STYLE(9)                  BSD Kernel Developer's Manual                 STYLE(9)

     style — kernel source file style guide

     This file specifies the preferred style for kernel source files in the
     FreeBSD source tree.  It is also a guide for the preferred userland code
     style.  Many of the style rules are implicit in the examples.  Be careful
     to check the examples before assuming that style is silent on an issue.

      * Style guide for FreeBSD.  Based on the CSRG's KNF (Kernel Normal Form).
      *      @(#)style       1.14 (Berkeley) 4/28/95
      * $FreeBSD: src/share/man/man9/style.9,v 1.121 2005/06/28 20:15:18 hmp Exp $

      * VERY important single-line comments look like this.

     /* Most single-line comments look like this. */

      * Multi-line comments look like this.  Make them real sentences.  Fill
      * them so they look like real paragraphs.

     The copyright header should be a multi-line comment, with the first line of
     the comment having a dash after the star like so:

      * Copyright (c) 1984-2025 John Q. Public.  All Rights Reserved.
      * Long, boring license goes here, but redacted for brevity

     An automatic script collects license information from the tree for all
     comments that start in the first column with “/*-”.  If you desire to flag
     indent(1) to not reformat a comment that starts in the first column which
     is not a license or copyright notice, change the dash to a star for those
     comments.  Comments starting in columns other than the first are never
     considered license statements.

     After any copyright header, there is a blank line, and the $FreeBSD$ for
     non C/C++ language source files.  Version control system ID tags should
     only exist once in a file (unlike in this one).  Non-C/C++ source files
     follow the example above, while C/C++ source files follow the one below.
     All VCS (version control system) revision identification in files obtained
     from elsewhere should be maintained, including, where applicable, multiple
     IDs showing a file's history.  In general, do not edit foreign IDs or their
     infrastructure.  Unless otherwise wrapped (such as “#if
     defined(LIBC_SCCS)”), enclose both in “#if 0 ... #endif” to hide any
     uncompilable bits and to keep the IDs out of object files.  Only add “From:
     ” in front of foreign VCS IDs if the file is renamed.

     #if 0
     #ifndef lint
     static char sccsid[] = "@(#)style       1.14 (Berkeley) 4/28/95";
     #endif /* not lint */

     #include <sys/cdefs.h>
     __FBSDID("$FreeBSD: src/share/man/man9/style.9,v 1.121 2005/06/28 20:15:18 hmp Exp $");

     Leave another blank line before the header files.

     Kernel include files (i.e. sys/*.h) come first; normally, include
     <sys/types.h> OR <sys/param.h>, but not both.  <sys/types.h> includes
     <sys/cdefs.h>, and it is okay to depend on that.

     #include <sys/types.h>  /* Non-local includes in angle brackets. */

     For a network program, put the network include files next.

     #include <net/if.h>
     #include <net/if_dl.h>
     #include <net/route.h>
     #include <netinet/in.h>
     #include <protocols/rwhod.h>

     Do not use files in /usr/include for files in the kernel.

     Leave a blank line before the next group, the /usr/include files, which
     should be sorted alphabetically by name.

     #include <stdio.h>

     Global pathnames are defined in <paths.h>.  Pathnames local to the program
     go in "pathnames.h" in the local directory.

     #include <paths.h>

     Leave another blank line before the user include files.

     #include "pathnames.h"          /* Local includes in double quotes. */

     Do not #define or declare names in the implementation namespace except for
     implementing application interfaces.

     The names of “unsafe” macros (ones that have side effects), and the names
     of macros for manifest constants, are all in uppercase.  The expansions of
     expression-like macros are either a single token or have outer parentheses.
     Put a single tab character between the #define and the macro name.  If a
     macro is an inline expansion of a function, the function name is all in
     lowercase and the macro has the same name all in uppercase.  Right-justify
     the backslashes; it makes it easier to read.  If the macro encapsulates a
     compound statement, enclose it in a do loop, so that it can safely be used
     in if statements.  Any final statement-terminating semicolon should be
     supplied by the macro invocation rather than the macro, to make parsing
     easier for pretty-printers and editors.

