loop, w);
.. read from stdin here (or from w->fd) and haqndle any I/O errors
struct ev_loop *loop = ev_default_init (0);
struct ev_io stdin_readable;
ev_io_init (&stdin_readable, stdin_readable_cb, STDIN_FILENO, EV_READ);
ev_io_start (loop, &stdin_readable);
ev_loop (loop, 0);
=head2 C<ev_timer> - relative and optionally repeating timeouts
Timer watchers are simple relative timers that generate an event after a
given time, and optionally repeating in regular intervals after that.
The timers are based on real time, that is, if you register an event that
times out after an hour and you reset your system clock to last years
time, it will still time out after (roughly) and hour. "Roughly" because
detecting time jumps is hard, and some inaccuracies are unavoidable (the
monotonic clock option helps a lot here).
The relative timeouts are calculated relative to the C<ev_now ()>
time. This is usually the right thing as this timestamp refers to the time
of the event triggering whatever timeout you are modifying/starting. If
you suspect event processing to be delayed and you I<need> to base the timeout
on the current time, use something like this to adjust for this:
ev_timer_set (&timer, after + ev_now () - ev_time (), 0.);
The callback is guarenteed to be invoked only when its timeout has passed,
but if multiple timers become ready during the same loop iteration then
order of execution is undefined.
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_timer_init (ev_timer *, callback, ev_tstamp after, ev_tstamp repeat)
=item ev_timer_set (ev_timer *, ev_tstamp after, ev_tstamp repeat)
Configure the timer to trigger after C<after> seconds. If C<repeat> is
C<0.>, then it will automatically be stopped. If it is positive, then the
timer will automatically be configured to trigger again C<repeat> seconds
later, again, and again, until stopped manually.
The timer itself will do a best-effort at avoiding drift, that is, if you
configure a timer to trigger every 10 seconds, then it will trigger at
exactly 10 second intervals. If, however, your program cannot keep up with
the timer (because it takes longer than those 10 seconds to do stuff) the
timer will not fire more than once per event loop iteration.
=item ev_timer_again (loop)
This will act as if the timer timed out and restart it again if it is
repeating. The exact semantics are:
If the timer is pending, its pending status is cleared.
If the timer is started but nonrepeating, stop it (as if it timed out).
If the timer is repeating, either start it if necessary (with the
C<repeat> value), or reset the running timer to the C<repeat> value.
This sounds a bit complicated, but here is a useful and typical
example: Imagine you have a tcp connection and you want a so-called idle
timeout, that is, you want to be called when there have been, say, 60
seconds of inactivity on the socket. The easiest way to do this is to
configure an C<ev_timer> with a C<repeat> value of C<60> and then call
C<ev_timer_again> each time you successfully read or write some data. If
you go into an idle state where you do not expect data to travel on the
socket, you can C<ev_timer_stop> the timer, and C<ev_timer_again> will
automatically restart it if need be.
That means you can ignore the C<after> value and C<ev_timer_start>
altogether and only ever use the C<repeat> value and C<ev_timer_again>:
ev_timer_init (timer, callback, 0., 5.);
ev_timer_again (loop, timer);
timer->again = 17.;
ev_timer_again (loop, timer);
timer->again = 10.;
ev_timer_again (loop, timer);
This is more slightly efficient then stopping/starting the timer each time
you want to modify its timeout value.
=item ev_tstamp repeat [read-write]
The current C<repeat> value. Will be used each time the watcher times out
or C<ev_timer_again> is called and determines the next timeout (if any),
which is also when any modifications are taken into account.
Example: Create a timer that fires after 60 seconds.
static void
one_minute_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, struct ev_timer *w, int revents)
.. one minute over, w is actually stopped right here
struct ev_timer mytimer;
ev_timer_init (&mytimer, one_minute_cb, 60., 0.);
ev_timer_start (loop, &mytimer);
Example: Create a timeout timer that times out after 10 seconds of
static void
timeout_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, struct ev_timer *w, int revents)
.. ten seconds without any activity
struct ev_timer mytimer;
ev_timer_init (&mytimer, timeout_cb, 0., 10.); /* note, only repeat used */
ev_timer_again (&mytimer); /* start timer */
ev_loop (loop, 0);
// and in some piece of code that gets executed on any "activity":
// reset the timeout to start ticking again at 10 seconds
ev_timer_again (&mytimer);
=head2 C<ev_periodic> - to cron or not to cron?
Periodic watchers are also timers of a kind, but they are very versatile
(and unfortunately a bit complex).
Unlike C<ev_timer>'s, they are not based on real time (or relative time)
but on wallclock time (absolute time). You can tell a periodic watcher
to trigger "at" some specific point in time. For example, if you tell a
periodic watcher to trigger in 10 seconds (by specifiying e.g. C<ev_now ()
+ 10.>) and then reset your system clock to the last year, then it will
take a year to trigger the event (unlike an C<ev_timer>, which would trigger
roughly 10 seconds later).
They can also be used to implement vastly more complex timers, such as
triggering an event on each midnight, local time or other, complicated,
As with timers, the callback is guarenteed to be invoked only when the
time (C<at>) has been passed, but if multiple periodic timers become ready
during the same loop iteration then order of execution is undefined.
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_periodic_init (ev_periodic *, callback, ev_tstamp at, ev_tstamp interval, reschedule_cb)
=item ev_periodic_set (ev_periodic *, ev_tstamp after, ev_tstamp repeat, reschedule_cb)
Lots of arguments, lets sort it out... There are basically three modes of
operation, and we will explain them from simplest to complex:
=over 4
=item * absolute timer (at = time, interval = reschedule_cb = 0)
In this configuration the watcher triggers an event at the wallclock time
C<at> and doesn't repeat. It will not adjust when a time jump occurs,
that is, if it is to be run at January 1st 2011 then it will run when the
system time reaches or surpasses this time.
=item * non-repeating interval timer (at = offset, interval > 0, reschedule_cb = 0)
In this mode the watcher will always be scheduled to time out at the next
C<at + N * interval> time (for some integer N, which can also be negative)
and then repeat, regardless of any time jumps.
This can be used to create timers that do not drift with respect to system
ev_periodic_set (&periodic, 0., 3600., 0);
This doesn't mean there will always be 3600 seconds in between triggers,
but only that the the callback will be called when the system time shows a
full hour (UTC), or more correctly, when the system time is evenly divisible
by 3600.
