Get path of executable


Question

I know this question has been asked before but I still haven't seen a satisfactory answer, or a definitive "no, this cannot be done", so I'll ask again!

All I want to do is get the path to the currently running executable, either as an absolute path or relative to where the executable is invoked from, in a platform-independent fashion. I though boost::filesystem::initial_path was the answer to my troubles but that seems to only handle the 'platform-independent' part of the question - it still returns the path from which the application was invoked.

For a bit of background, this is a game using Ogre, which I'm trying to profile using Very Sleepy, which runs the target executable from its own directory, so of course on load the game finds no configuration files etc. and promptly crashes. I want to be able to pass it an absolute path to the configuration files, which I know will always live alongside the executable. The same goes for debugging in Visual Studio - I'd like to be able to run $(TargetPath) without having to set the working directory.

1
103
10/6/2009 9:52:56 PM

Accepted Answer

There is no cross platform way that I know.

For Linux: readlink /proc/self/exe

Windows: GetModuleFileName

78
11/20/2017 6:57:25 AM

The boost::dll::program_location function is one of the best cross platform methods of getting the path of the running executable that I know of. The DLL library was added to Boost in version 1.61.0.

The following is my solution. I have tested it on Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Free BSD, and GNU/Linux.

It requires Boost 1.55.0 or greater. It uses the Boost.Filesystem library directly and the Boost.Locale library and Boost.System library indirectly.

src/executable_path.cpp

#include <cstdio>
#include <cstdlib>
#include <algorithm>
#include <iterator>
#include <string>
#include <vector>

#include <boost/filesystem/operations.hpp>
#include <boost/filesystem/path.hpp>
#include <boost/predef.h>
#include <boost/version.hpp>
#include <boost/tokenizer.hpp>

#if (BOOST_VERSION > BOOST_VERSION_NUMBER(1,64,0))
#  include <boost/process.hpp>
#endif

#if (BOOST_OS_CYGWIN || BOOST_OS_WINDOWS)
#  include <Windows.h>
#endif

#include <boost/executable_path.hpp>
#include <boost/detail/executable_path_internals.hpp>

namespace boost {

#if (BOOST_OS_CYGWIN || BOOST_OS_WINDOWS)

std::string executable_path(const char* argv0)
{
  typedef std::vector<char> char_vector;
  typedef std::vector<char>::size_type size_type;
  char_vector buf(1024, 0);
  size_type size = buf.size();
  bool havePath = false;
  bool shouldContinue = true;
  do
  {
    DWORD result = GetModuleFileNameA(nullptr, &buf[0], size);
    DWORD lastError = GetLastError();
    if (result == 0)
    {
      shouldContinue = false;
    }
    else if (result < size)
    {
      havePath = true;
      shouldContinue = false;
    }
    else if (
      result == size
      && (lastError == ERROR_INSUFFICIENT_BUFFER || lastError == ERROR_SUCCESS)
      )
    {
      size *= 2;
      buf.resize(size);
    }
    else
    {
      shouldContinue = false;
    }
  } while (shouldContinue);
  if (!havePath)
  {
    return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
  }
  // On Microsoft Windows, there is no need to call boost::filesystem::canonical or
  // boost::filesystem::path::make_preferred. The path returned by GetModuleFileNameA
  // is the one we want.
  std::string ret = &buf[0];
  return ret;
}

#elif (BOOST_OS_MACOS)

#  include <mach-o/dyld.h>

std::string executable_path(const char* argv0)
{
  typedef std::vector<char> char_vector;
  char_vector buf(1024, 0);
  uint32_t size = static_cast<uint32_t>(buf.size());
  bool havePath = false;
  bool shouldContinue = true;
  do
  {
    int result = _NSGetExecutablePath(&buf[0], &size);
    if (result == -1)
    {
      buf.resize(size + 1);
      std::fill(std::begin(buf), std::end(buf), 0);
    }
    else
    {
      shouldContinue = false;
      if (buf.at(0) != 0)
      {
        havePath = true;
      }
    }
  } while (shouldContinue);
  if (!havePath)
  {
    return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
  }
  std::string path(&buf[0], size);
  boost::system::error_code ec;
  boost::filesystem::path p(
    boost::filesystem::canonical(path, boost::filesystem::current_path(), ec));
  if (ec.value() == boost::system::errc::success)
  {
    return p.make_preferred().string();
  }
  return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
}

#elif (BOOST_OS_SOLARIS)

