getdirentries_args and other kernel syscall structures

rookie asmrookie at
Wed Nov 23 11:23:09 GMT 2005

2005/11/23, Daniel Rudy <dr2867 at>:
> Ok, I'va got a little question here.  In the structure
> getdirentries_args, there seems to be duplicated fields that I'm not
> entirely sure what they do.  Here's the definition of a structure
> verbatim from sys/sysproto.h:
> struct getdirentries_args {
>         char fd_l_[PADL_(int)]; int fd; char fd_r_[PADR_(int)];
>         char buf_l_[PADL_(char *)]; char * buf; char buf_r_[PADR_(char *)];
>         char count_l_[PADL_(u_int)]; u_int count; char
> count_r_[PADR_(u_int)];
>         char basep_l_[PADL_(long *)]; long * basep; char
> basep_r_[PADR_(long *)];
> };
> Now my question is what does the l and r variables do?  It seems that
> they do something with padding the data based on the endian of the
> machine?  I look through this header file, and I see all the structures
> have similar constructs.  Is it something that can be safely ignored

It just pads in the right way (according with endianism) the structure
to the right word. For example, x86 gots sizeof(long *) == 4. If you
want to have a syscall structure like that:

struct example_sys
   char f;
   short p;
   int g;

it is misaligned. In order to get a proper padded structure (all 32
bits entries) to speed-up accesses to the members, this little trick
is used.


Peace can only be achieved by understanding - A. Einstein

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