Using Linux and C++, I would like a function that does the following:

string f(string s)
{
    string r = system("foo < s");
    return r;
}

Obviously the above doesn't work, but you get the idea. I have a string s that I would like to pass as the standard input of a child process execution of application "foo", and then I would like to record its standard output to string r and then return it.

What combination of Linux syscalls or POSIX functions should I use? I'm using Linux 3.0 and do not need the solution to work with older systems.

Solution 1

The code provided by eerpini does not work as written. Note, for example, that the pipe ends that are closed in the parent are used afterwards. Look at

close(wpipefd[1]); 

and the subsequent write to that closed descriptor. This is just transposition, but it shows this code has never been used. Below is a version that I have tested. Unfortunately, I changed the code style, so this was not accepted as an edit of eerpini's code.

The only structural change is that I only redirect the I/O in the child (note the dup2 calls are only in the child path.) This is very important, because otherwise the parent's I/O gets messed up. Thanks to eerpini for the initial answer, which I used in developing this one.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <errno.h>

#define PIPE_READ 0
#define PIPE_WRITE 1

int createChild(const char* szCommand, char* const aArguments[], char* const aEnvironment[], const char* szMessage) {
  int aStdinPipe[2];
  int aStdoutPipe[2];
  int nChild;
  char nChar;
  int nResult;

  if (pipe(aStdinPipe) < 0) {
    perror("allocating pipe for child input redirect");
    return -1;
  }
  if (pipe(aStdoutPipe) < 0) {
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_READ]);
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_WRITE]);
    perror("allocating pipe for child output redirect");
    return -1;
  }

  nChild = fork();
  if (0 == nChild) {
    // child continues here

    // redirect stdin
    if (dup2(aStdinPipe[PIPE_READ], STDIN_FILENO) == -1) {
      exit(errno);
    }

    // redirect stdout
    if (dup2(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_WRITE], STDOUT_FILENO) == -1) {
      exit(errno);
    }

    // redirect stderr
    if (dup2(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_WRITE], STDERR_FILENO) == -1) {
      exit(errno);
    }

    // all these are for use by parent only
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_READ]);
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_WRITE]);
    close(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_READ]);
    close(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_WRITE]); 

    // run child process image
    // replace this with any exec* function find easier to use ("man exec")
    nResult = execve(szCommand, aArguments, aEnvironment);

    // if we get here at all, an error occurred, but we are in the child
    // process, so just exit
    exit(nResult);
  } else if (nChild > 0) {
    // parent continues here

    // close unused file descriptors, these are for child only
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_READ]);
    close(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_WRITE]); 

    // Include error check here
    if (NULL != szMessage) {
      write(aStdinPipe[PIPE_WRITE], szMessage, strlen(szMessage));
    }

    // Just a char by char read here, you can change it accordingly
    while (read(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_READ], &nChar, 1) == 1) {
      write(STDOUT_FILENO, &nChar, 1);
    }

    // done with these in this example program, you would normally keep these
    // open of course as long as you want to talk to the child
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_WRITE]);
    close(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_READ]);
  } else {
    // failed to create child
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_READ]);
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_WRITE]);
    close(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_READ]);
    close(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_WRITE]);
  }
  return nChild;
}

Solution 2

Since you want bidirectional access to the process, you would have to do what popen does behind the scenes explicitly with pipes. I am not sure if any of this will change in C++, but here is a pure C example :

void piped(char *str){
    int wpipefd[2];
    int rpipefd[2];
    int defout, defin;
    defout = dup(stdout);
    defin = dup (stdin);
    if(pipe(wpipefd) < 0){
            perror("Pipe");
            exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
    if(pipe(rpipefd) < 0){
            perror("Pipe");
            exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
    if(dup2(wpipefd[0], 0) == -1){
            perror("dup2");
            exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
    if(dup2(rpipefd[1], 1) == -1){
            perror("dup2");
            exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
    }
    if(fork() == 0){
            close(defout);
            close(defin);
            close(wpipefd[0]);
            close(wpipefd[1]);
            close(rpipefd[0]);
            close(rpipefd[1]);
            //Call exec here. Use the exec* family of functions according to your need
    }
    else{
            if(dup2(defin, 0) == -1){
                    perror("dup2");
                    exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
            }
            if(dup2(defout, 1) == -1){
                    perror("dup2");
                    exit(EXIT_FAILURE);
            }
            close(defout);
            close(defin);
            close(wpipefd[1]);
            close(rpipefd[0]);
            //Include error check here
            write(wpipefd[1], str, strlen(str));
            //Just a char by char read here, you can change it accordingly
            while(read(rpipefd[0], &ch, 1) != -1){
                    write(stdout, &ch, 1);
            }
    }

}

Effectively you do this :

  1. Create pipes and redirect the stdout and stdin to the ends of the two pipes (note that in linux, pipe() creates unidirectional pipes, so you need to use two pipes for your purpose).
  2. Exec will now start a new process which has the ends of the pipes for stdin and stdout.
  3. Close the unused descriptors, write the string to the pipe and then start reading whatever the process might dump to the other pipe.

dup() is used to create a duplicate entry in the file descriptor table. While dup2() changes what the descriptor points to.

Note : As mentioned by [email protected] in his solution, what I provided above is more or less a template, it will not run if you just tried to execute the code since clearly there is a exec* (family of functions) missing, so the child will terminate almost immediately after the fork().

Solution 3

Ammo's code has some error handling bugs. The child process is returning after dup failure instead of exiting. Perhaps the child dups can be replaced with:

    if (dup2(aStdinPipe[PIPE_READ], STDIN_FILENO) == -1 ||
        dup2(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_WRITE], STDOUT_FILENO) == -1 ||
        dup2(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_WRITE], STDERR_FILENO) == -1
        ) 
    {
        exit(errno); 
    }

    // all these are for use by parent only
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_READ]);
    close(aStdinPipe[PIPE_WRITE]);
    close(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_READ]);
    close(aStdoutPipe[PIPE_WRITE]);