Another way to think about it (for the mathematically inclined) is that
C<ev_periodic> will try to run the callback in this mode at the next possible
time where C<time = at (mod interval)>, regardless of any time jumps.
For numerical stability it is preferable that the C<at> value is near
C<ev_now ()> (the current time), but there is no range requirement for
this value.
=item * manual reschedule mode (at and interval ignored, reschedule_cb = callback)
In this mode the values for C<interval> and C<at> are both being
ignored. Instead, each time the periodic watcher gets scheduled, the
reschedule callback will be called with the watcher as first, and the
current time as second argument.
NOTE: I<This callback MUST NOT stop or destroy any periodic watcher,
ever, or make any event loop modifications>. If you need to stop it,
return C<now + 1e30> (or so, fudge fudge) and stop it afterwards (e.g. by
starting an C<ev_prepare> watcher, which is legal).
Its prototype is C<ev_tstamp (*reschedule_cb)(struct ev_periodic *w,
ev_tstamp now)>, e.g.:
static ev_tstamp my_rescheduler (struct ev_periodic *w, ev_tstamp now)
return now + 60.;
It must return the next time to trigger, based on the passed time value
(that is, the lowest time value larger than to the second argument). It
will usually be called just before the callback will be triggered, but
might be called at other times, too.
NOTE: I<< This callback must always return a time that is later than the
passed C<now> value >>. Not even C<now> itself will do, it I<must> be larger.
This can be used to create very complex timers, such as a timer that
triggers on each midnight, local time. To do this, you would calculate the
next midnight after C<now> and return the timestamp value for this. How
you do this is, again, up to you (but it is not trivial, which is the main
reason I omitted it as an example).
=item ev_periodic_again (loop, ev_periodic *)
Simply stops and restarts the periodic watcher again. This is only useful
when you changed some parameters or the reschedule callback would return
a different time than the last time it was called (e.g. in a crond like
program when the crontabs have changed).
=item ev_tstamp offset [read-write]
When repeating, this contains the offset value, otherwise this is the
absolute point in time (the C<at> value passed to C<ev_periodic_set>).
Can be modified any time, but changes only take effect when the periodic
timer fires or C<ev_periodic_again> is being called.
=item ev_tstamp interval [read-write]
The current interval value. Can be modified any time, but changes only
take effect when the periodic timer fires or C<ev_periodic_again> is being
=item ev_tstamp (*reschedule_cb)(struct ev_periodic *w, ev_tstamp now) [read-write]
The current reschedule callback, or C<0>, if this functionality is
switched off. Can be changed any time, but changes only take effect when
the periodic timer fires or C<ev_periodic_again> is being called.
=item ev_tstamp at [read-only]
When active, contains the absolute time that the watcher is supposed to
trigger next.
Example: Call a callback every hour, or, more precisely, whenever the
system clock is divisible by 3600. The callback invocation times have
potentially a lot of jittering, but good long-term stability.
static void
clock_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, struct ev_io *w, int revents)
... its now a full hour (UTC, or TAI or whatever your clock follows)
struct ev_periodic hourly_tick;
ev_periodic_init (&hourly_tick, clock_cb, 0., 3600., 0);
ev_periodic_start (loop, &hourly_tick);
Example: The same as above, but use a reschedule callback to do it:
#include <math.h>
static ev_tstamp
my_scheduler_cb (struct ev_periodic *w, ev_tstamp now)
return fmod (now, 3600.) + 3600.;
ev_periodic_init (&hourly_tick, clock_cb, 0., 0., my_scheduler_cb);
Example: Call a callback every hour, starting now:
struct ev_periodic hourly_tick;
ev_periodic_init (&hourly_tick, clock_cb,
fmod (ev_now (loop), 3600.), 3600., 0);
ev_periodic_start (loop, &hourly_tick);
=head2 C<ev_signal> - signal me when a signal gets signalled!
Signal watchers will trigger an event when the process receives a specific
signal one or more times. Even though signals are very asynchronous, libev
will try it's best to deliver signals synchronously, i.e. as part of the
normal event processing, like any other event.
You can configure as many watchers as you like per signal. Only when the
first watcher gets started will libev actually register a signal watcher
with the kernel (thus it coexists with your own signal handlers as long
as you don't register any with libev). Similarly, when the last signal
watcher for a signal is stopped libev will reset the signal handler to
SIG_DFL (regardless of what it was set to before).
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_signal_init (ev_signal *, callback, int signum)
=item ev_signal_set (ev_signal *, int signum)
Configures the watcher to trigger on the given signal number (usually one
of the C<SIGxxx> constants).
=item int signum [read-only]
The signal the watcher watches out for.
=head2 C<ev_child> - watch out for process status changes
Child watchers trigger when your process receives a SIGCHLD in response to
some child status changes (most typically when a child of yours dies).
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_child_init (ev_child *, callback, int pid)
=item ev_child_set (ev_child *, int pid)
Configures the watcher to wait for status changes of process C<pid> (or
I<any> process if C<pid> is specified as C<0>). The callback can look
at the C<rstatus> member of the C<ev_child> watcher structure to see
the status word (use the macros from C<sys/wait.h> and see your systems
C<waitpid> documentation). The C<rpid> member contains the pid of the
process causing the status change.
=item int pid [read-only]
The process id this watcher watches out for, or C<0>, meaning any process id.
=item int rpid [read-write]
The process id that detected a status change.
=item int rstatus [read-write]
The process exit/trace status caused by C<rpid> (see your systems
C<waitpid> and C<sys/wait.h> documentation for details).
Example: Try to exit cleanly on SIGINT and SIGTERM.
static void
sigint_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, struct ev_signal *w, int revents)
ev_unloop (loop, EVUNLOOP_ALL);
struct ev_signal signal_watcher;
ev_signal_init (&signal_watcher, sigint_cb, SIGINT);
ev_signal_start (loop, &sigint_cb);
=head2 C<ev_stat> - did the file attributes just change?
This watches a filesystem path for attribute changes. That is, it calls
C<stat> regularly (or when the OS says it changed) and sees if it changed
compared to the last time, invoking the callback if it did.