#  include <stdlib.h>

std::string executable_path(const char* argv0)
{
  std::string ret = getexecname();
  if (ret.empty())
  {
    return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
  }
  boost::filesystem::path p(ret);
  if (!p.has_root_directory())
  {
    boost::system::error_code ec;
    p = boost::filesystem::canonical(
      p, boost::filesystem::current_path(), ec);
    if (ec.value() != boost::system::errc::success)
    {
      return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
    }
    ret = p.make_preferred().string();
  }
  return ret;
}

#elif (BOOST_OS_BSD)

#  include <sys/sysctl.h>

std::string executable_path(const char* argv0)
{
  typedef std::vector<char> char_vector;
  int mib[4]{0};
  size_t size;
  mib[0] = CTL_KERN;
  mib[1] = KERN_PROC;
  mib[2] = KERN_PROC_PATHNAME;
  mib[3] = -1;
  int result = sysctl(mib, 4, nullptr, &size, nullptr, 0);
  if (-1 == result)
  {
    return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
  }
  char_vector buf(size + 1, 0);
  result = sysctl(mib, 4, &buf[0], &size, nullptr, 0);
  if (-1 == result)
  {
    return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
  }
  std::string path(&buf[0], size);
  boost::system::error_code ec;
  boost::filesystem::path p(
    boost::filesystem::canonical(
      path, boost::filesystem::current_path(), ec));
  if (ec.value() == boost::system::errc::success)
  {
    return p.make_preferred().string();
  }
  return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
}

#elif (BOOST_OS_LINUX)

#  include <unistd.h>

std::string executable_path(const char *argv0)
{
  typedef std::vector<char> char_vector;
  typedef std::vector<char>::size_type size_type;
  char_vector buf(1024, 0);
  size_type size = buf.size();
  bool havePath = false;
  bool shouldContinue = true;
  do
  {
    ssize_t result = readlink("/proc/self/exe", &buf[0], size);
    if (result < 0)
    {
      shouldContinue = false;
    }
    else if (static_cast<size_type>(result) < size)
    {
      havePath = true;
      shouldContinue = false;
      size = result;
    }
    else
    {
      size *= 2;
      buf.resize(size);
      std::fill(std::begin(buf), std::end(buf), 0);
    }
  } while (shouldContinue);
  if (!havePath)
  {
    return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
  }
  std::string path(&buf[0], size);
  boost::system::error_code ec;
  boost::filesystem::path p(
    boost::filesystem::canonical(
      path, boost::filesystem::current_path(), ec));
  if (ec.value() == boost::system::errc::success)
  {
    return p.make_preferred().string();
  }
  return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
}

#else

std::string executable_path(const char *argv0)
{
  return detail::executable_path_fallback(argv0);
}

#endif

}

src/detail/executable_path_internals.cpp

#include <cstdio>
#include <cstdlib>
#include <algorithm>
#include <iterator>
#include <string>
#include <vector>

#include <boost/filesystem/operations.hpp>
#include <boost/filesystem/path.hpp>
#include <boost/predef.h>
#include <boost/version.hpp>
#include <boost/tokenizer.hpp>

#if (BOOST_VERSION > BOOST_VERSION_NUMBER(1,64,0))
#  include <boost/process.hpp>
#endif

#if (BOOST_OS_CYGWIN || BOOST_OS_WINDOWS)
#  include <Windows.h>
#endif

#include <boost/executable_path.hpp>
#include <boost/detail/executable_path_internals.hpp>

namespace boost {
namespace detail {

std::string GetEnv(const std::string& varName)
{
  if (varName.empty()) return "";
#if (BOOST_OS_BSD || BOOST_OS_CYGWIN || BOOST_OS_LINUX || BOOST_OS_MACOS || BOOST_OS_SOLARIS)
  char* value = std::getenv(varName.c_str());
  if (!value) return "";
  return value;
#elif (BOOST_OS_WINDOWS)
  typedef std::vector<char> char_vector;
  typedef std::vector<char>::size_type size_type;
  char_vector value(8192, 0);
  size_type size = value.size();
  bool haveValue = false;
  bool shouldContinue = true;
  do
  {
    DWORD result = GetEnvironmentVariableA(varName.c_str(), &value[0], size);
    if (result == 0)
    {
      shouldContinue = false;
    }
    else if (result < size)
    {
      haveValue = true;
      shouldContinue = false;
    }
    else
    {
      size *= 2;
      value.resize(size);
    }
  } while (shouldContinue);
  std::string ret;
  if (haveValue)
  {
    ret = &value[0];
  }
  return ret;
#else
  return "";
#endif
}

