[][src]Crate signal_hook

Library for easier and safe Unix signal handling

Unix signals are inherently hard to handle correctly, for several reasons:

  • They are a global resource. If a library wants to set its own signal handlers, it risks disturbing some other library. It is possible to chain the previous signal handler, but then it is impossible to remove the old signal handlers from the chains in any practical manner.
  • They can be called from whatever thread, requiring synchronization. Also, as they can interrupt a thread at any time, making most handling race-prone.
  • According to the POSIX standard, the set of functions one may call inside a signal handler is limited to very few of them. To highlight, mutexes (or other locking mechanisms) and memory allocation and deallocation is not allowed.

This library aims to solve some of the problems. It provides a global registry of actions performed on arrival of signals. It is possible to register multiple actions for the same signal and it is possible to remove the actions later on. If there was a previous signal handler when the first action for a signal is registered, it is chained (but the original one can't be removed).

The main function of the library is register.

It also offers several common actions one might want to register, implemented in the correct way. They are scattered through submodules and have the same limitations and characteristics as the register function. Generally, they work to postpone the action taken outside of the signal handler, where the full freedom and power of rust is available.

Unlike other Rust libraries for signal handling, this should be flexible enough to handle all the common and useful patterns.

The library avoids all the newer fancy signal-handling routines. These generally have two downsides:

  • They are not fully portable, therefore the library would have to contain both the implementation using the basic routines and the fancy ones. As signal handling is not on the hot path of most programs, this would not bring any actual benefit.
  • The other routines require that the given signal is masked in all application's threads. As the signals are not masked by default and a new thread inherits the signal mask of its parent, it is possible to guarantee such global mask by masking them before any threads start. While this is possible for an application developer to do, it is not possible for a a library.


Even with this library, you should thread with care. It does not eliminate all the problems mentioned above.

Also, note that the OS may collate multiple instances of the same signal into just one call of the signal handler. Furthermore, some abstractions implemented here also naturally collate multiple instances of the same signal. The general guarantee is, if there was at least one signal of the given number delivered, an action will be taken, but it is not specified how many times ‒ signals work mostly as kind of „wake up now“ nudge, if the application is slow to wake up, it may be nudged multiple times before it does so.

Signal limitations

OS limits still apply ‒ it is not possible to redefine certain signals (eg. SIGKILL or SIGSTOP) and it is probably a very stupid idea to touch certain other ones (SIGSEGV, SIGFPE, SIGILL). Therefore, this library will panic if any attempt at manipulating these is made. There are some use cases for redefining the latter ones, but these are not well served by this library and you really really have to know what you're doing and are generally on your own doing that.

Signal masks

As the library uses sigaction under the hood, signal masking works as expected (eg. with pthread_sigmask). This means, signals will not be delivered if the signal is masked in all program's threads.

By the way, if you do want to modify the signal mask (or do other Unix-specific magic), the nix crate offers safe interface to many low-level functions, including pthread_sigmask.


It should work on any POSIX.1-2001 system, which are all the major big OSes with the notable exception of Windows.

Non-standard signals are also supported. Pass the signal value directly from libc or use the numeric value directly.

use std::sync::Arc;
use std::sync::atomic::{AtomicBool};
let term = Arc::new(AtomicBool::new(false));
let _ = signal_hook::flag::register(libc::SIGINT, Arc::clone(&term));

This crate includes a limited support for Windows, based on signal/raise in the CRT. There are differences in both API and behavior:

  • iterator and pipe are not yet implemented.
  • Due to lack of signal blocking, there's a race condition. After the call to signal, there's a moment where we miss a signal. That means when you register a handler, there may be a signal which invokes neither the default handler or the handler you register.
  • Handlers registered by signal in Windows are cleared on first signal. To match behavior in other platforms, we re-register the handler each time the handler is called, but there's a moment where we miss a handler. That means when you receive two signals in a row, there may be a signal which invokes the default handler, nevertheless you certainly have registered the handler.

Moreover, signals won't work as you expected. SIGTERM isn't actually used and not all Ctrl-Cs are turned into SIGINT.

Patches to improve Windows support in this library are welcome.


extern crate signal_hook;

use std::io::Error;
use std::sync::Arc;
use std::sync::atomic::{AtomicBool, Ordering};

fn main() -> Result<(), Error> {
    let term = Arc::new(AtomicBool::new(false));
    signal_hook::flag::register(signal_hook::SIGTERM, Arc::clone(&term))?;
    while !term.load(Ordering::Relaxed) {
        // Do some time-limited stuff here
        // (if this could block forever, then there's no guarantee the signal will have any
        // effect).


  • mio-support: The Signals iterator becomes pluggable into mio.
  • tokio-support: The Signals can be turned into Async, which provides a Stream interface for integration in the asynchronous world.



Cleaning up signals.


Module for actions setting flags.



An ID of registered action.



List of forbidden signals.


Same as SIGABRT, but the number is compatible to other platforms.


Ctrl-Break is pressed for Windows Console processes.




Registers an arbitrary action for the given signal.


Removes a previously installed action.