PROCFS(5) MidnightBSD File Formats Manual PROCFS(5)


procfs — process file system





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The process file system, or procfs, implements a view of the system process table inside the file system. It is normally mounted on /proc, and is required for the complete operation of programs such as ps(1) and w(1).

The procfs provides a two-level view of process space, unlike the previous FreeBSD 1.1 procfs implementation. At the highest level, processes themselves are named, according to their process ids in decimal, with no leading zeros. There is also a special node called curproc which always refers to the process making the lookup request.

Each node is a directory which contains the following entries:

Each directory contains several files:


a write-only file which supports a variety of control operations. Control commands are written as strings to the ctl file. The control commands are:


stops the target process and arranges for the sending process to become the debug control process.


continue execution of the target process and remove it from control by the debug process (which need not be the sending process).


continue running the target process until a signal is delivered, a breakpoint is hit, or the target process exits.


single step the target process, with no signal delivery.


wait for the target process to come to a steady state ready for debugging. The target process must be in this state before any of the other commands are allowed.

The string can also be the name of a signal, lower case and without the SIG prefix, in which case that signal is delivered to the process (see sigaction(2)).

The procctl(8) utility can be used to clear tracepoints in a stuck process.


The debug registers as defined by struct dbregs in <machine/reg.h>. dbregs is currently only implemented on the i386 architecture.


The type of the executable referenced by the file entry.


A symbolic link to the file from which the process text was read. This can be used to gain access to the process’ symbol table, or to start another copy of the process. If the file cannot be found, the link target is ‘unknown’.


The floating point registers as defined by struct fpregs in <machine/reg.h>. fpregs is only implemented on machines which have distinct general purpose and floating point register sets.


A map of the process’ virtual memory.


The complete virtual memory image of the process. Only those address which exist in the process can be accessed. Reads and writes to this file modify the process. Writes to the text segment remain private to the process.


Used for sending signals to the process. Not implemented.


Used for sending signal to the process group. Not implemented.


Allows read and write access to the process’ register set. This file contains a binary data structure struct regs defined in <machine/reg.h>. regs can only be written when the process is stopped.


This is a read-only file containing the process current and maximum limits. Each line is of the format rlimit current max, with -1 indicating infinity.


The process status. This file is read-only and returns a single line containing multiple space-separated fields as follows:

command name

process id

parent process id

process group id

session id

major,minor of the controlling terminal, or -1,-1 if there is no controlling terminal.

a list of process flags: ctty if there is a controlling terminal, sldr if the process is a session leader, noflags if neither of the other two flags are set.

the process start time in seconds and microseconds, comma separated.

the user time in seconds and microseconds, comma separated.

the system time in seconds and microseconds, comma separated.

the wait channel message

the process credentials consisting of the effective user id and the list of groups (whose first member is the effective group id) all comma separated.

the hostname of the jail in which the process runs, or ‘-’ to indicate that the process is not running within a jail.

In a normal debugging environment, where the target is fork/exec’d by the debugger, the debugger should fork and the child should stop itself (with a self-inflicted SIGSTOP for example). The parent should issue a wait and then an attach command via the appropriate ctl file. The child process will receive a SIGTRAP immediately after the call to exec (see execve(2)).

Each node is owned by the process’s user, and belongs to that user’s primary group, except for the mem node, which belongs to the kmem group.


normal mount point for the procfs.


directory containing process information for process pid.


directory containing process information for the current process


the process executable name


used to send control messages to the process


executable type


executable image


the process floating point register set


virtual memory map of the process


the complete virtual address space of the process


used for signaling the process


used for signaling the process group


the process register set


the process current and maximum rlimit


the process’ current status


mount(2), sigaction(2), unmount(2), mount_procfs(8), procctl(8), pseudofs(9)


This manual page written by Garrett Wollman, based on the description provided by Jan-Simon Pendry, and revamped later by Mike Pritchard.

MidnightBSD 0.3 September 3, 2004 MidnightBSD 0.3