Manual Reference Pages  - MPROTECT (2)


mprotect - set protection on a region of memory


     Program source


#include <sys/mman.h> 

int mprotect(void *addr, size_t len, int prot);


mprotect() changes protection for the calling process’s memory page(s) containing any part of the address range in the interval [addr, addr+len-1]. addr must be aligned to a page boundary.

If the calling process tries to access memory in a manner that violates the protection, then the kernel generates a SIGSEGV signal for the process.

prot is either PROT_NONE or a bitwise-or of the other values in the following list:
PROT_NONE The memory cannot be accessed at all.
PROT_READ The memory can be read.
PROT_WRITE The memory can be modified.
PROT_EXEC The memory can be executed.


On success, mprotect() returns zero. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.


EACCES The memory cannot be given the specified access. This can happen, for example, if you mmap(2) a file to which you have read-only access, then ask mprotect() to mark it PROT_WRITE.
EINVAL addr is not a valid pointer, or not a multiple of the system page size.
ENOMEM Internal kernel structures could not be allocated.
ENOMEM Addresses in the range [addr, addr+len-1] are invalid for the address space of the process, or specify one or more pages that are not mapped. (Before kernel 2.4.19, the error EFAULT was incorrectly produced for these cases.)


SVr4, POSIX.1-2001. POSIX says that the behavior of mprotect() is unspecified if it is applied to a region of memory that was not obtained via mmap(2).


On Linux it is always permissible to call mprotect() on any address in a process’s address space (except for the kernel vsyscall area). In particular it can be used to change existing code mappings to be writable.

Whether PROT_EXEC has any effect different from PROT_READ is architecture- and kernel version-dependent. On some hardware architectures (e.g., i386), PROT_WRITE implies PROT_READ.

POSIX.1-2001 says that an implementation may permit access other than that specified in prot, but at a minimum can only allow write access if PROT_WRITE has been set, and must not allow any access if PROT_NONE has been set.


The program below allocates four pages of memory, makes the third of these pages read-only, and then executes a loop that walks upward through the allocated region modifying bytes.

An example of what we might see when running the program is the following:

$ ./a.out 
Start of region:        0x804c000
Got SIGSEGV at address: 0x804e000

    Program source

#include <unistd.h>
#include <signal.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <malloc.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <sys/mman.h>

#define handle_error(msg) \ do { perror(msg); exit(EXIT_FAILURE); } while (0)

char *buffer;

static void handler(int sig, siginfo_t *si, void *unused) { printf("Got SIGSEGV at address: 0x%lx\n", (long) si->si_addr); exit(EXIT_FAILURE); }

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) { char *p; int pagesize; struct sigaction sa;

sa.sa_flags = SA_SIGINFO; sigemptyset(&sa.sa_mask); sa.sa_sigaction = handler; if (sigaction(SIGSEGV, &sa, NULL) == -1) handle_error("sigaction");

pagesize = sysconf(_SC_PAGE_SIZE); if (pagesize == -1) handle_error("sysconf");

/* Allocate a buffer aligned on a page boundary; initial protection is PROT_READ | PROT_WRITE */

buffer = memalign(pagesize, 4 * pagesize); if (buffer == NULL) handle_error("memalign");

printf("Start of region: 0x%lx\n", (long) buffer);

if (mprotect(buffer + pagesize * 2, pagesize, PROT_READ) == -1) handle_error("mprotect");

for (p = buffer ; ; ) *(p++) = a ;

printf("Loop completed\n"); /* Should never happen */ exit(EXIT_SUCCESS); }


mmap(2), sysconf(3)


This page is part of release 3.44 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at

Linux MPROTECT (2) 2012-08-14
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