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       name_to_handle_at,  open_by_handle_at  -  obtain handle for a pathname and open file via a


       #define _GNU_SOURCE         /* See feature_test_macros(7) */
       #include <sys/types.h>
       #include <sys/stat.h>
       #include <fcntl.h>

       int name_to_handle_at(int dirfd, const char *pathname,
                             struct file_handle *handle,
                             int *mount_id, int flags);

       int open_by_handle_at(int mount_fd, struct file_handle *handle,
                             int flags);


       The name_to_handle_at() and open_by_handle_at() system calls split  the  functionality  of
       openat(2) into two parts: name_to_handle_at() returns an opaque handle that corresponds to
       a specified file; open_by_handle_at() opens the file corresponding to a handle returned by
       a previous call to name_to_handle_at() and returns an open file descriptor.

       The  name_to_handle_at() system call returns a file handle and a mount ID corresponding to
       the file specified by the dirfd and pathname arguments.  The file handle is  returned  via
       the argument handle, which is a pointer to a structure of the following form:

           struct file_handle {
               unsigned int  handle_bytes;   /* Size of f_handle [in, out] */
               int           handle_type;    /* Handle type [out] */
               unsigned char f_handle[0];    /* File identifier (sized by
                                                caller) [out] */

       It  is  the  caller's responsibility to allocate the structure with a size large enough to
       hold the handle returned in f_handle.  Before the call, the handle_bytes field  should  be
       initialized  to  contain  the  allocated  size for f_handle.  (The constant MAX_HANDLE_SZ,
       defined in <fcntl.h>, specifies the maximum  possible  size  for  a  file  handle.)   Upon
       successful  return,  the  handle_bytes  field  is  updated  to contain the number of bytes
       actually written to f_handle.

       The caller can discover the required size for the file_handle structure by making  a  call
       in  which  handle->handle_bytes  is  zero;  in  this  case,  the call fails with the error
       EOVERFLOW and handle->handle_bytes is set to indicate the required size;  the  caller  can
       then use this information to allocate a structure of the correct size (see EXAMPLE below).

       Other  than  the  use  of  the handle_bytes field, the caller should treat the file_handle
       structure as an opaque data type: the handle_type and f_handle fields are needed only by a
       subsequent call to open_by_handle_at().

       The  flags  argument  is  a  bit  mask  constructed  by  ORing  together  zero  or more of
       AT_EMPTY_PATH and AT_SYMLINK_FOLLOW, described below.

       Together, the pathname and dirfd arguments identify the file for which a handle is  to  be
       obtained.  There are four distinct cases:

       *  If  pathname  is  a  nonempty  string containing an absolute pathname, then a handle is
          returned for the file referred to by that pathname.  In this case, dirfd is ignored.

       *  If pathname is a nonempty string containing a  relative  pathname  and  dirfd  has  the
          special  value  AT_FDCWD,  then pathname is interpreted relative to the current working
          directory of the caller, and a handle is returned for the file to which it refers.

       *  If pathname is a nonempty string containing a relative pathname and  dirfd  is  a  file
          descriptor  referring  to  a  directory,  then  pathname is interpreted relative to the
          directory referred to by dirfd, and a handle is returned  for  the  file  to  which  it
          refers.   (See  openat(2)  for  an  explanation of why "directory file descriptors" are

       *  If pathname is an empty string and flags specifies the value AT_EMPTY_PATH, then  dirfd
          can  be an open file descriptor referring to any type of file, or AT_FDCWD, meaning the
          current working directory, and a handle is returned for the file to which it refers.

       The mount_id argument returns an identifier for the filesystem mount that  corresponds  to
       pathname.    This   corresponds   to   the   first   field   in  one  of  the  records  in
       /proc/self/mountinfo.  Opening the pathname in the fifth field of  that  record  yields  a
       file descriptor for the mount point; that file descriptor can be used in a subsequent call
       to open_by_handle_at().

