pthreads Getting started with pthreads

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This section provides an overview of what pthreads is, and why a developer might want to use it.

It should also mention any large subjects within pthreads, and link out to the related topics. Since the Documentation for pthreads is new, you may need to create initial versions of those related topics.

Installation or Setup

Detailed instructions on getting pthreads set up or installed.

Minimal "Hello World" with pthreads

#include <pthread.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>

/* function to be run as a thread always must have the same signature:
   it has one void* parameter and returns void */
void *threadfunction(void *arg)
  printf("Hello, World!\n"); /*printf() is specified as thread-safe as of C11*/
  return 0;

int main(void)
  pthread_t thread;
  int createerror = pthread_create(&thread, NULL, threadfunction, NULL);
  /*creates a new thread with default attributes and NULL passed as the argument to the start routine*/
  if (!createerror) /*check whether the thread creation was successful*/
      pthread_join(thread, NULL); /*wait until the created thread terminates*/
      return 0;
  fprintf("%s\n", strerror(createerror), stderr);
  return 1;

Passing arguments to threads

#include <stdio.h>
#include <pthread.h>

void *thread_func(void *arg)
    printf("I am thread #%d\n", *(int *)arg);
    return NULL;

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
    pthread_t t1, t2;
    int i = 1;
    int j = 2;

    /* Create 2 threads t1 and t2 with default attributes which will execute
    function "thread_func()" in their own contexts with specified arguments. */
    pthread_create(&t1, NULL, &thread_func, &i);
    pthread_create(&t2, NULL, &thread_func, &j);

    /* This makes the main thread wait on the death of t1 and t2. */
    pthread_join(t1, NULL);
    pthread_join(t2, NULL);

    printf("In main thread\n");
    return 0;

How to compile:

$ gcc -pthread -o hello hello.c

This prints:

I am thread #1
I am thread #2
In main thread

Returning result from thread

A pointer to a concrete data type, converted to void * , can be used to pass values to and return results from the thread function.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <pthread.h>

struct thread_args
    int a;
    double b;

struct thread_result
    long x;
    double y;

void *thread_func(void *args_void)
    struct thread_args *args = args_void;
    /* The thread cannot return a pointer to a local variable */
    struct thread_result *res = malloc(sizeof *res);

    res->x  = 10 + args->a;
    res->y = args->a * args->b;
    return res;

int main()
    pthread_t threadL;
    struct thread_args in = { .a = 10, .b = 3.141592653 };
    void *out_void;
    struct thread_result *out;

    pthread_create(&threadL, NULL, thread_func, &in);
    pthread_join(threadL, &out_void);
    out = out_void;
    printf("out -> x = %ld\tout -> b = %f\n", out->x, out->y);

    return 0;

In many cases it is unnecessary to pass a return value in this way - for example, space in the argument struct can also be used to return results, or a pointer to a shared data structure can be passed to the thread and the results stored there.

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