     #define MACRO(x, y) do {                                                \
             variable = (x) + (y);                                           \
             (y) += 2;                                                       \
     } while (0)

     When code is conditionally compiled using #ifdef or #if, a comment may be
     added following the matching #endif or #else to permit the reader to easily
     discern where conditionally compiled code regions end.  This comment should
     be used only for (subjectively) long regions, regions greater than 20
     lines, or where a series of nested #ifdef 's may be confusing to the
     reader.  Exceptions may be made for cases where code is conditionally not
     compiled for the purposes of lint(1), even though the uncompiled region may
     be small.  The comment should be separated from the #endif or #else by a
     single space.  For short conditionally compiled regions, a closing comment
     should not be used.

     The comment for #endif should match the expression used in the
     corresponding #if or #ifdef.  The comment for #else and #elif should match
     the inverse of the expression(s) used in the preceding #if and/or #elif
     statements.  In the comments, the subexpression “defined(FOO)” is
     abbreviated as “FOO”.  For the purposes of comments, “#ifndef FOO” is
     treated as “#if !defined(FOO)”.

     #ifdef KTRACE
     #include <sys/ktrace.h>

     #ifdef COMPAT_43
     /* A large region here, or other conditional code. */
     #else /* !COMPAT_43 */
     /* Or here. */
     #endif /* COMPAT_43 */

     #ifndef COMPAT_43
     /* Yet another large region here, or other conditional code. */
     #else /* COMPAT_43 */
     /* Or here. */
     #endif /* !COMPAT_43 */

     The project is slowly moving to use the ISO/IEC 9899:1999 (“ISO C99”)
     unsigned integer identifiers of the form uintXX_t in preference to the
     older BSD-style integer identifiers of the form u_intXX_t.  New code should
     use the former, and old code should be converted to the new form if other
     major work is being done in that area and there is no overriding reason to
     prefer the older BSD-style.  Like white-space commits, care should be taken
     in making uintXX_t only commits.

     Enumeration values are all uppercase.

     enum enumtype { ONE, TWO } et;

     In declarations, do not put any whitespace between asterisks and adjacent
     tokens, except for tokens that are identifiers related to types.  (These
     identifiers are the names of basic types, type qualifiers, and
     typedef-names other than the one being declared.)  Separate these
     identifiers from asterisks using a single space.

     When declaring variables in structures, declare them sorted by use, then by
     size (largest to smallest), and then in alphabetical order.  The first
     category normally does not apply, but there are exceptions.  Each one gets
     its own line.  Try to make the structure readable by aligning the member
     names using either one or two tabs depending upon your judgment.  You
     should use one tab only if it suffices to align at least 90% of the member
     names.  Names following extremely long types should be separated by a
     single space.

     Major structures should be declared at the top of the file in which they
     are used, or in separate header files if they are used in multiple source
     files.  Use of the structures should be by separate declarations and should
     be extern if they are declared in a header file.

     struct foo {
             struct foo      *next;          /* List of active foo. */
             struct mumble   amumble;        /* Comment for mumble. */
             int             bar;            /* Try to align the comments. */
             struct verylongtypename *baz;   /* Won't fit in 2 tabs. */
     struct foo *foohead;                    /* Head of global foo list. */

     Use queue(3) macros rather than rolling your own lists, whenever possible.
     Thus, the previous example would be better written:

     #include <sys/queue.h>

     struct foo {
             LIST_ENTRY(foo) link;           /* Use queue macros for foo lists. */
             struct mumble   amumble;        /* Comment for mumble. */
             int             bar;            /* Try to align the comments. */
             struct verylongtypename *baz;   /* Won't fit in 2 tabs. */
     LIST_HEAD(, foo) foohead;               /* Head of global foo list. */

     Avoid using typedefs for structure types.  Typedefs are problematic because
     they do not properly hide their underlying type; for example you need to
     know if the typedef is the structure itself or a pointer to the structure.
     In addition they must be declared exactly once, whereas an incomplete
     structure type can be mentioned as many times as necessary.  Typedefs are
     difficult to use in stand-alone header files: the header that defines the
     typedef must be included before the header that uses it, or by the header
     that uses it (which causes namespace pollution), or there must be a back-
     door mechanism for obtaining the typedef.

     When convention requires a typedef, make its name match the struct tag.
     Avoid typedefs ending in “_t”, except as specified in Standard C or by

     /* Make the structure name match the typedef. */
     typedef struct bar {
             int     level;
     } BAR;
     typedef int             foo;            /* This is foo. */
     typedef const long      baz;            /* This is baz. */

     All functions are prototyped somewhere.

     Function prototypes for private functions (i.e., functions not used
     elsewhere) go at the top of the first source module.  Functions local to
     one source module should be declared static.

