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STAT(2) System Calls Manual STAT(2)


stat, lstat, fstat, fstatatget file status


Standard C Library (libc, -lc)


#include <sys/stat.h>

stat(const char * restrict path, struct stat * restrict sb);

lstat(const char * restrict path, struct stat * restrict sb);

fstat(int fd, struct stat *sb);

fstatat(int fd, const char *path, struct stat *buf, int flag);


The () system call obtains information about the file pointed to by path. Read, write or execute permission of the named file is not required, but all directories listed in the path name leading to the file must be searchable.

The () system call is like stat() except in the case where the named file is a symbolic link, in which case lstat() returns information about the link, while stat() returns information about the file the link references.

The () system call obtains the same information about an open file known by the file descriptor fd.

The () system call is equivalent to stat() and lstat() except in the case where the path specifies a relative path. In this case the status is retrieved from a file relative to the directory associated with the file descriptor fd instead of the current working directory.

The values for the flag are constructed by a bitwise-inclusive OR of flags from the following list, defined in <fcntl.h>:

If path names a symbolic link, the status of the symbolic link is returned.

If () is passed the special value AT_FDCWD in the fd parameter, the current working directory is used and the behavior is identical to a call to stat() or lstat() respectively, depending on whether or not the AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW bit is set in flag.

The sb argument is a pointer to a stat structure as defined by <sys/stat.h> and into which information is placed concerning the file.

The fields of struct stat related to the file system are as follows:

The numeric ID of the device containing the file.
The file's inode number.
The number of hard links to the file.

The st_dev and st_ino fields together identify the file uniquely within the system.

The time-related fields of struct stat are as follows:

Time when file data last accessed. Changed by the mknod(2), utimes(2), read(2) and readv(2) system calls.
Time when file data last modified. Changed by the mkdir(2), mkfifo(2), mknod(2), utimes(2), write(2) and writev(2) system calls.
Time when file status was last changed (inode data modification). Changed by the chflags(2), chmod(2), chown(2), creat(2), link(2), mkdir(2), mkfifo(2), mknod(2), rename(2), rmdir(2), symlink(2), truncate(2), unlink(2), utimes(2), write(2) and writev(2) system calls.
Time when the inode was created.

The following time-related macros are defined for compatibility:

#define	st_atime		st_atim.tv_sec
#define	st_mtime		st_mtim.tv_sec
#define	st_ctime		st_ctim.tv_sec
#define	st_birthtime		st_birthtim.tv_sec

#define	st_atimespec		st_atim
#define	st_mtimespec		st_mtim
#define	st_ctimespec		st_ctim
#define	st_birthtimespec	st_birthtim

The size-related fields of the struct stat are as follows:

The file size in bytes.
The optimal I/O block size for the file.
The actual number of blocks allocated for the file in 512-byte units. As short symbolic links are stored in the inode, this number may be zero.

The access-related fields of struct stat are as follows:

The user ID of the file's owner.
The group ID of the file.
Status of the file (see below).

The status information word st_mode has the following bits:

#define S_IFMT   0170000  /* type of file mask */
#define S_IFIFO  0010000  /* named pipe (fifo) */
#define S_IFCHR  0020000  /* character special */
#define S_IFDIR  0040000  /* directory */
#define S_IFBLK  0060000  /* block special */
#define S_IFREG  0100000  /* regular */
#define S_IFLNK  0120000  /* symbolic link */
#define S_IFSOCK 0140000  /* socket */
#define S_IFWHT  0160000  /* whiteout */
#define S_ISUID  0004000  /* set user id on execution */
#define S_ISGID  0002000  /* set group id on execution */
#define S_ISVTX  0001000  /* save swapped text even after use */
#define S_IRWXU  0000700  /* RWX mask for owner */
#define S_IRUSR  0000400  /* read permission, owner */
#define S_IWUSR  0000200  /* write permission, owner */
#define S_IXUSR  0000100  /* execute/search permission, owner */
#define S_IRWXG  0000070  /* RWX mask for group */
#define S_IRGRP  0000040  /* read permission, group */
#define S_IWGRP  0000020  /* write permission, group */
#define S_IXGRP  0000010  /* execute/search permission, group */
#define S_IRWXO  0000007  /* RWX mask for other */
#define S_IROTH  0000004  /* read permission, other */
#define S_IWOTH  0000002  /* write permission, other */
#define S_IXOTH  0000001  /* execute/search permission, other */

For a list of access modes, see <sys/stat.h>, access(2) and chmod(2). The following macros are available to test whether a st_mode value passed in the m argument corresponds to a file of the specified type:

Test for a block special file.
Test for a character special file.
Test for a directory.
Test for a pipe or FIFO special file.
Test for a symbolic link.
Test for a regular file.
Test for a socket.
Test for a whiteout.

The macros evaluate to a non-zero value if the test is true or to the value 0 if the test is false.


Upon successful completion, the value 0 is returned; otherwise the value -1 is returned and the global variable errno is set to indicate the error.


Previous versions of the system used different types for the st_dev, st_uid, st_gid, st_rdev, st_size, st_blksize and st_blocks fields.


The stat() and lstat() system calls will fail if:

Search permission is denied for a component of the path prefix.
The sb or path argument points to an invalid address.
An I/O error occurred while reading from or writing to the file system.
Too many symbolic links were encountered in translating the pathname.
A component of a pathname exceeded 255 characters, or an entire path name exceeded 1023 characters.
The named file does not exist.
A component of the path prefix is not a directory.
The file size in bytes cannot be represented correctly in the structure pointed to by sb.

The fstat() system call will fail if:

The fd argument is not a valid open file descriptor.
The sb argument points to an invalid address.
An I/O error occurred while reading from or writing to the file system.
The file size in bytes cannot be represented correctly in the structure pointed to by sb.

In addition to the errors returned by the lstat(), the fstatat() may fail if:

The path argument does not specify an absolute path and the fd argument is neither AT_FDCWD nor a valid file descriptor open for searching.
The value of the flag argument is not valid.
The path argument is not an absolute path and fd is neither AT_FDCWD nor a file descriptor associated with a directory.


access(2), chmod(2), chown(2), fhstat(2), statfs(2), utimes(2), sticky(7), symlink(7)


The stat() and fstat() system calls are expected to conform to IEEE Std 1003.1-1990 (“POSIX.1”). The fstatat() system call follows The Open Group Extended API Set 2 specification.


The stat() and fstat() system calls appeared in Version 7 AT&T UNIX. The lstat() system call appeared in 4.2BSD. The fstatat() system call appeared in FreeBSD 8.0.


Applying fstat() to a socket returns a zeroed buffer, except for the blocksize field, and a unique device and inode number.

January 14, 2016 Debian