Manpage of STAT


Section: Linux Programmer's Manual (2)
Updated: 2017-09-15


stat, fstat, lstat, fstatat - get file status  


#include <sys/types.h>#include <sys/stat.h>#include <unistd.h>int stat(const char *pathname, struct stat *statbuf);int fstat(int fd, struct stat *statbuf);int lstat(const char *pathname, struct stat *statbuf);#include <fcntl.h>           /* Definition of AT_* constants */
#include <sys/stat.h>int fstatat(int dirfd, const char *pathname, struct stat *statbuf,            int flags);

Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):


/* glibc 2.19 and earlier */ _BSD_SOURCE

    || /* Since glibc 2.20 */ _DEFAULT_SOURCE

    || _XOPEN_SOURCE >= 500

    || /* Since glibc 2.10: */ _POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200112L


Since glibc 2.10:
_POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200809L
Before glibc 2.10:


These functions return information about a file, in the buffer pointed to by statbuf. No permissions are required on the file itself, but---in the case of stat(), fstatat(), and lstat()---execute (search) permission is required on all of the directories in pathnamethat lead to the file.

stat() and fstatat() retrieve information about the file pointed to by pathname; the differences for fstatat() are described below.

lstat() is identical to stat(), except that if pathnameis a symbolic link, then it returns information about the link itself, not the file that it refers to.

fstat() is identical to stat(), except that the file about which information is to be retrieved is specified by the file descriptor fd.  

The stat structure

All of these system calls return a statstructure, 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;        /* File type and mode */
    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;     /* Block size for filesystem I/O */
    blkcnt_t  st_blocks;      /* Number of 512B blocks allocated */

    /* Since Linux 2.6, the kernel supports nanosecond
       precision for the following timestamp fields.
       For the details before Linux 2.6, see NOTES. */

    struct timespec st_atim;  /* Time of last access */
    struct timespec st_mtim;  /* Time of last modification */
    struct timespec st_ctim;  /* Time of last status change */

#define st_atime st_atim.tv_sec /* Backward compatibility */ #define st_mtime st_mtim.tv_sec #define st_ctime st_ctim.tv_sec };

Note: the order of fields in the statstructure varies somewhat across architectures. In addition, the definition above does not show the padding bytes that may be present between some fields on various architectures. Consult the glibc and kernel source code if you need to know the details.

Note: for performance and simplicity reasons, different fields in the statstructure may contain state information from different moments during the execution of the system call. For example, if st_modeor st_uidis changed by another process by calling chmod(2) or chown(2), stat() might return the old st_modetogether with the new st_uid, or the old st_uidtogether with the new st_mode.

The fields in the statstructure are as follows:

This 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.)
This field contains the file's inode number.
This field contains the file type and mode. See inode(7) for further information.
This field contains the number of hard links to the file.
This field contains the user ID of the owner of the file.
This field contains the ID of the group owner of the file.
This field describes the device that this file (inode) represents.
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 byte.
This field gives the "preferred" block size for efficient filesystem I/O.
This field indicates the number of blocks allocated to the file, in 512-byte units. (This may be smaller than st_size/512 when the file has holes.)
This is the file's last access timestamp.
This is the file's last modification timestamp.
This is the file's last status change timestamp.

For further information on the above fields, see inode(7).  


The fstatat() system call operates in exactly the same way as stat(), except for the differences described here.

If the pathname given in pathnameis relative, then it is interpreted relative to the directory referred to by the file descriptor dirfd(rather than relative to the current working directory of the calling process, as is done by stat() for a relative pathname).

If pathnameis relative and dirfdis the special value AT_FDCWD, then pathnameis interpreted relative to the current working directory of the calling process (like stat()).

If pathnameis absolute, then dirfdis ignored.

flagscan either be 0, or include one or more of the following flags ORed:

AT_EMPTY_PATH (since Linux 2.6.39)
If pathnameis an empty string, operate on the file referred to by dirfd(which may have been obtained using the open(2) O_PATHflag). In this case, dirfdcan refer to any type of file, not just a directory. If dirfdis AT_FDCWD, the call operates on the current working directory. This flag is Linux-specific; define _GNU_SOURCEto obtain its definition.
AT_NO_AUTOMOUNT (since Linux 2.6.38)
Don't automount the terminal ("basename") component of pathnameif it is a directory that is an automount point. This allows the caller to gather attributes of an automount point (rather than the location it would mount). This flag can be used in tools that scan directories to prevent mass-automounting of a directory of automount points. The AT_NO_AUTOMOUNTflag has no effect if the mount point has already been mounted over. This flag is Linux-specific; define _GNU_SOURCEto obtain its definition.
If pathnameis a symbolic link, do not dereference it: instead return information about the link itself, like lstat(). (By default, fstatat() dereferences symbolic links, like stat().)

