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-lite | Frog DNA, basically

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Table of Contents

NOTE: Incompatible changes in v2.0 compared to v1.x!


Libite is a lightweight library of frog DNA that can be used to fill the gaps in any dinosaur project. It holds useful functions and macros developed by both Finit and the OpenBSD project. Most notably the string functions: strlcpy(3), strlcat(3) and the highly useful *BSD sys/queue.h and sys/tree.h API's.

Libite holds many of the missing pieces in GNU libc, although -lite does not aim to become another GLIB. One noticeable gap in GLIBC is the _SAFE macros available in the BSD sys/queue.h API — highly recommended when traversing lists to delete/free nodes.

The code is open sourced under a mix of permissive Open Source licenses: MIT/X11 license, ISC license, and BSD licenses.

Using -lite

Libite is by default installed as a library and a set of include files. To prevent clashing with include files of the same name -lite employs an include file namespace lite/, which is strongly recommended to use in your applications:

#include <lite/lite.h>
#include <lite/conio.h>
#include <lite/queue.h>
#include <lite/tree.h>

The output from the pkg-config tool holds no surprises in this regard:

$ pkg-config --libs --static --cflags libite
-I/usr/local/include -L/usr/local/lib -lite

The prefix path /usr/local/ shown here is only the default. Use the configure script to select a different prefix when installing libite.

For GNU autotools based projects, use the following in

# Check for required libraries
PKG_CHECK_MODULES([lite], [libite >= 1.5.0])

and in your

proggy_CFLAGS = $(lite_CFLAGS)
proggy_LDADD  = $(lite_LIBS)

Important Note

When using functions like mkpath(), makepath(), and makefifo(), make sure your umask() is correct so you do not accidentally create files and directories accessible to other users than intended.

Helper Macros

  • atonum(str)

    Convert string to natural number, works for 32-bit non-negative integers. Returns -1 on error. (Uses strtonum() internally.)

  • blkdev(dev)

    Create block device

  • chardev(dev)

    Create character device

  • erase(path)

    Erase file/directory with remove(). Errors on stderr

  • makedir(path)

    Create directory, like mkdir(). Errors on stderr

  • makefifo(path)

    Create a FIFO, like mkfifo(). Errors on stderr

  • min(a,b)/max(a,b)

    These macros take care to avoid double evaluation.

  • touch(path)

    Create a file, or update mtime. Errors on stderr

  • S_ISEXEC(mode_t m)

    Mysteriously missing from GLIBC

  • ISCLR(word,bit)

    Is bit in (integer) word cleared?

  • ISSET(word,bit)

    Is bit in (integer) word set?

  • ISOTHER(word,bit)

    Are any other bits, except bit, in (integer) word set?

  • SETBIT(word,bit)

    Set bit in (integer) word.

  • CLRBIT(word,bit)

    Clear bit in (integer) word.

  • NELEMS(array)

    Returns the number of elements in an array. From the great book, The Practice of Programming, by Kernighan and Pike.

Generic Functions

  • chomp(str)

    Perl like chomp function, chop off last char if newline.

  • copyfile(src, dst, len, opt)

    Like the shell cp(1) and dd(1),, can also copy symlinks and preserve the mtime of the source file. The opt argument can be a mask of:


    In releases prior to v2.0 the opt argument was called symlink. The APIs are 100% compatible if the value 1 was used to enable the symlink option.

  • dir(dir, ext, filter, list, strip)

    Wrapper for scandir() with optional filter. Returns a list of names: files and directories that must be freed after use. See the unit test for an example, or take a look at glob(3), it's probably what you want anyway.

  • fcopyfile(src, dst)

    Like copyfile() but uses already open FILE * pointers. Copies from current file positions to current file positions until EOF.

  • fexist(file)

    Check for the existence of a file, returns True(1) or False(0).

  • fisdir(path)

    Check for the existence of a directory, returns True(1) or False(0).

  • fopenf(mode, fmt, ...)

    Like fopen(), but takes a formatted string as argument. This greatly simplifies operations that usually consist of composing a filename from parts into a dynamic buffer before actually opening the file.

    Notice: the swapped order of pathname and mode!

  • fremove(fmt, ...)

    Like remove(), but takes a formatted string as argument. This greatly simplifies operations that usually consist of composing a filename from parts into a dynamic buffer before actually removing the file.

  • fsendfile(src, dst, len)

    Copy data between file streams, very similar to fcopyfile(), but dst is allowed to be NULL to be able to read and discard len bytes from src.

  • ifconfig(ifname, addr, mask, up)

    Basic ifconfig like operations on an interface. Only supports IPv4 addresses. Note that mask is not CIDR notation.

  • lfopen(file, sep), lfclose(lf)

    LITE file API for parsing UNIX style configuration files like /etc/protocols and /etc/services.

