getxattr, lgetxattr, fgetxattr — retrieve an extended attribute value


#include <sys/types.h>
#include <attr/xattr.h>
ssize_t getxattr( const char *path,
  const char *name,
  void *value,
  size_t size);
ssize_t lgetxattr( const char *path,
  const char *name,
  void *value,
  size_t size);
ssize_t fgetxattr( int fd,
  const char *name,
  void *value,
  size_t size);


Extended attributes are name:value pairs associated with inodes (files, directories, symbolic links, etc.). They are extensions to the normal attributes which are associated with all inodes in the system (i.e., the stat(2) data). A complete overview of extended attributes concepts can be found in attr(5).

getxattr() retrieves the value of the extended attribute identified by name and associated with the given path in the filesystem. The length of the attribute value is returned.

lgetxattr() is identical to getxattr(), except in the case of a symbolic link, where the link itself is interrogated, not the file that it refers to.

fgetxattr() is identical to getxattr(), only the open file referred to by fd (as returned by open(2)) is interrogated in place of path.

An extended attribute name is a simple null-terminated string. The name includes a namespace prefix; there may be several, disjoint namespaces associated with an individual inode. The value of an extended attribute is a chunk of arbitrary textual or binary data of specified length.

An empty buffer of size zero can be passed into these calls to return the current size of the named extended attribute, which can be used to estimate the size of a buffer which is sufficiently large to hold the value associated with the extended attribute.

The interface is designed to allow guessing of initial buffer sizes, and to enlarge buffers when the return value indicates that the buffer provided was too small.


On success, a positive number is returned indicating the size of the extended attribute value. On failure, −1 is returned and errno is set appropriately.



The named attribute does not exist, or the process has no access to this attribute. (ENOATTR is defined to be a synonym for ENODATA in <attr/xattr.h>


Extended attributes are not supported by the filesystem, or are disabled.


The size of the value buffer is too small to hold the result.

In addition, the errors documented in stat(2) can also occur.


These system calls have been available on Linux since kernel 2.4; glibc support is provided since version 2.3.


These system calls are Linux-specific.


getfattr(1), setfattr(1), listxattr(2), open(2), removexattr(2), setxattr(2), stat(2), attr(5), symlink(7)


This page is part of release 3.54 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at−pages/.

  Copyright (C) Andreas Gruenbacher, February 2001
Copyright (C) Silicon Graphics Inc, September 2001

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