Section (3) cfree

Linux manual pages Section 3  


cfree — free allocated memory


#include <stdlib.h>

/* In SunOS 4 */
int cfree( void *ptr);
/* In glibc or FreeBSD libcompat */
void cfree( void *ptr);
/* In SCO OpenServer */
void cfree( char *ptr,
  unsigned num,
  unsigned size);
/* In Solaris */
void cfree( void *ptr,
  size_t nelem,
  size_t elsize);
[Note] Note
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
Since glibc 2.19:
_DEFAULT_SOURCE Glibc 2.19 and earlier:


This function should never be used. Use free(3) instead. Starting with version 2.26, it has been removed from glibc.

1-arg cfree

In glibc, the function cfree() is a synonym for free(3), added for compatibility with SunOS.

Other systems have other functions with this name. The declaration is sometimes in <stdlib.h> and sometimes in <malloc.h>

3-arg cfree

Some SCO and Solaris versions have malloc libraries with a 3-argument cfree(), apparently as an analog to calloc(3).

If you need it while porting something, add

#define cfree(p, n, s) free((p))

to your file.

A frequently asked question is Can I use free(3) to free memory allocated with calloc(3), or do I need cfree()? Answer: use free(3).

An SCO manual writes: The cfree routine is provided for compliance to the iBCSe2 standard and simply calls free. The num and size arguments to cfree are not used.


The SunOS version of cfree() (which is a synonym for free(3)) returns 1 on success and 0 on failure. In case of error, errno is set to EINVAL: the value of ptr was not a pointer to a block previously allocated by one of the routines in the malloc(3) family.


The cfree() function was removed from glibc in version 2.26.


For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see attributes(7).

Interface Attribute Value
cfree() Thread safety MT-Safe /* In glibc */


The 3-argument version of cfree() as used by SCO conforms to the iBCSe2 standard: Intel386 Binary Compatibility Specification, Edition 2.




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  Copyright (c) 2003 Andries Brouwer (

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