stat, fstat, lstat — get file status


#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <unistd.h>
int stat( const char *path,
  struct stat *buf);
int fstat( int fd,
  struct stat *buf);
int lstat( const char *path,
  struct stat *buf);
[Note] Note
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
|| /* Since glibc 2.10: */
_POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200112L


These functions return information about a file. No permissions are required on the file itself, but—in the case of stat() and lstat() — execute (search) permission is required on all of the directories in path that lead to the file.

stat() stats the file pointed to by path and fills in buf.

lstat() is identical to stat(), except that if path is a symbolic link, then the link itself is stat-ed, not the file that it refers to.

fstat() is identical to stat(), except that the file to be stat-ed is specified by the file descriptor fd.

All of these system calls return a stat structure, which contains the following fields:

struct stat {
  dev_t   st_dev;
/* ID of device containing file */
  ino_t   st_ino;
/* inode number */
  mode_t   st_mode;
/* protection */
  nlink_t   st_nlink;
/* number of hard links */
  uid_t   st_uid;
/* user ID of owner */
  gid_t   st_gid;
/* group ID of owner */
  dev_t   st_rdev;
/* device ID (if special file) */
  off_t   st_size;
/* total size, in bytes */
  blksize_t   st_blksize;
/* blocksize for filesystem I/O */
  blkcnt_t   st_blocks;
/* number of 512B blocks allocated */
  time_t   st_atime;
/* time of last access */
  time_t   st_mtime;
/* time of last modification */
  time_t   st_ctime;
/* time of last status change */

The st_dev field describes the device on which this file resides. (The major(3) and minor(3) macros may be useful to decompose the device ID in this field.)

The st_rdev field describes the device that this file (inode) represents.

The st_size 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.

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

Not all of the Linux filesystems implement all of the time fields. Some filesystem types allow mounting in such a way that file and/or directory accesses do not cause an update of the st_atime field. (See noatime, nodiratime, and relatime in mount(8), and related information in mount(2).) In addition, st_atime is not updated if a file is opened with the O_NOATIME; see open(2).

The field st_atime 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 routines, like mmap(2), may or may not update st_atime.

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

The field st_ctime is changed by writing or by setting inode information (i.e., owner, group, link count, mode, etc.).

The following POSIX macros are defined to check the file type using the st_mode field:


is it a regular file?




character device?


block device?


FIFO (named pipe)?


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


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

The following flags are defined for the st_mode field:

S_IFMT 0170000 bit mask for the file type bit fields
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
S_ISUID 0004000 set-user-ID bit
S_ISGID 0002000 set-group-ID bit (see below)
S_ISVTX 0001000 sticky bit (see below)
S_IRWXU 00700 mask for file owner permissions
S_IRUSR 00400 owner has read permission
S_IWUSR 00200 owner has write permission
S_IXUSR 00100 owner has execute permission
S_IRWXG 00070 mask for group permissions
S_IRGRP 00040 group has read permission
S_IWGRP 00020 group has write permission
S_IXGRP 00010 group has execute permission
S_IRWXO 00007 mask for permissions for others (not in group)
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 is 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 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.


On success, zero is returned. On error, −1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.



Search permission is denied for one of the directories in the path prefix of path. (See also path_resolution(7).)


fd is bad.


Bad address.


Too many symbolic links encountered while traversing the path.


path is too long.


A component of path does not exist, or path is an empty string.


Out of memory (i.e., kernel memory).


A component of the path prefix of path is not a directory.


path or fd refers to a file whose size, inode number, or number of blocks cannot be represented in, respectively, the types off_t, ino_t, or blkcnt_t. This error can occur when, for example, an application compiled on a 32-bit platform without −D_FILE_OFFSET_BITS=64 calls stat() on a file whose size exceeds (1<<31)-1 bytes.


These system calls conform to SVr4, 4.3BSD, POSIX.1-2001.

According to POSIX.1-2001, lstat() on a symbolic link need return valid information only in the st_size field and the file-type component of the st_mode field of the stat structure. POSIX.-2008 tightens the specification, requiring lstat() to return valid information in all fields except the permission bits in st_mode.

Use of the st_blocks and st_blksize fields may be less portable. (They were introduced in BSD. The interpretation differs between systems, and possibly on a single system when NFS mounts are involved.) 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 demanded the use of the macros S_ISDIR(), etc. The S_IF* constants are present in POSIX.1-2001 and later.

The S_ISLNK() and S_ISSOCK() macros are 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.