The path does not need to exist: changing from "path exists" to "path does
not exist" is a status change like any other. The condition "path does
not exist" is signified by the C<st_nlink> field being zero (which is
otherwise always forced to be at least one) and all the other fields of
the stat buffer having unspecified contents.
The path I<should> be absolute and I<must not> end in a slash. If it is
relative and your working directory changes, the behaviour is undefined.
Since there is no standard to do this, the portable implementation simply
calls C<stat (2)> regularly on the path to see if it changed somehow. You
can specify a recommended polling interval for this case. If you specify
a polling interval of C<0> (highly recommended!) then a I<suitable,
unspecified default> value will be used (which you can expect to be around
five seconds, although this might change dynamically). Libev will also
impose a minimum interval which is currently around C<0.1>, but thats
usually overkill.
This watcher type is not meant for massive numbers of stat watchers,
as even with OS-supported change notifications, this can be
At the time of this writing, only the Linux inotify interface is
implemented (implementing kqueue support is left as an exercise for the
reader). Inotify will be used to give hints only and should not change the
semantics of C<ev_stat> watchers, which means that libev sometimes needs
to fall back to regular polling again even with inotify, but changes are
usually detected immediately, and if the file exists there will be no
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_stat_init (ev_stat *, callback, const char *path, ev_tstamp interval)
=item ev_stat_set (ev_stat *, const char *path, ev_tstamp interval)
Configures the watcher to wait for status changes of the given
C<path>. The C<interval> is a hint on how quickly a change is expected to
be detected and should normally be specified as C<0> to let libev choose
a suitable value. The memory pointed to by C<path> must point to the same
path for as long as the watcher is active.
The callback will be receive C<EV_STAT> when a change was detected,
relative to the attributes at the time the watcher was started (or the
last change was detected).
=item ev_stat_stat (ev_stat *)
Updates the stat buffer immediately with new values. If you change the
watched path in your callback, you could call this fucntion to avoid
detecting this change (while introducing a race condition). Can also be
useful simply to find out the new values.
=item ev_statdata attr [read-only]
The most-recently detected attributes of the file. Although the type is of
C<ev_statdata>, this is usually the (or one of the) C<struct stat> types
suitable for your system. If the C<st_nlink> member is C<0>, then there
was some error while C<stat>ing the file.
=item ev_statdata prev [read-only]
The previous attributes of the file. The callback gets invoked whenever
C<prev> != C<attr>.
=item ev_tstamp interval [read-only]
The specified interval.
=item const char *path [read-only]
The filesystem path that is being watched.
Example: Watch C</etc/passwd> for attribute changes.
static void
passwd_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, ev_stat *w, int revents)
/* /etc/passwd changed in some way */
if (w->attr.st_nlink)
printf ("passwd current size %ld\n", (long)w->attr.st_size);
printf ("passwd current atime %ld\n", (long)w->attr.st_mtime);
printf ("passwd current mtime %ld\n", (long)w->attr.st_mtime);
/* you shalt not abuse printf for puts */
puts ("wow, /etc/passwd is not there, expect problems. "
"if this is windows, they already arrived\n");
ev_stat passwd;
ev_stat_init (&passwd, passwd_cb, "/etc/passwd");
ev_stat_start (loop, &passwd);
=head2 C<ev_idle> - when you've got nothing better to do...
Idle watchers trigger events when no other events of the same or higher
priority are pending (prepare, check and other idle watchers do not
That is, as long as your process is busy handling sockets or timeouts
(or even signals, imagine) of the same or higher priority it will not be
triggered. But when your process is idle (or only lower-priority watchers
are pending), the idle watchers are being called once per event loop
iteration - until stopped, that is, or your process receives more events
and becomes busy again with higher priority stuff.
The most noteworthy effect is that as long as any idle watchers are
active, the process will not block when waiting for new events.
Apart from keeping your process non-blocking (which is a useful
effect on its own sometimes), idle watchers are a good place to do
"pseudo-background processing", or delay processing stuff to after the
event loop has handled all outstanding events.
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_idle_init (ev_signal *, callback)
Initialises and configures the idle watcher - it has no parameters of any
kind. There is a C<ev_idle_set> macro, but using it is utterly pointless,
believe me.
Example: Dynamically allocate an C<ev_idle> watcher, start it, and in the
callback, free it. Also, use no error checking, as usual.
static void
idle_cb (struct ev_loop *loop, struct ev_idle *w, int revents)
free (w);
// now do something you wanted to do when the program has
// no longer asnything immediate to do.
struct ev_idle *idle_watcher = malloc (sizeof (struct ev_idle));
ev_idle_init (idle_watcher, idle_cb);
ev_idle_start (loop, idle_cb);
=head2 C<ev_prepare> and C<ev_check> - customise your event loop!
Prepare and check watchers are usually (but not always) used in tandem:
prepare watchers get invoked before the process blocks and check watchers
You I<must not> call C<ev_loop> or similar functions that enter
the current event loop from either C<ev_prepare> or C<ev_check>
watchers. Other loops than the current one are fine, however. The
rationale behind this is that you do not need to check for recursion in
those watchers, i.e. the sequence will always be C<ev_prepare>, blocking,
C<ev_check> so if you have one watcher of each kind they will always be
called in pairs bracketing the blocking call.
Their main purpose is to integrate other event mechanisms into libev and
their use is somewhat advanced. This could be used, for example, to track
variable changes, implement your own watchers, integrate net-snmp or a
coroutine library and lots more. They are also occasionally useful if
you cache some data and want to flush it before blocking (for example,
in X programs you might want to do an C<XFlush ()> in an C<ev_prepare>
This is done by examining in each prepare call which file descriptors need
to be watched by the other library, registering C<ev_io> watchers for
them and starting an C<ev_timer> watcher for any timeouts (many libraries
provide just this functionality). Then, in the check watcher you check for
any events that occured (by checking the pending status of all watchers
and stopping them) and call back into the library. The I/O and timer
callbacks will never actually be called (but must be valid nevertheless,
because you never know, you know?).
As another example, the Perl Coro module uses these hooks to integrate
coroutines into libev programs, by yielding to other active coroutines
during each prepare and only letting the process block if no coroutines
are ready to run (it's actually more complicated: it only runs coroutines
with priority higher than or equal to the event loop and one coroutine
of lower priority, but only once, using idle watchers to keep the event
loop from blocking if lower-priority coroutines are active, thus mapping
low-priority coroutines to idle/background tasks).
