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

       inode - file inode information

       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

       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 link(2).

       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

       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

       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 timestamp

              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 filesystems.

       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,
       1970-01-01 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

           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 provided
       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 addition, 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 feature
       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 directory,
       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 locking.

       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.

       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, and 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

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

       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).

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

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       latest version of this page, can be found at

Linux                              2021-03-22                           INODE(7)