Other systems

Values that have been (or are) in use on various systems:

hex name ls octal description
f000 S_IFMT   170000 mask for file type
0000     000000 SCO out-of-service inode; BSD unknown type; SVID-v2 and XPG2 have both 0 and 0100000 for ordinary file
1000 S_IFIFO p| 010000 FIFO (named pipe)
2000 S_IFCHR c 020000 character special (V7)
3000 S_IFMPC   030000 multiplexed character special (V7)
4000 S_IFDIR d/ 040000 directory (V7)
5000 S_IFNAM   050000 XENIX named special file with two subtypes, distinguished by st_rdev values 1, 2
0001 S_INSEM s 000001 XENIX semaphore subtype of IFNAM
0002 S_INSHD m 000002 XENIX shared data subtype of IFNAM
6000 S_IFBLK b 060000 block special (V7)
7000 S_IFMPB   070000 multiplexed block special (V7)
8000 S_IFREG - 100000 regular (V7)
9000 S_IFCMP   110000 VxFS compressed
9000 S_IFNWK n 110000 network special (HP-UX)
a000 S_IFLNK l@ 120000 symbolic link (BSD)
b000 S_IFSHAD   130000 Solaris shadow inode for ACL (not seen by user space)
c000 S_IFSOCK s= 140000 socket (BSD; also "S_IFSOC" on VxFS)
d000 S_IFDOOR D> 150000 Solaris door
e000 S_IFWHT w% 160000 BSD whiteout (not used for inode)
0200 S_ISVTX   001000

sticky bit: save swapped text even after use (V7)

reserved (SVID-v2)

On nondirectories: don't cache this file (SunOS)

On directories: restricted deletion flag (SVID-v4.2)

0400 S_ISGID   002000

set-group-ID on execution (V7)

for directories: use BSD semantics for propagation of GID

0400 S_ENFMT   002000 System V file locking enforcement (shared with S_ISGID)
0800 S_ISUID   004000 set-user-ID on execution (V7)
0800 S_CDF   004000 directory is a context dependent file (HP-UX)

A sticky command appeared in Version 32V AT&T UNIX.


Since kernel 2.5.48, the stat structure supports nanosecond resolution for the three file timestamp fields. Glibc exposes the nanosecond component of each field using names of the form st_atim.tv_nsec if the _BSD_SOURCE or _SVID_SOURCE feature test macro is defined. These fields are specified in POSIX.1-2008, and, starting with version 2.12, glibc also exposes these field names if _POSIX_C_SOURCE is defined with the value 200809L or greater, or _XOPEN_SOURCE is defined with the value 700 or greater. If none of the aforementioned macros are defined, then the nanosecond values are exposed with names of the form st_atimensec. On filesystems that do not support subsecond timestamps, the nanosecond fields are returned with the value 0.

On Linux, lstat() will generally not trigger automounter action, whereas stat() will (but see fstatat(2)).

For most files under the /proc directory, stat() does not return the file size in the st_size field; instead the field is returned with the value 0.

Underlying kernel interface

Over time, increases in the size of the stat structure have led to three successive versions of stat(): sys_stat() (slot __NR_oldstat), sys_newstat() (slot __NR_stat), and sys_stat64() (new in kernel 2.4; slot __NR_stat64). The glibc stat() wrapper function hides these details from applications, invoking the most recent version of the system call provided by the kernel, and repacking the returned information if required for old binaries. Similar remarks apply for fstat() and lstat().


The following program calls stat() and displays selected fields in the returned stat structure.

#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <time.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

main(int argc, char *argv[])
    struct stat sb;

    if (argc != 2) {
        fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s <pathname>\n", argv[0]);

    if (stat(argv[1], &sb) == −1) {

    printf("File type:                ");

    switch (sb.st_mode & S_IFMT) {
    case S_IFBLK:  printf("block device\n");            break;
    case S_IFCHR:  printf("character device\n");        break;
    case S_IFDIR:  printf("directory\n");               break;
    case S_IFIFO:  printf("FIFO/pipe\n");               break;
    case S_IFLNK:  printf("symlink\n");                 break;
    case S_IFREG:  printf("regular file\n");            break;
    case S_IFSOCK: printf("socket\n");                  break;
    default:       printf("unknown?\n");                break;

    printf("I−node number:            %ld\n", (long) sb.st_ino);

    printf("Mode:                     %lo (octal)\n",
            (unsigned long) sb.st_mode);

    printf("Link count:               %ld\n", (long) sb.st_nlink);
    printf("Ownership:                UID=%ld   GID=%ld\n",
            (long) sb.st_uid, (long) sb.st_gid);

    printf("Preferred I/O block size: %ld bytes\n",
            (long) sb.st_blksize);
    printf("File size:                %lld bytes\n",
            (long long) sb.st_size);
    printf("Blocks allocated:         %lld\n",
            (long long) sb.st_blocks);

    printf("Last status change:       %s", ctime(&sb.st_ctime));
    printf("Last file access:         %s", ctime(&sb.st_atime));
    printf("Last file modification:   %s", ctime(&sb.st_mtime));



access(2), chmod(2), chown(2), fstatat(2), readlink(2), utime(2), capabilities(7), 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) 1992 Drew Eckhardt (, March 28, 1992
Parts Copyright (c) 1995 Nicolai Langfeldt (, 1/1/95
and Copyright (c) 2007 Michael Kerrisk <>

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.

Modified by Michael Haardt <>
Modified 1993-07-24 by Rik Faith <>
Modified 1995-05-18 by Todd Larason <>
Modified 1997-01-31 by Eric S. Raymond <>
Modified 1995-01-09 by Richard Kettlewell <>
Modified 1998-05-13 by Michael Haardt <>
Modified 1999-07-06 by aeb & Albert Cahalan
Modified 2000-01-07 by aeb
Modified 2004-06-23 by Michael Kerrisk <>
2007-06-08 mtk: Added example program
2007-07-05 mtk: Added details on underlying system call interfaces