sigpending, rt_sigpending — examine pending signals


#include <signal.h>
int sigpending( sigset_t *set);
[Note] Note
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):


sigpending() returns the set of signals that are pending for delivery to the calling thread (i.e., the signals which have been raised while blocked). The mask of pending signals is returned in set.


sigpending() returns 0 on success. On failure, −1 is returned and errno is set to indicate the error.



set points to memory which is not a valid part of the process address space.


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


See sigsetops(3) for details on manipulating signal sets.

If a signal is both blocked and has a disposition of "ignored", it is not added to the mask of pending signals when generated.

The set of signals that is pending for a thread is the union of the set of signals that is pending for that thread and the set of signals that is pending for the process as a whole; see signal(7).

A child created via fork(2) initially has an empty pending signal set; the pending signal set is preserved across an execve(2).

C library/kernel differences

The original Linux system call was named sigpending(). However, with the addition of real-time signals in Linux 2.2, the fixed-size, 32-bit sigset_t argument supported by that system call was no longer fit for purpose. Consequently, a new system call, rt_sigpending(), was added to support an enlarged sigset_t type. The new system call takes a second argument, size_t sigsetsize, which specifies the size in bytes of the signal set in set. The glibc sigpending() wrapper function hides these details from us, transparently calling rt_sigpending() when the kernel provides it.


In versions of glibc up to and including 2.2.1, there is a bug in the wrapper function for sigpending() which means that information about pending real-time signals is not correctly returned.


kill(2), sigaction(2), signal(2), sigprocmask(2), sigsuspend(2), sigsetops(3), signal(7)


This page is part of release 5.11 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 (c) 2005 Michael Kerrisk
based on earlier work by and
Mike Battersby <>

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2005-09-15, mtk, Created new page by splitting off from sigaction.2