bool GetDirectoryListFromDelimitedString(
  const std::string& str,
  std::vector<std::string>& dirs)
{
  typedef boost::char_separator<char> char_separator_type;
  typedef boost::tokenizer<
    boost::char_separator<char>, std::string::const_iterator,
    std::string> tokenizer_type;
  dirs.clear();
  if (str.empty())
  {
    return false;
  }
#if (BOOST_OS_WINDOWS)
  const std::string os_pathsep(";");
#else
  const std::string os_pathsep(":");
#endif
  char_separator_type pathSep(os_pathsep.c_str());
  tokenizer_type strTok(str, pathSep);
  typename tokenizer_type::iterator strIt;
  typename tokenizer_type::iterator strEndIt = strTok.end();
  for (strIt = strTok.begin(); strIt != strEndIt; ++strIt)
  {
    dirs.push_back(*strIt);
  }
  if (dirs.empty())
  {
    return false;
  }
  return true;
}

std::string search_path(const std::string& file)
{
  if (file.empty()) return "";
  std::string ret;
#if (BOOST_VERSION > BOOST_VERSION_NUMBER(1,64,0))
  {
    namespace bp = boost::process;
    boost::filesystem::path p = bp::search_path(file);
    ret = p.make_preferred().string();
  }
#endif
  if (!ret.empty()) return ret;
  // Drat! I have to do it the hard way.
  std::string pathEnvVar = GetEnv("PATH");
  if (pathEnvVar.empty()) return "";
  std::vector<std::string> pathDirs;
  bool getDirList = GetDirectoryListFromDelimitedString(pathEnvVar, pathDirs);
  if (!getDirList) return "";
  std::vector<std::string>::const_iterator it = pathDirs.cbegin();
  std::vector<std::string>::const_iterator itEnd = pathDirs.cend();
  for ( ; it != itEnd; ++it)
  {
    boost::filesystem::path p(*it);
    p /= file;
    if (boost::filesystem::exists(p) && boost::filesystem::is_regular_file(p))
    {
      return p.make_preferred().string();
    }
  }
  return "";
}

std::string executable_path_fallback(const char *argv0)
{
  if (argv0 == nullptr) return "";
  if (argv0[0] == 0) return "";
#if (BOOST_OS_WINDOWS)
  const std::string os_sep("\\");
#else
  const std::string os_sep("/");
#endif
  if (strstr(argv0, os_sep.c_str()) != nullptr)
  {
    boost::system::error_code ec;
    boost::filesystem::path p(
      boost::filesystem::canonical(
        argv0, boost::filesystem::current_path(), ec));
    if (ec.value() == boost::system::errc::success)
    {
      return p.make_preferred().string();
    }
  }
  std::string ret = search_path(argv0);
  if (!ret.empty())
  {
    return ret;
  }
  boost::system::error_code ec;
  boost::filesystem::path p(
    boost::filesystem::canonical(
      argv0, boost::filesystem::current_path(), ec));
  if (ec.value() == boost::system::errc::success)
  {
    ret = p.make_preferred().string();
  }
  return ret;
}

}
}

include/boost/executable_path.hpp

#ifndef BOOST_EXECUTABLE_PATH_HPP_
#define BOOST_EXECUTABLE_PATH_HPP_

#pragma once

#include <string>

namespace boost {
std::string executable_path(const char * argv0);
}

#endif // BOOST_EXECUTABLE_PATH_HPP_

include/boost/detail/executable_path_internals.hpp

#ifndef BOOST_DETAIL_EXECUTABLE_PATH_INTERNALS_HPP_
#define BOOST_DETAIL_EXECUTABLE_PATH_INTERNALS_HPP_

#pragma once

#include <string>
#include <vector>

namespace boost {
namespace detail {
std::string GetEnv(const std::string& varName);
bool GetDirectoryListFromDelimitedString(
    const std::string& str,
    std::vector<std::string>& dirs);
std::string search_path(const std::string& file);
std::string executable_path_fallback(const char * argv0);
}
}

#endif // BOOST_DETAIL_EXECUTABLE_PATH_INTERNALS_HPP_

I have a complete project, including a test application and CMake build files available at SnKOpen - /cpp/executable_path/trunk. This version is more complete than the version I provided here. It is also supports more platforms.

I have tested the application on all supported operating systems in the following four scenarios.

  1. Relative path, executable in current directory: i.e. ./executable_path_test
  2. Relative path, executable in another directory: i.e. ./build/executable_path_test
  3. Full path: i.e. /some/dir/executable_path_test
  4. Executable in path, file name only: i.e. executable_path_test

In all four scenarios, both the executable_path and executable_path_fallback functions work and return the same results.

Notes

This is an updated answer to this question. I updated the answer to take into consideration user comments and suggestions. I also added a link to a project in my SVN Repository.


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