     Functions used from other parts of the kernel are prototyped in the
     relevant include file.  Function prototypes should be listed in a logical
     order, preferably alphabetical unless there is a compelling reason to use a
     different ordering.

     Functions that are used locally in more than one module go into a separate
     header file, e.g. "extern.h".

     Do not use the __P macro.

     In general code can be considered “new code” when it makes up about 50% or
     more of the file(s) involved.  This is enough to break precedents in the
     existing code and use the current style guidelines.

     The kernel has a name associated with parameter types, e.g., in the kernel

     void    function(int fd);

     In header files visible to userland applications, prototypes that are
     visible must use either “protected” names (ones beginning with an
     underscore) or no names with the types.  It is preferable to use protected
     names.  E.g., use:

     void    function(int);


     void    function(int _fd);

     Prototypes may have an extra space after a tab to enable function names to
     line up:

     static char     *function(int _arg, const char *_arg2, struct foo *_arg3,
                         struct bar *_arg4);
     static void      usage(void);

      * All major routines should have a comment briefly describing what
      * they do.  The comment before the "main" routine should describe
      * what the program does.
     main(int argc, char *argv[])
             char *ep;
             long num;
             int ch;

     For consistency, getopt(3) should be used to parse options.  Options should
     be sorted in the getopt(3) call and the switch statement, unless parts of
     the switch cascade.  Elements in a switch statement that cascade should
     have a FALLTHROUGH comment.  Numerical arguments should be checked for
     accuracy.  Code that cannot be reached should have a NOTREACHED comment.

             while ((ch = getopt(argc, argv, "abNn:")) != -1)
                     switch (ch) {           /* Indent the switch. */
                     case 'a':               /* Don't indent the case. */
                             aflag = 1;
                             /* FALLTHROUGH */
                     case 'b':
                             bflag = 1;
                     case 'N':
                             Nflag = 1;
                     case 'n':
                             num = strtol(optarg, &ep, 10);
                             if (num <= 0 || *ep != '\0') {
                                     warnx("illegal number, -n argument -- %s",
                     case '?':
                             /* NOTREACHED */
             argc -= optind;
             argv += optind;

     Space after keywords (if, while, for, return, switch).  No braces (‘{’ and
     ‘}’) are used for control statements with zero or only a single statement
     unless that statement is more than a single line in which case they are
     permitted.  Forever loops are done with for's, not while's.

             for (p = buf; *p != '\0'; ++p)
                     ;       /* nothing */
             for (;;)
             for (;;) {
                     z = a + really + long + statement + that + needs +
                         two + lines + gets + indented + four + spaces +
                         on + the + second + and + subsequent + lines;
             for (;;) {
                     if (cond)
             if (val != NULL)
                     val = realloc(val, newsize);

     Parts of a for loop may be left empty.  Do not put declarations inside
     blocks unless the routine is unusually complicated.

             for (; cnt < 15; cnt++) {

     Indentation is an 8 character tab.  Second level indents are four spaces.
     If you have to wrap a long statement, put the operator at the end of the

             while (cnt < 20 && this_variable_name_is_too_long &&
                 ep != NULL)
                     z = a + really + long + statement + that + needs +
                         two + lines + gets + indented + four + spaces +
                         on + the + second + and + subsequent + lines;

     Do not add whitespace at the end of a line, and only use tabs followed by
     spaces to form the indentation.  Do not use more spaces than a tab will
     produce and do not use spaces in front of tabs.

     Closing and opening braces go on the same line as the else.  Braces that
     are not necessary may be left out.

             if (test)
             else if (bar) {
             } else

     No spaces after function names.  Commas have a space after them.  No spaces
     after ‘(’ or ‘[’ or preceding ‘]’ or ‘)’ characters.

             error = function(a1, a2);
             if (error != 0)

     Unary operators do not require spaces, binary operators do.  Do not use
     parentheses unless they are required for precedence or unless the statement
     is confusing without them.  Remember that other people may confuse easier
     than you.  Do YOU understand the following?

             a = b->c[0] + ~d == (e || f) || g && h ? i : j >> 1;
             k = !(l & FLAGS);

     Exits should be 0 on success, or according to the predefined values in

             exit(EX_OK);    /*
                              * Avoid obvious comments such as
                              * "Exit 0 on success."

     The function type should be on a line by itself preceding the function.
     The opening brace of the function body should be on a line by itself.

     static char *
     function(int a1, int a2, float fl, int a4)

     When declaring variables in functions declare them sorted by size, then in
     alphabetical order; multiple ones per line are okay.  If a line overflows
     reuse the type keyword.