       By default, name_to_handle_at() does not dereference pathname if it is  a  symbolic  link,
       and  thus  returns  a  handle  for  the link itself.  If AT_SYMLINK_FOLLOW is specified in
       flags, pathname is dereferenced if it is a symbolic link  (so  that  the  call  returns  a
       handle for the file referred to by the link).

       The  open_by_handle_at()  system  call opens the file referred to by handle, a file handle
       returned by a previous call to name_to_handle_at().

       The mount_fd argument is a file descriptor for any object (file, directory, etc.)  in  the
       mounted  filesystem with respect to which handle should be interpreted.  The special value
       AT_FDCWD can be specified, meaning the current working directory of the caller.

       The flags argument is as for open(2).  If handle refers to a  symbolic  link,  the  caller
       must  specify  the  O_PATH flag, and the symbolic link is not dereferenced; the O_NOFOLLOW
       flag, if specified, is ignored.

       The caller must have the CAP_DAC_READ_SEARCH capability to invoke open_by_handle_at().


       On success, name_to_handle_at() returns 0, and open_by_handle_at() returns  a  nonnegative
       file descriptor.

       In  the event of an error, both system calls return -1 and set errno to indicate the cause
       of the error.


       name_to_handle_at() and open_by_handle_at() can fail for the same errors as openat(2).  In
       addition, they can fail with the errors noted below.

       name_to_handle_at() can fail with the following errors:

       EFAULT pathname, mount_id, or handle points outside your accessible address space.

       EINVAL flags includes an invalid bit value.

       EINVAL handle->handle_bytes is greater than MAX_HANDLE_SZ.

       ENOENT pathname is an empty string, but AT_EMPTY_PATH was not specified in flags.

              The  file descriptor supplied in dirfd does not refer to a directory, and it is not
              the case that both flags includes AT_EMPTY_PATH and pathname is an empty string.

              The filesystem does not support decoding of a pathname to a file handle.

              The handle->handle_bytes value passed into the call was too small.  When this error
              occurs,  handle->handle_bytes  is  updated  to  indicate  the required size for the

       open_by_handle_at() can fail with the following errors:

       EBADF  mount_fd is not an open file descriptor.

       EFAULT handle points outside your accessible address space.

       EINVAL handle->handle_bytes is greater than MAX_HANDLE_SZ or is equal to zero.

       ELOOP  handle refers to a symbolic link, but O_PATH was not specified in flags.

       EPERM  The caller does not have the CAP_DAC_READ_SEARCH capability.

       ESTALE The specified handle is not valid.  This error will occur if, for example, the file
              has been deleted.


       These  system  calls first appeared in Linux 2.6.39.  Library support is provided in glibc
       since version 2.14.


       These system calls are nonstandard Linux extensions.

       FreeBSD has a broadly similar pair of system calls in the form of getfh() and openfh().


       A file handle can be generated in one process using name_to_handle_at() and later used  in
       a different process that calls open_by_handle_at().

       Some  filesystem  don't support the translation of pathnames to file handles, for example,
       /proc, /sys, and various network filesystems.

       A file handle may become invalid ("stale") if a file is deleted, or for other  filesystem-
       specific   reasons.    Invalid   handles   are   notified   by   an   ESTALE   error  from

       These system calls are designed for use by user-space file servers.  For example, a  user-
       space  NFS  server might generate a file handle and pass it to an NFS client.  Later, when
       the client wants to open the file, it could pass the handle back to the server.  This sort
       of  functionality  allows  a user-space file server to operate in a stateless fashion with
       respect to the files it serves.

       If pathname refers to a symbolic link and flags does not specify  AT_SYMLINK_FOLLOW,  then
       name_to_handle_at()  returns  a  handle  for  the  link  (rather than the file to which it
       refers).  The process receiving the handle can later perform operations  on  the  symbolic
       link  by  converting  the  handle  to a file descriptor using open_by_handle_at() with the
       O_PATH flag, and then passing the file descriptor as the dirfd argument  in  system  calls
       such as readlinkat(2) and fchownat(2).