  • lftok(lf)

    Read tokens, delimited by sep, from file opened with lfopen().

  • lfgetkey(lf, key)

    Find key in file opened with lfopen(), return value/argument.

  • lfgetint(lf, key)

    Wrapper for lfgetkey(), returns positive integer value to key, or -1 if key is not found.

  • fgetint(file, sep, key)

    Wrapper for lfopen(), lfgetint(), and lfclose(). Useful for when only reading a single key from a file.

  • makepath(dir)

    Create all components of the specified directory.

  • mkpath(dir, mode)

    Like makepath(), but also takes a mode_t permission mode argument.

  • fmkpath(mode, fmt, ...)

    Like mkpath(), but takes a formatted string as argument.

    Notice: the swapped order of pathname and mode!

  • movefile(src, dst)

    Like copyfile(), but renames src to dst, or recreates symlink with the dst name. On successful operation the source is removed and the function returns POSIX OK (0).

  • pidfile(name)

    Create a daemon PID file using either the name as a full path, if name starts with /, or in _PATH_VARRUN using name as the basename of the application. If name is NULL, then __progname is used as the basename. The resulting file name is available to the user as a read-only pointer:

      extern char *__pidfile_name;

    Use this function to create a PID file for your daemon when it is ready to receive signals. A client application may poll for the existence of this file, so make sure to have your signal handlers properly setup before calling this function.

    The PID file is removed when the program exits, using an atexit() handler. However, depending on how the program terminates the file may still exist even though the program is no longer running.

    Calling this function multiple times updates the mtime of the file. Only one atexit() handler is created, regardless of the amount of times the function is called. If the file is removed, subsequent calls to this function will recreate the file.

    See below for a link to OpenBSD man page.

  • pidfile_read(pidfile)

    Read PID from pid file created by pidfile().

  • pidfile_signal(pidfile, signal)

    Send signal to PID found in pid file created by pidfile().

  • progress(percent, max_width)

    Simple ASCII progress bar with a spinner. Start it with percent=0 and set the max_width=chars to indicate width of the progress bar. Called multiple times with the same percentage value cause spinner to spin.

  • rsync(src, dst, opt, *filter())

    Very simple rsync() to copy files and directories recursively. It supports pruning files from the destination tree that do not exist in the source tree and preserving the mtime of the source files. The opt argument can be a mask of:


    In releases prior to v2.0 the argument controlling pruning was called delete, it is now called opt. The APIs are 100% compatible if the value 1 was used.

  • strmatch(str, list), strnmatch(str, list, len)

    Find matching string in an array of strings. Returns index in array on match, or -1 on error or not found. strnmatch() takes an extra arg to compare only len number of characters from str.

  • systemf(fmt, ...)

    Like system(), but takes a formatted string as argument. This greatly simplifies operations that usually consist of composing a command from parts into a dynamic buffer before calling it.

  • telnet_open(addr, port), telnet_close(ctx), telnet_expect(ctx, script, output)

    Poor mans telnet expect in C. Opens connection to a Telnet service; FTP, Telnet, similar, and run an expect-like script.

  • telnet_session(addr, port, script output)

    Wrapper for the above three in one API.

  • tempfile()

    Secure replacement for tmpfile(). Creates an invisible temporary file in /tmp that is removed when the returned FILE pointer is closed.

    Note: Requires Linux v3.11, or later, will fall back to the old and unsafe tmpfile() on older systems.

  • truncatef(length, fmt, ...)

    Like truncate(), but takes a formatted string as argument. This simplifies some operations when the filename otherwise have to be composed from parts into a separate array before calling the real function.

  • which(cmd), whichp(cmd)

    C implementation of UNIX which(1). Returns a malloc'ed string with the full path to cmd on success, otherwise NULL.

    whichp() is a predicate function, returns TRUE or FALSE.

    Note: which("/bin/ps aux") will return /bin/ps, or TRUE, provided of course /bin/ps exists.

  • yorn(fmt, ...)

    Pose a question to user, appended with (y/N)?, returns TRUE for yes (both y and Y are handled) and FALSE for everything else.

GNU Functions

The following are useful GNU functions, that do not exist on *BSD, and some other platforms.

OpenBSD/NetBSD/FreeBSD Functions

The following are popular functions and highly useful macros from the *BSD world of UNIX that are sadly missing on Linux.

Build & Install

This library was initially built for and developed on GNU/Linux systems as a light weight utility library, these days NetBSD should also work.

make -j5
sudo make install-strip
sudo ldconfig

Note: When checking out code from GIT, use ./ to generate a configure script. It is a generated file and otherwise only included in released tarballs.

Origin & References

Much of the code in libite (-lite) is written by Claudio Matsuoka for Finit and released under the MIT/X11 license. Joachim Nilsson later improved on the Finit code base and included pieces of software released under the ISC and BSD licenses. See each respective file for license details.

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