It is recommended to give C<ev_check> watchers highest (C<EV_MAXPRI>)
priority, to ensure that they are being run before any other watchers
after the poll. Also, C<ev_check> watchers (and C<ev_prepare> watchers,
too) should not activate ("feed") events into libev. While libev fully
supports this, they will be called before other C<ev_check> watchers did
their job. As C<ev_check> watchers are often used to embed other event
loops those other event loops might be in an unusable state until their
C<ev_check> watcher ran (always remind yourself to coexist peacefully with
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_prepare_init (ev_prepare *, callback)
=item ev_check_init (ev_check *, callback)
Initialises and configures the prepare or check watcher - they have no
parameters of any kind. There are C<ev_prepare_set> and C<ev_check_set>
macros, but using them is utterly, utterly and completely pointless.
There are a number of principal ways to embed other event loops or modules
into libev. Here are some ideas on how to include libadns into libev
(there is a Perl module named C<EV::ADNS> that does this, which you could
use for an actually working example. Another Perl module named C<EV::Glib>
embeds a Glib main context into libev, and finally, C<Glib::EV> embeds EV
into the Glib event loop).
Method 1: Add IO watchers and a timeout watcher in a prepare handler,
and in a check watcher, destroy them and call into libadns. What follows
is pseudo-code only of course. This requires you to either use a low
priority for the check watcher or use C<ev_clear_pending> explicitly, as
the callbacks for the IO/timeout watchers might not have been called yet.
static ev_io iow [nfd];
static ev_timer tw;
static void
io_cb (ev_loop *loop, ev_io *w, int revents)
// create io watchers for each fd and a timer before blocking
static void
adns_prepare_cb (ev_loop *loop, ev_prepare *w, int revents)
int timeout = 3600000;
struct pollfd fds [nfd];
// actual code will need to loop here and realloc etc.
adns_beforepoll (ads, fds, &nfd, &timeout, timeval_from (ev_time ()));
/* the callback is illegal, but won't be called as we stop during check */
ev_timer_init (&tw, 0, timeout * 1e-3);
ev_timer_start (loop, &tw);
// create one ev_io per pollfd
for (int i = 0; i < nfd; ++i)
ev_io_init (iow + i, io_cb, fds [i].fd,
((fds [i].events & POLLIN ? EV_READ : 0)
| (fds [i].events & POLLOUT ? EV_WRITE : 0)));
fds [i].revents = 0;
ev_io_start (loop, iow + i);
// stop all watchers after blocking
static void
adns_check_cb (ev_loop *loop, ev_check *w, int revents)
ev_timer_stop (loop, &tw);
for (int i = 0; i < nfd; ++i)
// set the relevant poll flags
// could also call adns_processreadable etc. here
struct pollfd *fd = fds + i;
int revents = ev_clear_pending (iow + i);
if (revents & EV_READ ) fd->revents |= fd->events & POLLIN;
if (revents & EV_WRITE) fd->revents |= fd->events & POLLOUT;
// now stop the watcher
ev_io_stop (loop, iow + i);
adns_afterpoll (adns, fds, nfd, timeval_from (ev_now (loop));
Method 2: This would be just like method 1, but you run C<adns_afterpoll>
in the prepare watcher and would dispose of the check watcher.
Method 3: If the module to be embedded supports explicit event
notification (adns does), you can also make use of the actual watcher
callbacks, and only destroy/create the watchers in the prepare watcher.
static void
timer_cb (EV_P_ ev_timer *w, int revents)
adns_state ads = (adns_state)w->data;
update_now (EV_A);
adns_processtimeouts (ads, &tv_now);
static void
io_cb (EV_P_ ev_io *w, int revents)
adns_state ads = (adns_state)w->data;
update_now (EV_A);
if (revents & EV_READ ) adns_processreadable (ads, w->fd, &tv_now);
if (revents & EV_WRITE) adns_processwriteable (ads, w->fd, &tv_now);
// do not ever call adns_afterpoll
Method 4: Do not use a prepare or check watcher because the module you
want to embed is too inflexible to support it. Instead, youc na override
their poll function. The drawback with this solution is that the main
loop is now no longer controllable by EV. The C<Glib::EV> module does
static gint
event_poll_func (GPollFD *fds, guint nfds, gint timeout)
int got_events = 0;
for (n = 0; n < nfds; ++n)
// create/start io watcher that sets the relevant bits in fds[n] and increment got_events
if (timeout >= 0)
// create/start timer
// poll
ev_loop (EV_A_ 0);
// stop timer again
if (timeout >= 0)
ev_timer_stop (EV_A_ &to);
// stop io watchers again - their callbacks should have set
for (n = 0; n < nfds; ++n)
ev_io_stop (EV_A_ iow [n]);
return got_events;
=head2 C<ev_embed> - when one backend isn't enough...
This is a rather advanced watcher type that lets you embed one event loop
into another (currently only C<ev_io> events are supported in the embedded
loop, other types of watchers might be handled in a delayed or incorrect
fashion and must not be used). (See portability notes, below).
There are primarily two reasons you would want that: work around bugs and
prioritise I/O.
As an example for a bug workaround, the kqueue backend might only support
sockets on some platform, so it is unusable as generic backend, but you
still want to make use of it because you have many sockets and it scales
so nicely. In this case, you would create a kqueue-based loop and embed it
into your default loop (which might use e.g. poll). Overall operation will
be a bit slower because first libev has to poll and then call kevent, but
at least you can use both at what they are best.
As for prioritising I/O: rarely you have the case where some fds have
to be watched and handled very quickly (with low latency), and even
priorities and idle watchers might have too much overhead. In this case
you would put all the high priority stuff in one loop and all the rest in
a second one, and embed the second one in the first.
As long as the watcher is active, the callback will be invoked every time
there might be events pending in the embedded loop. The callback must then
call C<ev_embed_sweep (mainloop, watcher)> to make a single sweep and invoke
their callbacks (you could also start an idle watcher to give the embedded
loop strictly lower priority for example). You can also set the callback
to C<0>, in which case the embed watcher will automatically execute the
embedded loop sweep.