   Obtaining a persistent filesystem ID
       The  mount  IDs  in  /proc/self/mountinfo  can  be reused as filesystems are unmounted and
       mounted.  Therefore, the mount ID returned by name_to_handle_at()  (in  *mount_id)  should
       not  be  treated  as  a  persistent  identifier  for the corresponding mounted filesystem.
       However, an application can use the information in the mountinfo record  that  corresponds
       to the mount ID to derive a persistent identifier.

       For  example,  one  can  use the device name in the fifth field of the mountinfo record to
       search for the corresponding device UUID via the symbolic links in /dev/disks/by-uuid.  (A
       more  comfortable  way  of  obtaining  the  UUID is to use the libblkid(3) library.)  That
       process can then be reversed, using the  UUID  to  look  up  the  device  name,  and  then
       obtaining the corresponding mount point, in order to produce the mount_fd argument used by


       The two programs below demonstrate the use of name_to_handle_at() and open_by_handle_at().
       The  first  program  (t_name_to_handle_at.c)  uses  name_to_handle_at() to obtain the file
       handle and mount ID for the file specified in its command-line argument;  the  handle  and
       mount ID are written to standard output.

       The  second program (t_open_by_handle_at.c) reads a mount ID and file handle from standard
       input.  The program then employs open_by_handle_at() to open the file using  that  handle.
       If  an  optional  command-line  argument  is  supplied,  then  the  mount_fd  argument for
       open_by_handle_at()  is  obtained  by  opening  the  directory  named  in  that  argument.
       Otherwise,  mount_fd  is  obtained by scanning /proc/self/mountinfo to find a record whose
       mount ID matches the mount ID read from standard input, and the mount directory  specified
       in  that  record  is opened.  (These programs do not deal with the fact that mount IDs are
       not persistent.)

       The following shell session demonstrates the use of these two programs:

           $ echo 'Can you please think about it?' > cecilia.txt
           $ ./t_name_to_handle_at cecilia.txt > fh
           $ ./t_open_by_handle_at < fh
           open_by_handle_at: Operation not permitted
           $ sudo ./t_open_by_handle_at < fh      # Need CAP_SYS_ADMIN
           Read 31 bytes
           $ rm cecilia.txt

       Now we delete and (quickly) re-create the file so that it has the  same  content  and  (by
       chance)  the  same  inode.  Nevertheless, open_by_handle_at() recognizes that the original
       file referred to by the file handle no longer exists.

           $ stat --printf="%i\n" cecilia.txt     # Display inode number
           $ rm cecilia.txt
           $ echo 'Can you please think about it?' > cecilia.txt
           $ stat --printf="%i\n" cecilia.txt     # Check inode number
           $ sudo ./t_open_by_handle_at < fh
           open_by_handle_at: Stale NFS file handle

   Program source: t_name_to_handle_at.c

       #define _GNU_SOURCE
       #include <sys/types.h>
       #include <sys/stat.h>
       #include <fcntl.h>
       #include <stdio.h>
       #include <stdlib.h>
       #include <unistd.h>
       #include <errno.h>
       #include <string.h>

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

       main(int argc, char *argv[])
           struct file_handle *fhp;
           int mount_id, fhsize, flags, dirfd, j;
           char *pathname;

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

           pathname = argv[1];

           /* Allocate file_handle structure */

           fhsize = sizeof(*fhp);
           fhp = malloc(fhsize);
           if (fhp == NULL)

           /* Make an initial call to name_to_handle_at() to discover
              the size required for file handle */

           dirfd = AT_FDCWD;           /* For name_to_handle_at() calls */
           flags = 0;                  /* For name_to_handle_at() calls */
           fhp->handle_bytes = 0;
           if (name_to_handle_at(dirfd, pathname, fhp,
                       &mount_id, flags) != -1 || errno != EOVERFLOW) {
               fprintf(stderr, "Unexpected result from name_to_handle_at()\n");

