The three types of buffering available are unbuffered, block buffered, and line
buffered. When an output stream is unbuffered, information appears on the
destination file or terminal as soon as written; when it is block buffered
many characters are saved up and written as a block; when it is line buffered
characters are saved up until a newline is output or input is read from any
stream attached to a terminal device (typically stdin). The function
fflush(3) may be used to force the block out early. (See
fclose(3).) Normally all files are block buffered. When the first I/O
operation occurs on a file, malloc(3) is called, and a buffer is
obtained. If a stream refers to a terminal (as stdout normally does) it
is line buffered. The standard error stream stderr is always unbuffered
The setvbuf function may be used on any open stream to change its buffer.
The mode parameter must be one of the following three macros:
Except for unbuffered files, the buf argument should point to a buffer at
least size bytes long; this buffer will be used instead of the current
buffer. If the argument buf is NULL, only the mode is affected;
a new buffer will be allocated on the next read or write operation. The
setvbuf function may only be used after opening a stream and before any
other operations have been performed on it.
The other three calls are, in effect, simply aliases for calls to
setvbuf. The setbuf function is exactly equivalent to the call
The setbuffer function is the same, except that the size of the buffer is
up to the caller, rather than being determined by the default BUFSIZ.
The setlinebuf function is exactly equivalent to the call:
The function setvbuf returns 0 on success. It can return any value on
failure, but returns nonzero when mode is invalid or the request cannot
be honoured. It may set errno on failure. The other functions are void.
The setbuffer and setlinebuf functions are not portable to
versions of BSD before 4.2BSD, and are available under Linux since libc
4.5.21. On 4.2BSD and 4.3BSD systems, setbuf always uses a suboptimal
buffer size and should be avoided.
You must make sure that both buf and the space it points to still exist
by the time stream is closed, which also happens at program
For example, the following is illegal: