msgctl — System V message control operations


#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/ipc.h>
#include <sys/msg.h>
int msgctl( int msqid,
  int cmd,
  struct msqid_ds *buf);


msgctl() performs the control operation specified by cmd on the System V message queue with identifier msqid.

The msqid_ds data structure is defined in <sys/msg.h> as follows:

struct msqid_ds {
  struct ipc_perm   msg_perm;
/* Ownership and permissions */
  time_t   msg_stime;
/* Time of last msgsnd(2) */
  time_t   msg_rtime;
/* Time of last msgrcv(2) */
  time_t   msg_ctime;
/* Time of last change */
  unsigned long   __msg_cbytes;
/* Current number of bytes in
queue (nonstandard) */
  msgqnum_t   msg_qnum;
/* Current number of messages
in queue */
  msglen_t   msg_qbytes;
/* Maximum number of bytes
allowed in queue */
  pid_t   msg_lspid;
/* PID of last msgsnd(2) */
  pid_t   msg_lrpid;
/* PID of last msgrcv(2) */

The ipc_perm structure is defined as follows (the highlighted fields are settable using IPC_SET):

struct ipc_perm {
  key_t   __key;
/* Key supplied to msgget(2) */
  uid_t   uid;
/* Effective UID of owner */
  gid_t   gid;
/* Effective GID of owner */
  uid_t   cuid;
/* Effective UID of creator */
  gid_t   cgid;
/* Effective GID of creator */
  unsigned short   mode;
/* Permissions */
  unsigned short   __seq;
/* Sequence number */

Valid values for cmd are:


Copy information from the kernel data structure associated with msqid into the msqid_ds structure pointed to by buf. The caller must have read permission on the message queue.


Write the values of some members of the msqid_ds structure pointed to by buf to the kernel data structure associated with this message queue, updating also its msg_ctime member. The following members of the structure are updated: msg_qbytes, msg_perm.uid, msg_perm.gid, and (the least significant 9 bits of) msg_perm.mode. The effective UID of the calling process must match the owner (msg_perm.uid) or creator (msg_perm.cuid) of the message queue, or the caller must be privileged. Appropriate privilege (Linux: the CAP_SYS_RESOURCE capability) is required to raise the msg_qbytes value beyond the system parameter MSGMNB.


Immediately remove the message queue, awakening all waiting reader and writer processes (with an error return and errno set to EIDRM). The calling process must have appropriate privileges or its effective user ID must be either that of the creator or owner of the message queue. The third argument to msgctl() is ignored in this case.

IPC_INFO (Linux-specific)

Return information about system-wide message queue limits and parameters in the structure pointed to by buf. This structure is of type msginfo (thus, a cast is required), defined in <sys/msg.h> if the _GNU_SOURCE feature test macro is defined:

struct msginfo {
  int   msgpool;
/* Size in kibibytes of buffer pool
used to hold message data;
unused within kernel */
  int   msgmap;
/* Maximum number of entries in message
map; unused within kernel */
  int   msgmax;
/* Maximum number of bytes that can be
written in a single message */
  int   msgmnb;
/* Maximum number of bytes that can be
written to queue; used to initialize
msg_qbytes during queue creation
(msgget(2)) */
  int   msgmni;
/* Maximum number of message queues */
  int   msgssz;
/* Message segment size;
unused within kernel */
  int   msgtql;
/* Maximum number of messages on all queues
in system; unused within kernel */
  unsigned short int   msgseg;
/* Maximum number of segments;
unused within kernel */

The msgmni, msgmax, and msgmnb settings can be changed via /proc files of the same name; see proc(5) for details.

MSG_INFO (Linux-specific)

Return a msginfo structure containing the same information as for IPC_INFO, except that the following fields are returned with information about system resources consumed by message queues: the msgpool field returns the number of message queues that currently exist on the system; the msgmap field returns the total number of messages in all queues on the system; and the msgtql field returns the total number of bytes in all messages in all queues on the system.

MSG_STAT (Linux-specific)

Return a msqid_ds structure as for IPC_STAT. However, the msqid argument is not a queue identifier, but instead an index into the kernel's internal array that maintains information about all message queues on the system.

MSG_STAT_ANY (Linux-specific, since Linux 4.17)

Return a msqid_ds structure as for MSG_STAT. However, msg_perm.mode is not checked for read access for msqid meaning that any user can employ this operation (just as any user may read /proc/sysvipc/msg to obtain the same information).


On success, IPC_STAT, IPC_SET, and IPC_RMID return 0. A successful IPC_INFO or MSG_INFO operation returns the index of the highest used entry in the kernel's internal array recording information about all message queues. (This information can be used with repeated MSG_STAT or MSG_STAT_ANY operations to obtain information about all queues on the system.) A successful MSG_STAT or MSG_STAT_ANY operation returns the identifier of the queue whose index was given in msqid.

On error, −1 is returned with errno indicating the error.


On failure, errno is set to one of the following:


The argument cmd is equal to IPC_STAT or MSG_STAT, but the calling process does not have read permission on the message queue msqid, and does not have the CAP_IPC_OWNER capability in the user namespace that governs its IPC namespace.


The argument cmd has the value IPC_SET or IPC_STAT, but the address pointed to by buf isn't accessible.


The message queue was removed.


Invalid value for cmd or msqid. Or: for a MSG_STAT operation, the index value specified in msqid referred to an array slot that is currently unused.


The argument cmd has the value IPC_SET or IPC_RMID, but the effective user ID of the calling process is not the creator (as found in msg_perm.cuid) or the owner (as found in msg_perm.uid) of the message queue, and the caller is not privileged (Linux: does not have the CAP_SYS_ADMIN capability).


An attempt (IPC_SET) was made to increase msg_qbytes beyond the system parameter MSGMNB, but the caller is not privileged (Linux: does not have the CAP_SYS_RESOURCE capability).


POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008, SVr4.


The inclusion of <sys/types.h> and <sys/ipc.h> isn't required on Linux or by any version of POSIX. However, some old implementations required the inclusion of these header files, and the SVID also documented their inclusion. Applications intended to be portable to such old systems may need to include these header files.

The IPC_INFO, MSG_STAT and MSG_INFO operations are used by the ipcs(1) program to provide information on allocated resources. In the future these may modified or moved to a /proc filesystem interface.

Various fields in the struct msqid_ds were typed as short under Linux 2.2 and have become long under Linux 2.4. To take advantage of this, a recompilation under glibc-2.1.91 or later should suffice. (The kernel distinguishes old and new calls by an IPC_64 flag in cmd.)


msgget(2), msgrcv(2), msgsnd(2), capabilities(7), mq_overview(7), sysvipc(7)


This page is part of release 5.04 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of this page, can be found at−pages/.

  Copyright 1993 Giorgio Ciucci (
and Copyright 2004, 2005 Michael Kerrisk <>

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Modified Tue Oct 22 08:11:14 EDT 1996 by Eric S. Raymond <>
Modified Sun Feb 18 01:59:29 2001 by Andries E. Brouwer <>
Modified, 27 May 2004, Michael Kerrisk <>
    Added notes on CAP_IPC_OWNER requirement
Modified, 17 Jun 2004, Michael Kerrisk <>
    Added notes on CAP_SYS_ADMIN requirement for IPC_SET and IPC_RMID
Modified, 11 Nov 2004, Michael Kerrisk <>
Language and formatting clean-ups
Added msqid_ds and ipc_perm structure definitions
2005-08-02, mtk: Added IPC_INFO, MSG_INFO, MSG_STAT descriptions
2018-03-20, dbueso: Added MSG_STAT_ANY description.