As long as the watcher is started it will automatically handle events. The
callback will be invoked whenever some events have been handled. You can
set the callback to C<0> to avoid having to specify one if you are not
interested in that.
Also, there have not currently been made special provisions for forking:
when you fork, you not only have to call C<ev_loop_fork> on both loops,
but you will also have to stop and restart any C<ev_embed> watchers
Unfortunately, not all backends are embeddable, only the ones returned by
C<ev_embeddable_backends> are, which, unfortunately, does not include any
portable one.
So when you want to use this feature you will always have to be prepared
that you cannot get an embeddable loop. The recommended way to get around
this is to have a separate variables for your embeddable loop, try to
create it, and if that fails, use the normal loop for everything:
struct ev_loop *loop_hi = ev_default_init (0);
struct ev_loop *loop_lo = 0;
struct ev_embed embed;
// see if there is a chance of getting one that works
// (remember that a flags value of 0 means autodetection)
loop_lo = ev_embeddable_backends () & ev_recommended_backends ()
? ev_loop_new (ev_embeddable_backends () & ev_recommended_backends ())
: 0;
// if we got one, then embed it, otherwise default to loop_hi
if (loop_lo)
ev_embed_init (&embed, 0, loop_lo);
ev_embed_start (loop_hi, &embed);
loop_lo = loop_hi;
=head2 Portability notes
Kqueue is nominally embeddable, but this is broken on all BSDs that I
tried, in various ways. Usually the embedded event loop will simply never
receive events, sometimes it will only trigger a few times, sometimes in a
loop. Epoll is also nominally embeddable, but many Linux kernel versions
will always eport the epoll fd as ready, even when no events are pending.
While libev allows embedding these backends (they are contained in
C<ev_embeddable_backends ()>), take extreme care that it will actually
When in doubt, create a dynamic event loop forced to use sockets (this
usually works) and possibly another thread and a pipe or so to report to
your main event loop.
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_embed_init (ev_embed *, callback, struct ev_loop *embedded_loop)
=item ev_embed_set (ev_embed *, callback, struct ev_loop *embedded_loop)
Configures the watcher to embed the given loop, which must be
embeddable. If the callback is C<0>, then C<ev_embed_sweep> will be
invoked automatically, otherwise it is the responsibility of the callback
to invoke it (it will continue to be called until the sweep has been done,
if you do not want thta, you need to temporarily stop the embed watcher).
=item ev_embed_sweep (loop, ev_embed *)
Make a single, non-blocking sweep over the embedded loop. This works
similarly to C<ev_loop (embedded_loop, EVLOOP_NONBLOCK)>, but in the most
apropriate way for embedded loops.
=item struct ev_loop *other [read-only]
The embedded event loop.
=head2 C<ev_fork> - the audacity to resume the event loop after a fork
Fork watchers are called when a C<fork ()> was detected (usually because
whoever is a good citizen cared to tell libev about it by calling
C<ev_default_fork> or C<ev_loop_fork>). The invocation is done before the
event loop blocks next and before C<ev_check> watchers are being called,
and only in the child after the fork. If whoever good citizen calling
C<ev_default_fork> cheats and calls it in the wrong process, the fork
handlers will be invoked, too, of course.
=head3 Watcher-Specific Functions and Data Members
=over 4
=item ev_fork_init (ev_signal *, callback)
Initialises and configures the fork watcher - it has no parameters of any
kind. There is a C<ev_fork_set> macro, but using it is utterly pointless,
believe me.
There are some other functions of possible interest. Described. Here. Now.
=over 4
=item ev_once (loop, int fd, int events, ev_tstamp timeout, callback)
This function combines a simple timer and an I/O watcher, calls your
callback on whichever event happens first and automatically stop both
watchers. This is useful if you want to wait for a single event on an fd
or timeout without having to allocate/configure/start/stop/free one or
more watchers yourself.
If C<fd> is less than 0, then no I/O watcher will be started and events
is being ignored. Otherwise, an C<ev_io> watcher for the given C<fd> and
C<events> set will be craeted and started.
If C<timeout> is less than 0, then no timeout watcher will be
started. Otherwise an C<ev_timer> watcher with after = C<timeout> (and
repeat = 0) will be started. While C<0> is a valid timeout, it is of
dubious value.
The callback has the type C<void (*cb)(int revents, void *arg)> and gets
passed an C<revents> set like normal event callbacks (a combination of
C<EV_ERROR>, C<EV_READ>, C<EV_WRITE> or C<EV_TIMEOUT>) and the C<arg>
value passed to C<ev_once>:
static void stdin_ready (int revents, void *arg)
if (revents & EV_TIMEOUT)
/* doh, nothing entered */;
else if (revents & EV_READ)
/* stdin might have data for us, joy! */;
ev_once (STDIN_FILENO, EV_READ, 10., stdin_ready, 0);
=item ev_feed_event (ev_loop *, watcher *, int revents)
Feeds the given event set into the event loop, as if the specified event
had happened for the specified watcher (which must be a pointer to an
initialised but not necessarily started event watcher).
=item ev_feed_fd_event (ev_loop *, int fd, int revents)
Feed an event on the given fd, as if a file descriptor backend detected
the given events it.
=item ev_feed_signal_event (ev_loop *loop, int signum)
Feed an event as if the given signal occured (C<loop> must be the default
Libev offers a compatibility emulation layer for libevent. It cannot
emulate the internals of libevent, so here are some usage hints:
=over 4
=item * Use it by including <event.h>, as usual.
=item * The following members are fully supported: ev_base, ev_callback,
ev_arg, ev_fd, ev_res, ev_events.
=item * Avoid using ev_flags and the EVLIST_*-macros, while it is
maintained by libev, it does not work exactly the same way as in libevent (consider
it a private API).
=item * Priorities are not currently supported. Initialising priorities
will fail and all watchers will have the same priority, even though there
is an ev_pri field.
=item * Other members are not supported.
=item * The libev emulation is I<not> ABI compatible to libevent, you need
to use the libev header file and library.
=head1 C++ SUPPORT
Libev comes with some simplistic wrapper classes for C++ that mainly allow
you to use some convinience methods to start/stop watchers and also change
the callback model to a model using method callbacks on objects.
