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> it competes with the fopen() system call

Nitpick: fopen() is not a syscall, it's part of stdio which is in libc (in user mode). The nearest POSIX syscall equivalent is open(2), but stdio does things like buffering and formatting in user mode on top. It's also more portable to non-Unix because stdio is in the C language spec.

I had heard this phrase before as simply "it competes with fopen()".

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