Posts Usage of timers - what you need to know about them?

Usage of timers - what you need to know about them?

I had written an earlier article on Timers in Linux. In this article I share with you a slideshow on what is possible with timers and what is not achievable, so that you may clearly understand how timers can be used during system programming under a linux host or linux target based environment.

The following points are worth noting about timers

  • The time is stored relative to a certain date in history (Jan 1, 1970), so when you read the time, its always a number relative to this date. This is called EPOCH time or the UNIX EPOCH time.
  • Each process is allocated one timer, this is called per process timer.
  • iTimers which are of three types: REAL, VIRTUAL and PROF
  • how to initialize countdown timers and use them
  • iTimerVal and timeval structures
  • it_interval, it_value, tv_sec, tv_usec variables and their possible values
  • using the signal handler function to handle timer expiry signals
  • how to set signal handlers while using timers
  • types of signals that can be sent to process or across processes (SIGALRM)

So its now easy for you to write a small timer program in linux and compile it using the following :

gcc timer_example.c p-o timer_example

run it using


and check your logs to see if the timers did expire properly! As you would be aware the timer is a per process timer which means within a process, if you require timeouts at different intervals it has to be an enhancement over a single timer. So you could expire a single timer every say 1 second or 10 milliseconds or whatever value you want (at a granular level) and provide a specific interrupt to the process or other processes every “N” seconds or milliseconds where “N” is a multiple of the it_value variable within the timeval structure.

Try it out yourself and be rest assured it ll work like a charm.

Technorati Tags: Software Development, Timeval, ITimer, SetITimer, GetITimer, Linux, Unix, Timers, Signals, Signal handler, Usage, Sigalrm, Real timer, Virtual timer, Prof timer, Man, Bangalore, Bengaluru, Technology, Blog

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