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System

The System module provides functions that interact directly with the VM or the host system.

Time

The System module also provides functions that work with time, returning different times kept by the system with support for different time units.

One of the complexities in relying on system times is that they may be adjusted. For example, when you enter and leave daylight saving time, the system clock will be adjusted, often adding or removing one hour. We call such changes “time warps”. In order to understand how such changes may be harmful, imagine the following code:

## DO NOT DO THIS
prev = System.os_time()
# ... execute some code ...
next = System.os_time()
diff = next - prev

If, while the code is executing, the system clock changes, some code that executed in 1 second may be reported as taking over 1 hour! To address such concerns, the VM provides a monotonic time via System.monotonic_time/0 which never decreases and does not leap:

## DO THIS
prev = System.monotonic_time()
# ... execute some code ...
next = System.monotonic_time()
diff = next - prev

Generally speaking, the VM provides three time measurements:

  • os_time/0 - the time reported by the OS. This time may be adjusted forwards or backwards in time with no limitation;

  • system_time/0 - the VM view of the os_time/0. The system time and OS time may not match in case of time warps although the VM works towards aligning them. This time is not monotonic (i.e., it may decrease) as its behaviour is configured by the VM time warp mode;

  • monotonic_time/0 - a monotonically increasing time provided by the Erlang VM.

The time functions in this module work in the :native unit (unless specified otherwise), which is OS dependent. Most of the time, all calculations are done in the :native unit, to avoid loss of precision, with convert_time_unit/3 being invoked at the end to convert to a specific time unit like :millisecond or :microsecond. See the time_unit/0 type for more information.

For a more complete rundown on the VM support for different times, see the chapter on time and time correction in the Erlang docs.

Summary

Types

time_unit()

The time unit to be passed to functions like monotonic_time/1 and others

Functions

argv()

Lists command line arguments

argv(args)

Modifies command line arguments

at_exit(fun)

Registers a program exit handler function

build_info()

Elixir build information

cmd(command, args, opts \\ [])

Executes the given command with args

compiled_endianness()

Returns the endianness the system was compiled with

convert_time_unit(time, from_unit, to_unit)

Converts time from time unit from_unit to time unit to_unit

cwd()

Current working directory

cwd!()

Current working directory, exception on error

delete_env(varname)

Deletes an environment variable

endianness()

Returns the endianness

find_executable(program)

Locates an executable on the system

get_env()

Returns all system environment variables

get_env(varname)

Returns the value of the given environment variable

get_pid()

Erlang VM process identifier

halt(status \\ 0)

Immediately halts the Erlang runtime system

monotonic_time()

Returns the current monotonic time in the :native time unit

monotonic_time(unit)

Returns the current monotonic time in the given time unit

os_time()

Returns the current OS time

os_time(unit)

Returns the current OS time in the given time unit

otp_release()

Returns the OTP release number

put_env(enum)

Sets multiple environment variables

put_env(varname, value)

Sets an environment variable value

schedulers()

Returns the number of schedulers in the VM

schedulers_online()

Returns the number of schedulers online in the VM

stacktrace()

Last exception stacktrace

stop(status \\ 0)

Carefully stops the Erlang runtime system

system_time()

Returns the current system time in the :native time unit

system_time(unit)

Returns the current system time in the given time unit

time_offset()

Returns the current time offset between the Erlang VM monotonic time and the Erlang VM system time

time_offset(unit)

Returns the current time offset between the Erlang VM monotonic time and the Erlang VM system time

tmp_dir()

Writable temporary directory

tmp_dir!()

Writable temporary directory, exception on error

unique_integer(modifiers \\ [])

Generates and returns an integer that is unique in the current runtime instance

user_home()

User home directory

user_home!()

User home directory, exception on error

version()

Elixir version information

Types

time_unit()

time_unit ::
  :second |
  :millisecond |
  :microsecond |
  :nanosecond |
  pos_integer |
  :seconds |
  :milliseconds |
  :microseconds |
  :nanoseconds

The time unit to be passed to functions like monotonic_time/1 and others.

The :second, :millisecond, :microsecond and :nanosecond time units controls the return value of the functions that accept a time unit.

A time unit can also be a strictly positive integer. In this case, it represents the “parts per second”: the time will be returned in 1 / parts_per_second seconds. For example, using the :millisecond time unit is equivalent to using 1000 as the time unit (as the time will be returned in 1/1000 seconds - milliseconds).

Keep in mind the Erlang API prior to version 19.1 will use :milli_seconds, :micro_seconds and :nano_seconds as time units although Elixir normalizes their spelling to match the SI convention.

Functions

argv()

argv() :: [String.t]

Lists command line arguments.

Returns the list of command line arguments passed to the program.

argv(args)

argv([String.t]) :: :ok

Modifies command line arguments.

Changes the list of command line arguments. Use it with caution, as it destroys any previous argv information.

at_exit(fun)

Registers a program exit handler function.

Registers a function that will be invoked at the end of program execution. Useful for invoking a hook in “script” mode.

