inode(7) — Linux manual page


INODE(7)                  Linux Programmer's Manual                 INODE(7)

NAME         top

       inode - file inode information

DESCRIPTION         top

       Each file has an inode containing metadata about the file.  An
       application can retrieve this metadata using stat(2) (or related
       calls), which returns a stat structure, or statx(2), which returns a
       statx structure.

       The following is a list of the information typically found in, or
       associated with, the file inode, with the names of the corresponding
       structure fields returned by stat(2) and statx(2):

       Device where inode resides
              stat.st_dev; statx.stx_dev_minor and statx.stx_dev_major

              Each inode (as well as the associated file) resides in a
              filesystem that is hosted on a device.  That device is
              identified by the combination of its major ID (which
              identifies the general class of device) and minor ID (which
              identifies a specific instance in the general class).

       Inode number
              stat.st_ino; statx.stx_ino

              Each file in a filesystem has a unique inode number.  Inode
              numbers are guaranteed to be unique only within a filesystem
              (i.e., the same inode numbers may be used by different
              filesystems, which is the reason that hard links may not cross
              filesystem boundaries).  This field contains the file's inode

       File type and mode
              stat.st_mode; statx.stx_mode

              See the discussion of file type and mode, below.

       Link count
              stat.st_nlink; statx.stx_nlink

              This field contains the number of hard links to the file.
              Additional links to an existing file are created using

       User ID
              st_uid stat.st_uid; statx.stx_uid

              This field records the user ID of the owner of the file.  For
              newly created files, the file user ID is the effective user ID
              of the creating process.  The user ID of a file can be changed
              using chown(2).

       Group ID
              stat.st_gid; statx.stx_gid

              The inode records the ID of the group owner of the file.  For
              newly created files, the file group ID is either the group ID
              of the parent directory or the effective group ID of the
              creating process, depending on whether or not the set-group-ID
              bit is set on the parent directory (see below).  The group ID
              of a file can be changed using chown(2).

       Device represented by this inode
              stat.st_rdev; statx.stx_rdev_minor and statx.stx_rdev_major

              If this file (inode) represents a device, then the inode
              records the major and minor ID of that device.

       File size
              stat.st_size; statx.stx_size

              This field gives the size of the file (if it is a regular file
              or a symbolic link) in bytes.  The size of a symbolic link is
              the length of the pathname it contains, without a terminating
              null byte.

       Preferred block size for I/O
              stat.st_blksize; statx.stx_blksize

              This field gives the "preferred" blocksize for efficient
              filesystem I/O.  (Writing to a file in smaller chunks may
              cause an inefficient read-modify-rewrite.)

       Number of blocks allocated to the file
              stat.st_blocks; statx.stx_size

              This field indicates the number of blocks allocated to the
              file, 512-byte units, (This may be smaller than st_size/512
              when the file has holes.)

              The POSIX.1 standard notes that the unit for the st_blocks
              member of the stat structure is not defined by the standard.
              On many  implementations it is 512 bytes; on a few systems, a
              different unit is used, such as 1024.  Furthermore, the unit
              may differ on a per-filesystem basis.

       Last access timestamp (atime)
              stat.st_atime; statx.stx_atime

              This is the file's last access timestamp.  It is changed by
              file accesses, for example, by execve(2), mknod(2), pipe(2),
              utime(2), and read(2) (of more than zero bytes).  Other
              interfaces, such as mmap(2), may or may not update the atime

              Some filesystem types allow mounting in such a way that file
              and/or directory accesses do not cause an update of the atime
              timestamp.  (See noatime, nodiratime, and relatime in
              mount(8), and related information in mount(2).)  In addition,
              the atime timestamp is not updated if a file is opened with
              the O_NOATIME flag; see open(2).

       File creation (birth) timestamp (btime)
              (not returned in the stat structure); statx.stx_btime

              The file's creation timestamp.  This is set on file creation
              and not changed subsequently.

              The btime timestamp was not historically present on UNIX
              systems and is not currently supported by most Linux

       Last modification timestamp (mtime)
              stat.st_mtime; statx.stx_mtime

              This is the file's last modification timestamp.  It is changed
              by file modifications, for example, by mknod(2), truncate(2),
              utime(2), and write(2) (of more than zero bytes).  Moreover,
              the mtime timestamp of a directory is changed by the creation
              or deletion of files in that directory.  The mtime timestamp
              is not changed for changes in owner, group, hard link count,
              or mode.

       Last status change timestamp (ctime)
              stat.st_ctime; statx.stx_ctime

              This is the file's last status change timestamp.  It is
              changed by writing or by setting inode information (i.e.,
              owner, group, link count, mode, etc.).

       The timestamp fields report time measured with a zero point at the
       Epoch, 1970-01-02 00:00:00 +0000, UTC (see time(7)).

       Nanosecond timestamps are supported on XFS, JFS, Btrfs, and ext4
       (since Linux 2.6.23).  Nanosecond timestamps are not supported in
       ext2, ext3, and Reiserfs.  In order to return timestamps with
       nanosecond precision, the timestamp fields in the stat and statx
       structures are defined as structures that include a nanosecond
       component.  See stat(2) and statx(2) for details.  On filesystems
       that do not support subsecond timestamps, the nanosecond fields in
       the stat and statx structures are returned with the value 0.

   The file type and mode
       The stat.st_mode field (for statx(2), the statx.stx_mode field)
       contains the file type and mode.

       POSIX refers to the stat.st_mode bits corresponding to the mask
       S_IFMT (see below) as the file type, the 12 bits corresponding to the
       mask 07777 as the file mode bits and the least significant 9 bits
       (0777) as the file permission bits.