See openat(2) for an explanation of the need for fstatat().  


On success, zero is returned. On error, -1 is returned, and errnois set appropriately.  


Search permission is denied for one of the directories in the path prefix of pathname. (See also path_resolution(7).)
fdis not a valid open file descriptor.
Bad address.
Too many symbolic links encountered while traversing the path.
pathnameis too long.
A component of pathnamedoes not exist, or pathnameis an empty string and AT_EMPTY_PATHwas not specified in flags.
Out of memory (i.e., kernel memory).
A component of the path prefix of pathnameis not a directory.
pathnameor fdrefers 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=64calls stat() on a file whose size exceeds (1<<31)-1bytes.

The following additional errors can occur for fstatat():

dirfdis not a valid file descriptor.
Invalid flag specified in flags.
pathnameis relative and dirfdis a file descriptor referring to a file other than a directory.


fstatat() was added to Linux in kernel 2.6.16; library support was added to glibc in version 2.4.  


stat(), fstat(), lstat(): SVr4, 4.3BSD, POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1.2008.

fstatat(): POSIX.1-2008.

According to POSIX.1-2001, lstat() on a symbolic link need return valid information only in the st_sizefield and the file type of the st_modefield of the statstructure. POSIX.1-2008 tightens the specification, requiring lstat() to return valid information in all fields except the mode bits in st_mode.

Use of the st_blocksand st_blksizefields 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.)  


On Linux, lstat() will generally not trigger automounter action, whereas stat() will (but see the description of the fstatat() AT_NO_AUTOMOUNTfag, above).  

Timestamp fields

Older kernels and older standards did not support nanosecond timestamp fields. Instead, there were three timestamp fields---st_atime, st_mtime, and st_ctime---typed as time_tthat recorded timestamps with one-second precision.

Since kernel 2.5.48, the statstructure supports nanosecond resolution for the three file timestamp fields. The nanosecond components of each timestamp are available via names of the form st_atim.tv_nsec, if suitable feature test macros are defined. Nanosecond timestamps were standardized in POSIX.1-2008, and, starting with version 2.12, glibc exposes the nanosecond component names if _POSIX_C_SOURCEis defined with the value 200809L or greater, or _XOPEN_SOURCEis defined with the value 700 or greater. Up to and including glibc 2.19, the definitions of the nanoseconds components are also defined if _BSD_SOURCEor _SVID_SOURCEis defined. If none of the aforementioned macros are defined, then the nanosecond values are exposed with names of the form st_atimensec.  

C library/kernel differences

Over time, increases in the size of the statstructure have led to three successive versions of stat(): sys_stat() (slot __NR_oldstat), sys_newstat() (slot __NR_stat), and sys_stat64()(slot __NR_stat64) on 32-bit platforms such as i386. The first two versions were already present in Linux 1.0 (albeit with different names); the last was added in Linux 2.4. Similar remarks apply for fstat() and lstat().

The kernel-internal versions of the statstructure dealt with by the different versions are, respectively:

The original structure, with rather narrow fields, and no padding.
Larger st_inofield and padding added to various parts of the structure to allow for future expansion.
Even larger st_inofield, larger st_uidand st_gidfields to accommodate the Linux-2.4 expansion of UIDs and GIDs to 32 bits, and various other enlarged fields and further padding in the structure. (Various padding bytes were eventually consumed in Linux 2.6, with the advent of 32-bit device IDs and nanosecond components for the timestamp fields.)

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.

On modern 64-bit systems, life is simpler: there is a single stat() system call and the kernel deals with a statstructure that contains fields of a sufficient size.

The underlying system call employed by the glibc fstatat() wrapper function is actually called fstatat64() or, on some architectures, newfstatat().  


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

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

int 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("ID of containing device:  [%lx,%lx]\n",          (long) major(sb.st_dev), (long) minor(sb.st_dev));

    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));

    exit(EXIT_SUCCESS); }  


ls(1), stat(1), access(2), chmod(2), chown(2), readlink(2), utime(2), capabilities(7), inode(7), symlink(7)



The stat structure
Timestamp fields
C library/kernel differences

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