To use it,
#include <ev++.h>
This automatically includes F<ev.h> and puts all of its definitions (many
of them macros) into the global namespace. All C++ specific things are
put into the C<ev> namespace. It should support all the same embedding
options as F<ev.h>, most notably C<EV_MULTIPLICITY>.
Care has been taken to keep the overhead low. The only data member the C++
classes add (compared to plain C-style watchers) is the event loop pointer
that the watcher is associated with (or no additional members at all if
you disable C<EV_MULTIPLICITY> when embedding libev).
Currently, functions, and static and non-static member functions can be
used as callbacks. Other types should be easy to add as long as they only
need one additional pointer for context. If you need support for other
types of functors please contact the author (preferably after implementing
Here is a list of things available in the C<ev> namespace:
=over 4
=item C<ev::READ>, C<ev::WRITE> etc.
These are just enum values with the same values as the C<EV_READ> etc.
macros from F<ev.h>.
=item C<ev::tstamp>, C<ev::now>
Aliases to the same types/functions as with the C<ev_> prefix.
=item C<ev::io>, C<ev::timer>, C<ev::periodic>, C<ev::idle>, C<ev::sig> etc.
For each C<ev_TYPE> watcher in F<ev.h> there is a corresponding class of
the same name in the C<ev> namespace, with the exception of C<ev_signal>
which is called C<ev::sig> to avoid clashes with the C<signal> macro
defines by many implementations.
All of those classes have these methods:
=over 4
=item ev::TYPE::TYPE ()
=item ev::TYPE::TYPE (struct ev_loop *)
=item ev::TYPE::~TYPE
The constructor (optionally) takes an event loop to associate the watcher
with. If it is omitted, it will use C<EV_DEFAULT>.
The constructor calls C<ev_init> for you, which means you have to call the
C<set> method before starting it.
It will not set a callback, however: You have to call the templated C<set>
method to set a callback before you can start the watcher.
(The reason why you have to use a method is a limitation in C++ which does
not allow explicit template arguments for constructors).
The destructor automatically stops the watcher if it is active.
=item w->set<class, &class::method> (object *)
This method sets the callback method to call. The method has to have a
signature of C<void (*)(ev_TYPE &, int)>, it receives the watcher as
first argument and the C<revents> as second. The object must be given as
parameter and is stored in the C<data> member of the watcher.
This method synthesizes efficient thunking code to call your method from
the C callback that libev requires. If your compiler can inline your
callback (i.e. it is visible to it at the place of the C<set> call and
your compiler is good :), then the method will be fully inlined into the
thunking function, making it as fast as a direct C callback.
Example: simple class declaration and watcher initialisation
struct myclass
void io_cb (ev::io &w, int revents) { }
myclass obj;
ev::io iow;
iow.set <myclass, &myclass::io_cb> (&obj);
=item w->set<function> (void *data = 0)
Also sets a callback, but uses a static method or plain function as
callback. The optional C<data> argument will be stored in the watcher's
C<data> member and is free for you to use.
The prototype of the C<function> must be C<void (*)(ev::TYPE &w, int)>.
See the method-C<set> above for more details.
static void io_cb (ev::io &w, int revents) { }
iow.set <io_cb> ();
=item w->set (struct ev_loop *)
Associates a different C<struct ev_loop> with this watcher. You can only
do this when the watcher is inactive (and not pending either).
=item w->set ([args])
Basically the same as C<ev_TYPE_set>, with the same args. Must be
called at least once. Unlike the C counterpart, an active watcher gets
automatically stopped and restarted when reconfiguring it with this
=item w->start ()
Starts the watcher. Note that there is no C<loop> argument, as the
constructor already stores the event loop.
=item w->stop ()
Stops the watcher if it is active. Again, no C<loop> argument.
=item w->again () (C<ev::timer>, C<ev::periodic> only)
For C<ev::timer> and C<ev::periodic>, this invokes the corresponding
C<ev_TYPE_again> function.
=item w->sweep () (C<ev::embed> only)
Invokes C<ev_embed_sweep>.
=item w->update () (C<ev::stat> only)
Invokes C<ev_stat_stat>.
Example: Define a class with an IO and idle watcher, start one of them in
the constructor.
class myclass
ev_io io; void io_cb (ev::io &w, int revents);
ev_idle idle void idle_cb (ev::idle &w, int revents);
myclass ();
myclass::myclass (int fd)
io .set <myclass, &myclass::io_cb > (this);
idle.set <myclass, &myclass::idle_cb> (this);
io.start (fd, ev::READ);
Libev can be compiled with a variety of options, the most fundamantal
of which is C<EV_MULTIPLICITY>. This option determines whether (most)
functions and callbacks have an initial C<struct ev_loop *> argument.
To make it easier to write programs that cope with either variant, the
following macros are defined:
=over 4
=item C<EV_A>, C<EV_A_>
This provides the loop I<argument> for functions, if one is required ("ev
loop argument"). The C<EV_A> form is used when this is the sole argument,
C<EV_A_> is used when other arguments are following. Example:
ev_unref (EV_A);
ev_timer_add (EV_A_ watcher);
ev_loop (EV_A_ 0);
It assumes the variable C<loop> of type C<struct ev_loop *> is in scope,
which is often provided by the following macro.
=item C<EV_P>, C<EV_P_>
This provides the loop I<parameter> for functions, if one is required ("ev
loop parameter"). The C<EV_P> form is used when this is the sole parameter,
C<EV_P_> is used when other parameters are following. Example:
// this is how ev_unref is being declared
static void ev_unref (EV_P);
// this is how you can declare your typical callback
static void cb (EV_P_ ev_timer *w, int revents)
It declares a parameter C<loop> of type C<struct ev_loop *>, quite
suitable for use with C<EV_A>.
Similar to the other two macros, this gives you the value of the default
loop, if multiple loops are supported ("ev loop default").
Example: Declare and initialise a check watcher, utilising the above
macros so it will work regardless of whether multiple loops are supported
or not.
static void
check_cb (EV_P_ ev_timer *w, int revents)
ev_check_stop (EV_A_ w);
ev_check check;
ev_check_init (&check, check_cb);
ev_check_start (EV_DEFAULT_ &check);
ev_loop (EV_DEFAULT_ 0);
Libev can (and often is) directly embedded into host
applications. Examples of applications that embed it include the Deliantra
Game Server, the EV perl module, the GNU Virtual Private Ethernet (gvpe)
and rxvt-unicode.
