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38.1 POSIX Interface Conventions

These interfaces provide access to operating system facilities. They provide a simple wrapping around the underlying C interfaces to make usage from Scheme more convenient. They are also used to implement the Guile port of The Scheme shell (scsh).

Generally there is a single procedure for each corresponding Unix facility. There are some exceptions, such as procedures implemented for speed and convenience in Scheme with no primitive Unix equivalent, e.g., copy-file.

The interfaces are intended as far as possible to be portable across different versions of Unix. In some cases procedures which can't be implemented on particular systems may become no-ops, or perform limited actions. In other cases they may throw errors.

General naming conventions are as follows:

Unexpected conditions are generally handled by raising exceptions. There are a few procedures which return a special value if they don't succeed, e.g., getenv returns #f if it the requested string is not found in the environment. These cases are noted in the documentation.

For ways to deal with exceptions, Exceptions.

Errors which the C-library would report by returning a NULL pointer or through some other means are reported by raising a system-error exception. The value of the Unix errno variable is available in the data passed by the exception.

It can be extracted with the function system-error-errno:

 (lambda ()
   (mkdir "/this-ought-to-fail-if-I'm-not-root"))
 (lambda stuff
   (let ((errno (system-error-errno stuff)))
      ((= errno EACCES)
       (display "You're not allowed to do that."))
      ((= errno EEXIST)
       (display "Already exists."))
       (display (strerror errno))))