realpath — return the canonicalized absolute pathname


#include <limits.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
char *realpath( const char *path,
  char *resolved_path);
[Note] Note
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):


realpath() expands all symbolic links and resolves references to /./, /../ and extra '/' characters in the null-terminated string named by path to produce a canonicalized absolute pathname. The resulting pathname is stored as a null-terminated string, up to a maximum of PATH_MAX bytes, in the buffer pointed to by resolved_path. The resulting path will have no symbolic link, /./ or /../ components.

If resolved_path is specified as NULL, then realpath() uses malloc(3) to allocate a buffer of up to PATH_MAX bytes to hold the resolved pathname, and returns a pointer to this buffer. The caller should deallocate this buffer using free(3).


If there is no error, realpath() returns a pointer to the resolved_path.

Otherwise, it returns a NULL pointer, the contents of the array resolved_path are undefined, and errno is set to indicate the error.



Read or search permission was denied for a component of the path prefix.


path is NULL. (In glibc versions before 2.3, this error is also returned if resolved_path is NULL.)


An I/O error occurred while reading from the filesystem.


Too many symbolic links were encountered in translating the pathname.


A component of a pathname exceeded NAME_MAX characters, or an entire pathname exceeded PATH_MAX characters.


The named file does not exist.


A component of the path prefix is not a directory.


On Linux, this function appeared in libc 4.5.21.


4.4BSD, POSIX.1-2001.

POSIX.1-2001 says that the behavior if resolved_path is NULL is implementation-defined. POSIX.1-2008 specifies the behavior described in this page.


In 4.4BSD and Solaris, the limit on the pathname length is MAXPATHLEN (found in <sys/param.h> SUSv2 prescribes PATH_MAX and NAME_MAX, as found in <limits.h> or provided by the pathconf(3) function. A typical source fragment would be

#ifdef PATH_MAX
  path_max = PATH_MAX;
  path_max = pathconf(path, _PC_PATH_MAX);
  if (path_max <= 0)
    path_max = 4096;

(But see the BUGS section.)

The prototype of realpath() is given in <unistd.h> in libc4 and libc5, but in <stdlib.h> everywhere else.

GNU extensions

If the call fails with either EACCES or ENOENT and resolved_path is not NULL, then the prefix of path that is not readable or does not exist is returned in resolved_path.


The POSIX.1-2001 standard version of this function is broken by design, since it is impossible to determine a suitable size for the output buffer, resolved_path. According to POSIX.1-2001 a buffer of size PATH_MAX suffices, but PATH_MAX need not be a defined constant, and may have to be obtained using pathconf(3). And asking pathconf(3) does not really help, since, on the one hand POSIX warns that the result of pathconf(3) may be huge and unsuitable for mallocing memory, and on the other hand pathconf(3) may return −1 to signify that PATH_MAX is not bounded. The resolved_path == NULL feature, not standardized in POSIX.1-2001, but standardized in POSIX.1-2008, allows this design problem to be avoided.

The libc4 and libc5 implementation contained a buffer overflow (fixed in libc-5.4.13). Thus, set-user-ID programs like mount(8) needed a private version.


readlink(2), canonicalize_file_name(3), getcwd(3), pathconf(3), sysconf(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) 1999 Andries Brouwer (

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.

Rewritten old page, 990824,
2004-12-14, mtk, added discussion of resolved_path == NULL