The goal is to enable you to just copy the necessary files into your
source directory without having to change even a single line in them, so
you can easily upgrade by simply copying (or having a checked-out copy of
libev somewhere in your source tree).
Depending on what features you need you need to include one or more sets of files
in your app.
To include only the libev core (all the C<ev_*> functions), with manual
configuration (no autoconf):
#include "ev.c"
This will automatically include F<ev.h>, too, and should be done in a
single C source file only to provide the function implementations. To use
it, do the same for F<ev.h> in all files wishing to use this API (best
done by writing a wrapper around F<ev.h> that you can include instead and
where you can put other configuration options):
#include "ev.h"
Both header files and implementation files can be compiled with a C++
compiler (at least, thats a stated goal, and breakage will be treated
as a bug).
You need the following files in your source tree, or in a directory
in your include path (e.g. in libev/ when using -Ilibev):
ev_win32.c required on win32 platforms only
ev_select.c only when select backend is enabled (which is enabled by default)
ev_poll.c only when poll backend is enabled (disabled by default)
ev_epoll.c only when the epoll backend is enabled (disabled by default)
ev_kqueue.c only when the kqueue backend is enabled (disabled by default)
ev_port.c only when the solaris port backend is enabled (disabled by default)
F<ev.c> includes the backend files directly when enabled, so you only need
to compile this single file.
To include the libevent compatibility API, also include:
#include "event.c"
in the file including F<ev.c>, and:
#include "event.h"
in the files that want to use the libevent API. This also includes F<ev.h>.
You need the following additional files for this:
Instead of using C<EV_STANDALONE=1> and providing your config in
whatever way you want, you can also C<m4_include([libev.m4])> in your
F<> and leave C<EV_STANDALONE> undefined. F<ev.c> will then
include F<config.h> and configure itself accordingly.
For this of course you need the m4 file:
Libev can be configured via a variety of preprocessor symbols you have to define
before including any of its files. The default is not to build for multiplicity
and only include the select backend.
=over 4
Must always be C<1> if you do not use autoconf configuration, which
keeps libev from including F<config.h>, and it also defines dummy
implementations for some libevent functions (such as logging, which is not
supported). It will also not define any of the structs usually found in
F<event.h> that are not directly supported by the libev core alone.
If defined to be C<1>, libev will try to detect the availability of the
monotonic clock option at both compiletime and runtime. Otherwise no use
of the monotonic clock option will be attempted. If you enable this, you
usually have to link against librt or something similar. Enabling it when
the functionality isn't available is safe, though, although you have
to make sure you link against any libraries where the C<clock_gettime>
function is hiding in (often F<-lrt>).
If defined to be C<1>, libev will try to detect the availability of the
realtime clock option at compiletime (and assume its availability at
runtime if successful). Otherwise no use of the realtime clock option will
be attempted. This effectively replaces C<gettimeofday> by C<clock_get
(CLOCK_REALTIME, ...)> and will not normally affect correctness. See the
note about libraries in the description of C<EV_USE_MONOTONIC>, though.
If defined to be C<1>, libev will assume that C<nanosleep ()> is available
and will use it for delays. Otherwise it will use C<select ()>.
If undefined or defined to be C<1>, libev will compile in support for the
C<select>(2) backend. No attempt at autodetection will be done: if no
other method takes over, select will be it. Otherwise the select backend
will not be compiled in.
If defined to C<1>, then the select backend will use the system C<fd_set>
structure. This is useful if libev doesn't compile due to a missing
C<NFDBITS> or C<fd_mask> definition or it misguesses the bitset layout on
exotic systems. This usually limits the range of file descriptors to some
low limit such as 1024 or might have other limitations (winsocket only
allows 64 sockets). The C<FD_SETSIZE> macro, set before compilation, might
influence the size of the C<fd_set> used.
When defined to C<1>, the select backend will assume that
select/socket/connect etc. don't understand file descriptors but
wants osf handles on win32 (this is the case when the select to
be used is the winsock select). This means that it will call
C<_get_osfhandle> on the fd to convert it to an OS handle. Otherwise,
it is assumed that all these functions actually work on fds, even
on win32. Should not be defined on non-win32 platforms.
If defined to be C<1>, libev will compile in support for the C<poll>(2)
backend. Otherwise it will be enabled on non-win32 platforms. It
takes precedence over select.
If defined to be C<1>, libev will compile in support for the Linux
C<epoll>(7) backend. Its availability will be detected at runtime,
otherwise another method will be used as fallback. This is the
preferred backend for GNU/Linux systems.
If defined to be C<1>, libev will compile in support for the BSD style
C<kqueue>(2) backend. Its actual availability will be detected at runtime,
otherwise another method will be used as fallback. This is the preferred
backend for BSD and BSD-like systems, although on most BSDs kqueue only
supports some types of fds correctly (the only platform we found that
supports ptys for example was NetBSD), so kqueue might be compiled in, but
not be used unless explicitly requested. The best way to use it is to find
out whether kqueue supports your type of fd properly and use an embedded
kqueue loop.
If defined to be C<1>, libev will compile in support for the Solaris
10 port style backend. Its availability will be detected at runtime,
otherwise another method will be used as fallback. This is the preferred
backend for Solaris 10 systems.
reserved for future expansion, works like the USE symbols above.
If defined to be C<1>, libev will compile in support for the Linux inotify
interface to speed up C<ev_stat> watchers. Its actual availability will
be detected at runtime.
=item EV_H
The name of the F<ev.h> header file used to include it. The default if
undefined is C<< <ev.h> >> in F<event.h> and C<"ev.h"> in F<ev.c>. This
can be used to virtually rename the F<ev.h> header file in case of conflicts.
If C<EV_STANDALONE> isn't C<1>, this variable can be used to override
F<ev.c>'s idea of where to find the F<config.h> file, similarly to
C<EV_H>, above.
=item EV_EVENT_H
Similarly to C<EV_H>, this macro can be used to override F<event.c>'s idea
of how the F<event.h> header can be found.
If defined to be C<0>, then F<ev.h> will not define any function
prototypes, but still define all the structs and other symbols. This is
occasionally useful if you want to provide your own wrapper functions
around libev functions.