The handler always executes in a different process from the one it was registered in. As a consequence, any resources managed by the calling process (ETS tables, open files, etc.) won’t be available by the time the handler function is invoked.

The function must receive the exit status code as an argument.

build_info()

build_info() :: map

Elixir build information.

Returns a keyword list with Elixir version, Git short revision hash and compilation date.

cmd(command, args, opts \\ [])

cmd(binary, [binary], keyword) :: {Collectable.t, exit_status :: non_neg_integer}

Executes the given command with args.

command is expected to be an executable available in PATH unless an absolute path is given.

args must be a list of binaries which the executable will receive as its arguments as is. This means that:

  • environment variables will not be interpolated
  • wildcard expansion will not happen (unless Path.wildcard/2 is used explicitly)
  • arguments do not need to be escaped or quoted for shell safety

This function returns a tuple containing the collected result and the command exit status.

Internally, this function uses a Port for interacting with the outside world. However, if you plan to run a long-running program, ports guarantee stdin/stdout devices will be closed but it does not automatically terminate the program. The documentation for the Port module describes this problem and possible solutions under the “Zombie processes” section.

Examples

iex> System.cmd "echo", ["hello"]
{"hello\n", 0}

iex> System.cmd "echo", ["hello"], env: [{"MIX_ENV", "test"}]
{"hello\n", 0}

iex> System.cmd "echo", ["hello"], into: IO.stream(:stdio, :line)
hello
{%IO.Stream{}, 0}

Options

  • :into - injects the result into the given collectable, defaults to ""
  • :cd - the directory to run the command in
  • :env - an enumerable of tuples containing environment key-value as binary
  • :arg0 - sets the command arg0
  • :stderr_to_stdout - redirects stderr to stdout when true
  • :parallelism - when true, the VM will schedule port tasks to improve parallelism in the system. If set to false, the VM will try to perform commands immediately, improving latency at the expense of parallelism. The default can be set on system startup by passing the “+spp” argument to --erl.

Error reasons

If invalid arguments are given, ArgumentError is raised by System.cmd/3. System.cmd/3 also expects a strict set of options and will raise if unknown or invalid options are given.

Furthermore, System.cmd/3 may fail with one of the POSIX reasons detailed below:

  • :system_limit - all available ports in the Erlang emulator are in use

  • :enomem - there was not enough memory to create the port

  • :eagain - there are no more available operating system processes

  • :enametoolong - the external command given was too long

  • :emfile - there are no more available file descriptors (for the operating system process that the Erlang emulator runs in)

  • :enfile - the file table is full (for the entire operating system)

  • :eacces - the command does not point to an executable file

  • :enoent - the command does not point to an existing file

Shell commands

If you desire to execute a trusted command inside a shell, with pipes, redirecting and so on, please check :os.cmd/1.

compiled_endianness()

Returns the endianness the system was compiled with.

convert_time_unit(time, from_unit, to_unit)

convert_time_unit(integer, time_unit | :native, time_unit | :native) :: integer

Converts time from time unit from_unit to time unit to_unit.

The result is rounded via the floor function.

convert_time_unit/3 accepts an additional time unit (other than the ones in the time_unit/0 type) called :native. :native is the time unit used by the Erlang runtime system. It’s determined when the runtime starts and stays the same until the runtime is stopped. To determine what the :native unit amounts to in a system, you can call this function to convert 1 second to the :native time unit (i.e., System.convert_time_unit(1, :second, :native)).

cwd()

Current working directory.

Returns the current working directory or nil if one is not available.

cwd!()

Current working directory, exception on error.

Returns the current working directory or raises RuntimeError.

delete_env(varname)

delete_env(String.t) :: :ok

Deletes an environment variable.

Removes the variable varname from the environment.

endianness()

Returns the endianness.

find_executable(program)

find_executable(binary) :: binary | nil

Locates an executable on the system.

This function looks up an executable program given its name using the environment variable PATH on Unix and Windows. It also considers the proper executable extension for each OS, so for Windows it will try to lookup files with .com, .cmd or similar extensions.

get_env()

get_env() :: %{optional(String.t) => String.t}

Returns all system environment variables.

The returned value is a map containing name-value pairs. Variable names and their values are strings.

get_env(varname)

get_env(String.t) :: String.t | nil

Returns the value of the given environment variable.

The returned value of the environment variable varname is a string, or nil if the environment variable is undefined.

get_pid()

get_pid() :: binary

Erlang VM process identifier.

Returns the process identifier of the current Erlang emulator in the format most commonly used by the operating system environment.

For more information, see :os.getpid/0.

halt(status \\ 0)

halt(non_neg_integer | binary | :abort) :: no_return

Immediately halts the Erlang runtime system.

Terminates the Erlang runtime system without properly shutting down applications and ports. Please see stop/1 for a careful shutdown of the system.

status must be a non-negative integer, the atom :abort or a binary.

  • If an integer, the runtime system exits with the integer value which is returned to the operating system.

  • If :abort, the runtime system aborts producing a core dump, if that is enabled in the operating system.

