getdents - get directory entries


int getdents(unsigned int fd, struct linux_dirent *dirp, unsigned int count);


This is not the function you are interested in. Look at readdir(3) for the POSIX conforming C library interface. This page documents the bare kernel system call interface.

The system call getdents() reads several linux_dirent structures from the directory referred to by the open file descriptor fd into the buffer pointed to by dirp. The argument count specifies the size of that buffer.

The linux_dirent structure is declared as follows:

struct linux_dirent { unsigned long d_ino; /* Inode number */ unsigned long d_off; /* Offset to next linux_dirent */ unsigned short d_reclen; /* Length of this linux_dirent */ char d_name[]; /* Filename (null-terminated) */ /* length is actually (d_reclen - 2 - offsetof(struct linux_dirent, d_name) */ /* char pad; // Zero padding byte char d_type; // File type (only since Linux 2.6.4; // offset is (d_reclen - 1)) */


d_ino is an inode number. d_off is the distance from the start of the directory to the start of the next linux_dirent. d_reclen is the size of this entire linux_dirent. d_name is a null-terminated filename.

d_type is a byte at the end of the structure that indicates the file type. It contains one of the following values (defined in <dirent.h>):
DT_BLK This is a block device.
DT_CHR This is a character device.
DT_DIR This is a directory.
DT_FIFO This is a named pipe (FIFO).
DT_LNK This is a symbolic link.
DT_REG This is a regular file.
DT_SOCK This is a Unix domain socket.
DT_UNKNOWN The file type is unknown.
The d_type field is implemented since Linux 2.6.4. It occupies a space that was previously a zero-filled padding byte in the linux_dirent structure. Thus, on kernels before 2.6.3, attempting to access this field always provides the value 0 (DT_UNKNOWN).

Currently, only some file systems (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.


On success, the number of bytes read is returned. On end of directory, 0 is returned. On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.


EBADF Invalid file descriptor fd.
EFAULT Argument points outside the calling process’s address space.
EINVAL Result buffer is too small.
ENOENT No such directory.
 File descriptor does not refer to a directory.




Glibc does not provide a wrapper for this system call; call it using syscall(2). You will need to define the linux_dirent structure yourself.

This call supersedes readdir(2).


The program below demonstrates the use of getdents(). The following output shows an example of what we see when running this program on an ext2 directory:

$ ./a.out /testfs/ --------------- nread=120 --------------- i-node# file type d_reclen d_off d_name 2 directory 16 12 . 2 directory 16 24 .. 11 directory 24 44 lost+found 12 regular 16 56 a 228929 directory 16 68 sub 16353 directory 16 80 sub2 130817 directory 16 4096 sub3

Program source

#define _GNU_SOURCE #include <dirent.h> /* Defines DT_* constants */ #include <fcntl.h> #include <stdio.h> #include <unistd.h> #include <stdlib.h> #include <sys/stat.h> #include <sys/syscall.h>

#define handle_error(msg) \ do { perror(msg); exit(EXIT_FAILURE); } while (0)

struct linux_dirent { long d_ino; off_t d_off; unsigned short d_reclen; char d_name[]; };

#define BUF_SIZE 1024

int main(int argc, char *argv[]) { int fd, nread; char buf[BUF_SIZE]; struct linux_dirent *d; int bpos; char d_type;

fd = open(argc > 1 ? argv[1] : ".", O_RDONLY | O_DIRECTORY); if (fd == -1) handle_error("open");

for ( ; ; ) { nread = syscall(SYS_getdents, fd, buf, BUF_SIZE); if (nread == -1) handle_error("getdents");

if (nread == 0) break;

printf("--------------- nread=%d ---------------\n", nread); printf("i-node# file type d_reclen d_off d_name\n"); for (bpos = 0; bpos < nread;) { d = (struct linux_dirent *) (buf + bpos); printf("%8ld ", d->d_ino); d_type = *(buf + bpos + d->d_reclen - 1); printf("%-10s ", (d_type == DT_REG) ? "regular" : (d_type == DT_DIR) ? "directory" : (d_type == DT_FIFO) ? "FIFO" : (d_type == DT_SOCK) ? "socket" : (d_type == DT_LNK) ? "symlink" : (d_type == DT_BLK) ? "block dev" : (d_type == DT_CHR) ? "char dev" : "???"); printf("%4d %10lld %s\n", d->d_reclen, (long long) d->d_off, (char *) d->d_name); bpos += d->d_reclen; } }



readdir(2), readdir(3)


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