tree: be05c6701e58eac3f356b04a68b8197cca6dd6ca [path history] [tgz]
  1. include/
  2. remote_v2/
  3. tests/
  11. OWNERS
  13. private.h
  20. zxio_standalone.imported_symbols.allowlist
  21. zxio_standalone.ld
  22. zxio_standalone.public_symbols.ifs


The zxio client library provides an object oriented abstraction on top of basic I/O primitives such as files, pipes, directories, and sockets. This library is intended for use in low-level system libraries such as fdio and language runtimes to provide a minimal abstraction over different representations and protocols used for common primitives.

Internally, this library uses the FIDL* family of protocols and Zircon syscalls.


The zxio library is based on objects of type zxio_t. An object represents a single logical entity and a set of operations that can be performed on that entity. Internally an object may contain one or more Zircon handles to kernel objects.

Storage and lifetime of objects

The caller of the zxio library is responsible for providing storage for zxio objects and is responsible for their lifetime. A zxio object lives within an instance of the zxio_storage_t type.

Kernel objects

A zxio object may allocate and retain ownership of one or more kernel objects during the course of operation. Destroying an object will close all handles owned by a zxio object. Calling zxio_release() will close all handles except for the extracted primary object handle.

Functions with zx_handle_t parameters take ownership of the provided handles in all cases including errors unless the function documentation specifically states otherwise.

Functions with zx_handle_t* out parameters will do one of the following unless the function documentation specifically states otherwise:

  • Store a valid handle value into the provided address and return success. The caller has ownership of the handle in this case.
  • Store the value ZX_HANDLE_INVALID into the provided address and return an error code.
  • Do not store anything into the provided address and return an error code.

Object types

The zxio library has an extensible set of object types. The library provides many object types internally and allows users of the library to define their own types by implementing the zxio ops table defined in zxio/ops.h. Custom object implementers should adhere to the threading model for those objects.

Threading model

Operations on zxio objects are thread-safe unless otherwise noted below. The zxio library will internally synchronize any local state changes.

Creation and destruction

A zxio object must be fully created with one of the zxio_create..() functions before it can be used.

A zxio object is destroyed with the zxio_close() call. The caller is responsible for ensuring that the zxio object is not in use on any thread before calling zxio_close(). The zxio_close() operations always destroys the object and frees any resources associated with the object even in error cases. The close operation cannot be retried.

The storage underlying the zxio object should not be modified except by the zxio library or custom object implementations and must remain valid until after zxio_close() returns.

Intrusive and compound operations

Some zxio operations provide access to or rely on the internal state of the object and have additional considerations.

  • zxio_release() extracts a handle from the zxio object and is partially destructive on the object. The caller is responsible for ensuring that the zxio object is not in use on any thread before calling zxio_release(). After calling zxio_release(), the only operation that is safe to perform on the zxio object is zxio_close(). zxio_close() must be called before the storage underlying the object is deallocated.

  • zxio_borrow() returns a handle to the zxio object's primary object if it exists. The caller must take care to ensure that they do not close this handle and that any operations they perform are safe with concurrent operations on the object.

  • zxio_dirent_iterator_init() creates an iterator object tied to a directory object. The directory object must outlive the iterator object.

  • zxio_watch_directory() initiates a watch operation tied to a directory object. The operation must conclude before the directory can be destroyed.

Blocking and cancellation

Many zxio operations are synchronized with a kernel object and possibly remote server before returning. These operations will return the error ZX_ERR_WOULD_BLOCK if the operation is unable to make progress in the object‘s current state. Such operations may block if the remote server is unresponsive. They should not block based on the object’s internal state.

Operations which will never synchronize with a remote server are documented as such. Some operations also expose a variant with the suffix _async to indicate that they do not block and that the caller is responsible for completing the remainder of the operation. zxio_open_async() is an example of such an operation. It solicits an event from the server backing the opened object into a provided channel object. The caller can wait for the channel to become readable using an asynchronous waiting facility such as a zx_port_wait() and then call zxio_open_with_on_open() to process the event when it is ready, or simply call zxio_open_with_on_open() to block until an event is ready.

The zxio library does not currently provide any mechanism for canceling pending or concurrent blocking operations on an object.

Asynchronously waiting for state changes

The zxio library supports asynchronously waiting for objects to change state. This can be used to defer operations until they are likely to make progress. To use this facility:

  1. Call zxio_wait_begin() with a set of states of interest. This will produce a zx_handle_t value and a zx_signals_t value. Note that this operation does not transfer ownership of the handle.
  2. Register a wait on the handle + signals tuple with zx_object_async_wait() or another Zircon waiting operation.
  3. When the wait completes, call zxio_wait_end() with the values from kernel. This will produce a zxio_signals_t value reflecting the object's new state.
  4. Make calls based on the new state.

As the handle value produced by zxio_wait_begin() is borrowed from the zxio object, it is unsafe to destroy the zxio object or release and close the object's primary handle and then register and async wait.

This can be used to implement blocking calls by attempting the operation and then blocking with zx_object_wait_one() if the operation returns ZX_ERR_WOULD_BLOCK.

Allocations, buffers, and strings

Heap allocations

The zxio library currently allocates internal heap buffers for some operations. These allocations are internal to the library and not exposed to callers. Custom object implementations should avoid heap allocations where possible and maintain ownership internal to the object when not.

TODO( Remove all of the heap allocations from inside zxio and update this text.


Many zxio operations read or write to caller allocated buffers. The caller must take care to ensure that these buffers are of the required size and alignment and that they remain valid for the duration of the call.

Stack usage

The zxio library attempts to use a limited amount of stack space to be usable in as many situations as possible. Zxio does not perform any dynamically sized stack allocations. There is currently no concrete upper bound on the stack usage of the zxio library.


The zxio library represents path components as strings with a pointer to a buffer and an length. Path components cannot contain embedded nulls. The zxio library does not require or set a null terminator.

When interfacing with C-style strings, compute a string length explicitly for input parameters and allocate space for a null terminator for output parameters.


The zxio library does not maintain internal static state and can be used as a static library. It internally uses the C++ standard library.

zxio_standalone is provided as a standalone shared library version of the zxio with most dependencies statically linked in (including the C++ standard library). This library depends dynamically on a subset of the C standard library, many vVDSO calls, and the __zx_panic symbol. The exact list of symbol dependencies is listed in zxio_standalone.imported_symbols.allowlist.