  • If a string, an Erlang crash dump is produced with status as slogan, and then the runtime system exits with status code 1.

Note that on many platforms, only the status codes 0-255 are supported by the operating system.

For more information, see :erlang.halt/1.

Examples

System.halt(0)
System.halt(1)
System.halt(:abort)

monotonic_time()

monotonic_time() :: integer

Returns the current monotonic time in the :native time unit.

This time is monotonically increasing and starts in an unspecified point in time.

Inlined by the compiler into :erlang.monotonic_time/0.

monotonic_time(unit)

monotonic_time(time_unit) :: integer

Returns the current monotonic time in the given time unit.

This time is monotonically increasing and starts in an unspecified point in time.

os_time()

os_time() :: integer

Returns the current OS time.

The result is returned in the :native time unit.

This time may be adjusted forwards or backwards in time with no limitation and is not monotonic.

Inlined by the compiler into :os.system_time/0.

os_time(unit)

os_time(time_unit) :: integer

Returns the current OS time in the given time unit.

This time may be adjusted forwards or backwards in time with no limitation and is not monotonic.

otp_release()

otp_release() :: String.t

Returns the OTP release number.

put_env(enum)

put_env(Enumerable.t) :: :ok

Sets multiple environment variables.

Sets a new value for each environment variable corresponding to each key in dict.

put_env(varname, value)

put_env(binary, binary) :: :ok

Sets an environment variable value.

Sets a new value for the environment variable varname.

schedulers()

schedulers() :: pos_integer

Returns the number of schedulers in the VM.

schedulers_online()

schedulers_online() :: pos_integer

Returns the number of schedulers online in the VM.

stacktrace()

Last exception stacktrace.

Note that the Erlang VM (and therefore this function) does not return the current stacktrace but rather the stacktrace of the latest exception.

Inlined by the compiler into :erlang.get_stacktrace/0.

stop(status \\ 0)

stop(non_neg_integer | binary) :: no_return

Carefully stops the Erlang runtime system.

All applications are taken down smoothly, all code is unloaded, and all ports are closed before the system terminates by calling halt/1.

status must be a non-negative integer value which is returned by the runtime system to the operating system.

Note that on many platforms, only the status codes 0-255 are supported by the operating system.

For more information, see :init.stop/1.

Examples

System.stop(0)
System.stop(1)

system_time()

system_time() :: integer

Returns the current system time in the :native time unit.

It is the VM view of the os_time/0. They may not match in case of time warps although the VM works towards aligning them. This time is not monotonic.

Inlined by the compiler into :erlang.system_time/0.

system_time(unit)

system_time(time_unit) :: integer

Returns the current system time in the given time unit.

It is the VM view of the os_time/0. They may not match in case of time warps although the VM works towards aligning them. This time is not monotonic.

time_offset()

time_offset() :: integer

Returns the current time offset between the Erlang VM monotonic time and the Erlang VM system time.

The result is returned in the :native time unit.

See time_offset/1 for more information.

Inlined by the compiler into :erlang.time_offset/0.

time_offset(unit)

time_offset(time_unit) :: integer

Returns the current time offset between the Erlang VM monotonic time and the Erlang VM system time.

The result is returned in the given time unit unit. The returned offset, added to an Erlang monotonic time (e.g., obtained with monotonic_time/1), gives the Erlang system time that corresponds to that monotonic time.

tmp_dir()

Writable temporary directory.

Returns a writable temporary directory. Searches for directories in the following order:

  1. the directory named by the TMPDIR environment variable
  2. the directory named by the TEMP environment variable
  3. the directory named by the TMP environment variable
  4. C:\TMP on Windows or /tmp on Unix
  5. as a last resort, the current working directory

Returns nil if none of the above are writable.

tmp_dir!()

Writable temporary directory, exception on error.

Same as tmp_dir/0 but raises RuntimeError instead of returning nil if no temp dir is set.

unique_integer(modifiers \\ [])

unique_integer([:positive | :monotonic]) :: integer

Generates and returns an integer that is unique in the current runtime instance.

“Unique” means that this function, called with the same list of modifiers, will never return the same integer more than once on the current runtime instance.

If modifiers is [], then a unique integer (that can be positive or negative) is returned. Other modifiers can be passed to change the properties of the returned integer:

  • :positive - the returned integer is guaranteed to be positive.
  • :monotonic - the returned integer is monotonically increasing. This means that, on the same runtime instance (but even on different processes), integers returned using the :monotonic modifier will always be strictly less than integers returned by successive calls with the :monotonic modifier.

All modifiers listed above can be combined; repeated modifiers in modifiers will be ignored.

Inlined by the compiler into :erlang.unique_integer/1.

user_home()

User home directory.

Returns the user home directory (platform independent).

user_home!()

User home directory, exception on error.

Same as user_home/0 but raises RuntimeError instead of returning nil if no user home is set.

version()

version() :: String.t

Elixir version information.

Returns Elixir’s version as binary.

© 2012–2017 Plataformatec
Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0.
https://hexdocs.pm/elixir/1.5.0/System.html