       The following mask values are defined for the file type:

           S_IFMT     0170000   bit mask for the file type bit field

           S_IFSOCK   0140000   socket
           S_IFLNK    0120000   symbolic link
           S_IFREG    0100000   regular file
           S_IFBLK    0060000   block device
           S_IFDIR    0040000   directory
           S_IFCHR    0020000   character device
           S_IFIFO    0010000   FIFO

       Thus, to test for a regular file (for example), one could write:

           stat(pathname, &sb);
           if ((sb.st_mode & S_IFMT) == S_IFREG) {
               /* Handle regular file */

       Because tests of the above form are common, additional macros are
       defined by POSIX to allow the test of the file type in st_mode to be
       written more concisely:

           S_ISREG(m)  is it a regular file?

           S_ISDIR(m)  directory?

           S_ISCHR(m)  character device?

           S_ISBLK(m)  block device?

           S_ISFIFO(m) FIFO (named pipe)?

           S_ISLNK(m)  symbolic link?  (Not in POSIX.1-1996.)

           S_ISSOCK(m) socket?  (Not in POSIX.1-1996.)

       The preceding code snippet could thus be rewritten as:

           stat(pathname, &sb);
           if (S_ISREG(sb.st_mode)) {
               /* Handle regular file */

       The definitions of most of the above file type test macros are pro‐
       vided if any of the following feature test macros is defined:
       _BSD_SOURCE (in glibc 2.19 and earlier), _SVID_SOURCE (in glibc 2.19
       and earlier), or _DEFAULT_SOURCE (in glibc 2.20 and later).  In addi‐
       tion, definitions of all of the above macros except S_IFSOCK and
       S_ISSOCK() are provided if _XOPEN_SOURCE is defined.

       The definition of S_IFSOCK can also be exposed either by defining
       _XOPEN_SOURCE with a value of 500 or greater or (since glibc 2.24) by
       defining both _XOPEN_SOURCE and _XOPEN_SOURCE_EXTENDED.

       The definition of S_ISSOCK() is exposed if any of the following fea‐
       ture test macros is defined: _BSD_SOURCE (in glibc 2.19 and earlier),
       _DEFAULT_SOURCE (in glibc 2.20 and later), _XOPEN_SOURCE with a value
       of 500 or greater, _POSIX_C_SOURCE with a value of 200112L or
       greater, or (since glibc 2.24) by defining both _XOPEN_SOURCE and

       The following mask values are defined for the file mode component of
       the st_mode field:

           S_ISUID     04000   set-user-ID bit (see execve(2))
           S_ISGID     02000   set-group-ID bit (see below)
           S_ISVTX     01000   sticky bit (see below)

           S_IRWXU     00700   owner has read, write, and execute permission
           S_IRUSR     00400   owner has read permission
           S_IWUSR     00200   owner has write permission
           S_IXUSR     00100   owner has execute permission

           S_IRWXG     00070   group has read, write, and execute permission
           S_IRGRP     00040   group has read permission
           S_IWGRP     00020   group has write permission
           S_IXGRP     00010   group has execute permission

           S_IRWXO     00007   others (not in group) have read, write, and
                               execute permission
           S_IROTH     00004   others have read permission
           S_IWOTH     00002   others have write permission
           S_IXOTH     00001   others have execute permission

       The set-group-ID bit (S_ISGID) has several special uses.  For a
       directory, it indicates that BSD semantics are to be used for that
       directory: files created there inherit their group ID from the direc‐
       tory, not from the effective group ID of the creating process, and
       directories created there will also get the S_ISGID bit set.  For an
       executable file, the set-group-ID bit causes the effective group ID
       of a process that executes the file to change as described in
       execve(2).  For a file that does not have the group execution bit
       (S_IXGRP) set, the set-group-ID bit indicates mandatory file/record

       The sticky bit (S_ISVTX) on a directory means that a file in that
       directory can be renamed or deleted only by the owner of the file, by
       the owner of the directory, and by a privileged process.

CONFORMING TO         top

       If you need to obtain the definition of the blkcnt_t or blksize_t
       types from <sys/stat.h>, then define _XOPEN_SOURCE with the value 500
       or greater (before including any header files).

       POSIX.1-1990 did not describe the S_IFMT, S_IFSOCK, S_IFLNK, S_IFREG,
       S_IFBLK, S_IFDIR, S_IFCHR, S_IFIFO, S_ISVTX constants, but instead
       specified the use of the macros S_ISDIR(), and so on.  The S_IF*
       constants are present in POSIX.1-2001 and later.

       The S_ISLNK() and S_ISSOCK() macros were not in POSIX.1-1996, but
       both are present in POSIX.1-2001; the former is from SVID 4, the
       latter from SUSv2.

       UNIX V7 (and later systems) had S_IREAD, S_IWRITE, S_IEXEC, where
       POSIX prescribes the synonyms S_IRUSR, S_IWUSR, S_IXUSR.

NOTES         top

       For pseudofiles that are autogenerated by the kernel, the file size
       (stat.st_size; statx.stx_size) reported by the kernel is not
       accurate.  For example, the value 0 is returned for many files under
       the /proc directory, while various files under /sys report a size of
       4096 bytes, even though the file content is smaller.  For such files,
       one should simply try to read as many bytes as possible (and append
       '\0' to the returned buffer if it is to be interpreted as a string).

SEE ALSO         top

       stat(1), stat(2), statx(2), symlink(7)

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of release 5.08 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
       description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
       latest version of this page, can be found at

Linux                            2020-08-13                         INODE(7)

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