readdir, readdir_r — read a directory


#include <dirent.h>
struct dirent *readdir( DIR *dirp);
int readdir_r( DIR *dirp,
  struct dirent *entry,
  struct dirent **result);
[Note] Note
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):


The readdir() function returns a pointer to a dirent structure representing the next directory entry in the directory stream pointed to by dirp. It returns NULL on reaching the end of the directory stream or if an error occurred.

On Linux, the dirent structure is defined as follows:

struct dirent {
  ino_t   d_ino;
/* inode number */
  off_t   d_off;
/* not an offset; see NOTES */
  unsigned short   d_reclen;
/* length of this record */
  unsigned char   d_type;
/* type of file; not supported
by all filesystem types */
  char   d_name[256];
/* filename */

The only fields in the dirent structure that are mandated by POSIX.1 are: d_name[], of unspecified size, with at most NAME_MAX characters preceding the terminating null byte ('\0'); and (as an XSI extension) d_ino. The other fields are unstandardized, and not present on all systems; see NOTES below for some further details.

The data returned by readdir() may be overwritten by subsequent calls to readdir() for the same directory stream.

The readdir_r() function is a reentrant version of readdir(). It reads the next directory entry from the directory stream dirp, and returns it in the caller-allocated buffer pointed to by entry. (See NOTES for information on allocating this buffer.) A pointer to the returned item is placed in *result; if the end of the directory stream was encountered, then NULL is instead returned in *result.


On success, readdir() returns a pointer to a dirent structure. (This structure may be statically allocated; do not attempt to free(3) it.) If the end of the directory stream is reached, NULL is returned and errno is not changed. If an error occurs, NULL is returned and errno is set appropriately.

The readdir_r() function returns 0 on success. On error, it returns a positive error number (listed under ERRORS). If the end of the directory stream is reached, readdir_r() returns 0, and returns NULL in *result.



Invalid directory stream descriptor dirp.


Multithreading (see pthreads(7))

The readdir() function is not thread-safe.

The readdir_r() function is thread-safe.


SVr4, 4.3BSD, POSIX.1-2001.


Only the fields d_name and d_ino are specified in POSIX.1-2001. The remaining fields are available on many, but not all systems. Under glibc, programs can check for the availability of the fields not defined in POSIX.1 by testing whether the macros _DIRENT_HAVE_D_NAMLEN, _DIRENT_HAVE_D_RECLEN, _DIRENT_HAVE_D_OFF, or _DIRENT_HAVE_D_TYPE are defined.

The value returned in d_off is the same as would be returned by calling telldir(3) at the current position in the directory stream. Be aware that despite its type and name, the d_off field is seldom any kind of directory offset on modern filesystems. Applications should treat this field as an opaque value, making no assumptions about its contents; see also telldir(3).

Other than Linux, the d_type field is available mainly only on BSD systems. This field makes it possible to avoid the expense of calling lstat(2) if further actions depend on the type of the file. If the _BSD_SOURCE feature test macro is defined, then glibc defines the following macro constants for the value returned in d_type:


This is a block device.


This is a character device.


This is a directory.


This is a named pipe (FIFO).


This is a symbolic link.


This is a regular file.


This is a UNIX domain socket.


The file type is unknown.

If the file type could not be determined, the value DT_UNKNOWN is returned in d_type.

Currently, only some filesystems (among them: Btrfs, ext2, ext3, and ext4) have full support for returning the file type in d_type. All applications must properly handle a return of DT_UNKNOWN.

Since POSIX.1 does not specify the size of the d_name field, and other nonstandard fields may precede that field within the dirent structure, portable applications that use readdir_r() should allocate the buffer whose address is passed in entry as follows:

name_max = pathconf(dirpath, _PC_NAME_MAX);
if (name_max == −1)         /* Limit not defined, or error */
    name_max = 255;         /* Take a guess */
len = offsetof(struct dirent, d_name) + name_max + 1;
entryp = malloc(len);

(POSIX.1 requires that d_name is the last field in a struct dirent.)


getdents(2), read(2), closedir(3), dirfd(3), ftw(3), offsetof(3), opendir(3), rewinddir(3), scandir(3), seekdir(3), telldir(3)


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) 1993 David Metcalfe (

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this
manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the
entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a
permission notice identical to this one.

Since the Linux kernel and libraries are constantly changing, this
manual page may be incorrect or out-of-date.  The author(s) assume no
responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from
the use of the information contained herein.  The author(s) may not
have taken the same level of care in the production of this manual,
which is licensed free of charge, as they might when working

Formatted or processed versions of this manual, if unaccompanied by
the source, must acknowledge the copyright and authors of this work.

References consulted:
    Linux libc source code
    Lewine's _POSIX Programmer's Guide_ (O'Reilly & Associates, 1991)
    386BSD man pages
Modified Sat Jul 24 16:09:49 1993 by Rik Faith (
Modified 11 June 1995 by Andries Brouwer (
Modified 22 July 1996 by Andries Brouwer (
2007-07-30 Ulrich Drepper <>, mtk:
    Rework discussion of nonstandard structure fields.
2008-09-11, mtk, Document readdir_r().