     Be careful to not obfuscate the code by initializing variables in the
     declarations.  Use this feature only thoughtfully.  DO NOT use function
     calls in initializers.

             struct foo one, *two;
             double three;
             int *four, five;
             char *six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve;

             four = myfunction();

     Do not declare functions inside other functions; ANSI C says that such
     declarations have file scope regardless of the nesting of the declaration.
     Hiding file declarations in what appears to be a local scope is undesirable
     and will elicit complaints from a good compiler.

     Casts and sizeof's are not followed by a space.  Note that indent(1) does
     not understand this rule.  sizeof's are written with parenthesis always.
     The redundant parenthesis rules do not apply to sizeof(var) instances.

     NULL is the preferred null pointer constant.  Use NULL instead of (type *)0
     or (type *)NULL in contexts where the compiler knows the type, e.g., in
     assignments.  Use (type *)NULL in other contexts, in particular for all
     function args.  (Casting is essential for variadic args and is necessary
     for other args if the function prototype might not be in scope.)  Test
     pointers against NULL, e.g., use:

     (p = f()) == NULL


     !(p = f())

     Do not use ! for tests unless it is a boolean, e.g. use:

     if (*p == '\0')


     if (!*p)

     Routines returning void * should not have their return values cast to any
     pointer type.

     Values in return statements should be enclosed in parentheses.

     Use err(3) or warn(3), do not roll your own.

             if ((four = malloc(sizeof(struct foo))) == NULL)
                     err(1, (char *)NULL);
             if ((six = (int *)overflow()) == NULL)
                     errx(1, "number overflowed");
             return (eight);

     Old-style function declarations look like this:

     static char *
     function(a1, a2, fl, a4)
             int a1, a2;     /* Declare ints, too, don't default them. */
             float fl;       /* Beware double vs. float prototype differences. */
             int a4;         /* List in order declared. */

     Use ANSI function declarations unless you explicitly need K&R
     compatibility.  Long parameter lists are wrapped with a normal four space

     Variable numbers of arguments should look like this:

     #include <stdarg.h>

     vaf(const char *fmt, ...)
             va_list ap;

             va_start(ap, fmt);
             /* No return needed for void functions. */

     static void
             /* Insert an empty line if the function has no local variables. */

     Use printf(3), not fputs(3), puts(3), putchar(3), whatever; it is faster
     and usually cleaner, not to mention avoiding stupid bugs.

     Usage statements should look like the manual pages SYNOPSIS.  The usage
     statement should be structured in the following order:

     1.   Options without operands come first, in alphabetical order, inside a
          single set of brackets (‘[’ and ‘]’).

     2.   Options with operands come next, also in alphabetical order, with each
          option and its argument inside its own pair of brackets.

     3.   Required arguments (if any) are next, listed in the order they should
          be specified on the command line.

     4.   Finally, any optional arguments should be listed, listed in the order
          they should be specified, and all inside brackets.

     A bar (‘|’) separates “either-or” options/arguments, and multiple
     options/arguments which are specified together are placed in a single set
     of brackets.

         "usage: f [-aDde] [-b b_arg] [-m m_arg] req1 req2 [opt1 [opt2]]\n"
         "usage: f [-a | -b] [-c [-dEe] [-n number]]\n"

             (void)fprintf(stderr, "usage: f [-ab]\n");

     Note that the manual page options description should list the options in
     pure alphabetical order.  That is, without regard to whether an option
     takes arguments or not.  The alphabetical ordering should take into account
     the case ordering shown above.

     New core kernel code should be reasonably compliant with the style guides.
     The guidelines for third-party maintained modules and device drivers are
     more relaxed but at a minimum should be internally consistent with their

     Stylistic changes (including whitespace changes) are hard on the source
     repository and are to be avoided without good reason.  Code that is
     approximately FreeBSD KNF style compliant in the repository must not
     diverge from compliance.

     Whenever possible, code should be run through a code checker (e.g., lint(1)
     or gcc -Wall) and produce minimal warnings.

     indent(1), lint(1), err(3), sysexits(3), warn(3), style.Makefile(5)

     This manual page is largely based on the src/admin/style/style file from
     the 4.4BSD-Lite2 release, with occasional updates to reflect the current
     practice and desire of the FreeBSD project.

BSD                             February 10, 2005                            BSD