If undefined or defined to C<1>, then all event-loop-specific functions
will have the C<struct ev_loop *> as first argument, and you can create
additional independent event loops. Otherwise there will be no support
for multiple event loops and there is no first event loop pointer
argument. Instead, all functions act on the single default loop.
The range of allowed priorities. C<EV_MINPRI> must be smaller or equal to
C<EV_MAXPRI>, but otherwise there are no non-obvious limitations. You can
provide for more priorities by overriding those symbols (usually defined
to be C<-2> and C<2>, respectively).
When doing priority-based operations, libev usually has to linearly search
all the priorities, so having many of them (hundreds) uses a lot of space
and time, so using the defaults of five priorities (-2 .. +2) is usually
If your embedding app does not need any priorities, defining these both to
C<0> will save some memory and cpu.
If undefined or defined to be C<1>, then periodic timers are supported. If
defined to be C<0>, then they are not. Disabling them saves a few kB of
If undefined or defined to be C<1>, then idle watchers are supported. If
defined to be C<0>, then they are not. Disabling them saves a few kB of
If undefined or defined to be C<1>, then embed watchers are supported. If
defined to be C<0>, then they are not.
If undefined or defined to be C<1>, then stat watchers are supported. If
defined to be C<0>, then they are not.
If undefined or defined to be C<1>, then fork watchers are supported. If
defined to be C<0>, then they are not.
If you need to shave off some kilobytes of code at the expense of some
speed, define this symbol to C<1>. Currently only used for gcc to override
some inlining decisions, saves roughly 30% codesize of amd64.
C<ev_child> watchers use a small hash table to distribute workload by
pid. The default size is C<16> (or C<1> with C<EV_MINIMAL>), usually more
than enough. If you need to manage thousands of children you might want to
increase this value (I<must> be a power of two).
C<ev_staz> watchers use a small hash table to distribute workload by
inotify watch id. The default size is C<16> (or C<1> with C<EV_MINIMAL>),
usually more than enough. If you need to manage thousands of C<ev_stat>
watchers you might want to increase this value (I<must> be a power of
By default, all watchers have a C<void *data> member. By redefining
this macro to a something else you can include more and other types of
members. You have to define it each time you include one of the files,
though, and it must be identical each time.
For example, the perl EV module uses something like this:
#define EV_COMMON \
SV *self; /* contains this struct */ \
SV *cb_sv, *fh /* note no trailing ";" */
=item EV_CB_DECLARE (type)
=item EV_CB_INVOKE (watcher, revents)
=item ev_set_cb (ev, cb)
Can be used to change the callback member declaration in each watcher,
and the way callbacks are invoked and set. Must expand to a struct member
definition and a statement, respectively. See the F<ev.h> header file for
their default definitions. One possible use for overriding these is to
avoid the C<struct ev_loop *> as first argument in all cases, or to use
method calls instead of plain function calls in C++.
If you need to re-export the API (e.g. via a dll) and you need a list of
exported symbols, you can use the provided F<Symbol.*> files which list
all public symbols, one per line:
Symbols.ev for libev proper
Symbols.event for the libevent emulation
This can also be used to rename all public symbols to avoid clashes with
multiple versions of libev linked together (which is obviously bad in
itself, but sometimes it is inconvinient to avoid this).
A sed command like this will create wrapper C<#define>'s that you need to
include before including F<ev.h>:
<Symbols.ev sed -e "s/.*/#define & myprefix_&/" >wrap.h
This would create a file F<wrap.h> which essentially looks like this:
#define ev_backend myprefix_ev_backend
#define ev_check_start myprefix_ev_check_start
#define ev_check_stop myprefix_ev_check_stop
For a real-world example of a program the includes libev
verbatim, you can have a look at the EV perl module
(L<>). It has the libev files in
the F<libev/> subdirectory and includes them in the F<EV/EVAPI.h> (public
interface) and F<EV.xs> (implementation) files. Only the F<EV.xs> file
will be compiled. It is pretty complex because it provides its own header
The usage in rxvt-unicode is simpler. It has a F<ev_cpp.h> header file
that everybody includes and which overrides some configure choices:
#define EV_MINIMAL 1
#define EV_USE_POLL 0
#define EV_STAT_ENABLE 0
#define EV_FORK_ENABLE 0
#define EV_CONFIG_H <config.h>
#define EV_MINPRI 0
#define EV_MAXPRI 0
#include "ev++.h"
And a F<ev_cpp.C> implementation file that contains libev proper and is compiled:
#include "ev_cpp.h"
#include "ev.c"
In this section the complexities of (many of) the algorithms used inside
libev will be explained. For complexity discussions about backends see the
documentation for C<ev_default_init>.
All of the following are about amortised time: If an array needs to be
extended, libev needs to realloc and move the whole array, but this
happens asymptotically never with higher number of elements, so O(1) might
mean it might do a lengthy realloc operation in rare cases, but on average
it is much faster and asymptotically approaches constant time.
=over 4
=item Starting and stopping timer/periodic watchers: O(log skipped_other_timers)
This means that, when you have a watcher that triggers in one hour and
there are 100 watchers that would trigger before that then inserting will
have to skip those 100 watchers.
=item Changing timer/periodic watchers (by autorepeat, again): O(log skipped_other_timers)
That means that for changing a timer costs less than removing/adding them
as only the relative motion in the event queue has to be paid for.
=item Starting io/check/prepare/idle/signal/child watchers: O(1)
These just add the watcher into an array or at the head of a list.
=item Stopping check/prepare/idle watchers: O(1)
=item Stopping an io/signal/child watcher: O(number_of_watchers_for_this_(fd/signal/pid % EV_PID_HASHSIZE))
These watchers are stored in lists then need to be walked to find the
correct watcher to remove. The lists are usually short (you don't usually
have many watchers waiting for the same fd or signal).
=item Finding the next timer per loop iteration: O(1)
=item Each change on a file descriptor per loop iteration: O(number_of_watchers_for_this_fd)
A change means an I/O watcher gets started or stopped, which requires
libev to recalculate its status (and possibly tell the kernel).
=item Activating one watcher: O(1)
=item Priority handling: O(number_of_priorities)
Priorities are implemented by allocating some space for each
priority. When doing priority-based operations, libev usually has to
linearly search all the priorities.
=head1 AUTHOR
Marc Lehmann <>.