           /* Reallocate file_handle structure with correct size */

           fhsize = sizeof(struct file_handle) + fhp->handle_bytes;
           fhp = realloc(fhp, fhsize);         /* Copies fhp->handle_bytes */
           if (fhp == NULL)

           /* Get file handle from pathname supplied on command line */

           if (name_to_handle_at(dirfd, pathname, fhp, &mount_id, flags) == -1)

           /* Write mount ID, file handle size, and file handle to stdout,
              for later reuse by t_open_by_handle_at.c */

           printf("%d\n", mount_id);
           printf("%d %d   ", fhp->handle_bytes, fhp->handle_type);
           for (j = 0; j < fhp->handle_bytes; j++)
               printf(" %02x", fhp->f_handle[j]);


   Program source: t_open_by_handle_at.c

       #define _GNU_SOURCE
       #include <sys/types.h>
       #include <sys/stat.h>
       #include <fcntl.h>
       #include <limits.h>
       #include <stdio.h>
       #include <stdlib.h>
       #include <unistd.h>
       #include <string.h>

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

       /* Scan /proc/self/mountinfo to find the line whose mount ID matches
          'mount_id'. (An easier way to do this is to install and use the
          'libmount' library provided by the 'util-linux' project.)
          Open the corresponding mount path and return the resulting file
          descriptor. */

       static int
       open_mount_path_by_id(int mount_id)
           char *linep;
           size_t lsize;
           char mount_path[PATH_MAX];
           int mi_mount_id, found;
           ssize_t nread;
           FILE *fp;

           fp = fopen("/proc/self/mountinfo", "r");
           if (fp == NULL)

           found = 0;
           linep = NULL;
           while (!found) {
               nread = getline(&linep, &lsize, fp);
               if (nread == -1)

               nread = sscanf(linep, "%d %*d %*s %*s %s",
                              &mi_mount_id, mount_path);
               if (nread != 2) {
                   fprintf(stderr, "Bad sscanf()\n");

               if (mi_mount_id == mount_id)
                   found = 1;


           if (!found) {
               fprintf(stderr, "Could not find mount point\n");

           return open(mount_path, O_RDONLY);

       main(int argc, char *argv[])
           struct file_handle *fhp;
           int mount_id, fd, mount_fd, handle_bytes, j;
           ssize_t nread;
           char buf[1000];
       #define LINE_SIZE 100
           char line1[LINE_SIZE], line2[LINE_SIZE];
           char *nextp;

           if ((argc > 1 && strcmp(argv[1], "--help") == 0) || argc > 2) {
               fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s [mount-path]\n", argv[0]);

           /* Standard input contains mount ID and file handle information:

                Line 1: <mount_id>
                Line 2: <handle_bytes> <handle_type>   <bytes of handle in hex>

           if ((fgets(line1, sizeof(line1), stdin) == NULL) ||
                  (fgets(line2, sizeof(line2), stdin) == NULL)) {
               fprintf(stderr, "Missing mount_id / file handle\n");

           mount_id = atoi(line1);

           handle_bytes = strtoul(line2, &nextp, 0);

           /* Given handle_bytes, we can now allocate file_handle structure */

           fhp = malloc(sizeof(struct file_handle) + handle_bytes);
           if (fhp == NULL)

           fhp->handle_bytes = handle_bytes;

           fhp->handle_type = strtoul(nextp, &nextp, 0);

           for (j = 0; j < fhp->handle_bytes; j++)
               fhp->f_handle[j] = strtoul(nextp, &nextp, 16);

           /* Obtain file descriptor for mount point, either by opening
              the pathname specified on the command line, or by scanning
              /proc/self/mounts to find a mount that matches the 'mount_id'
              that we received from stdin. */

           if (argc > 1)
               mount_fd = open(argv[1], O_RDONLY);
               mount_fd = open_mount_path_by_id(mount_id);

           if (mount_fd == -1)
               errExit("opening mount fd");

           /* Open file using handle and mount point */

           fd = open_by_handle_at(mount_fd, fhp, O_RDONLY);
           if (fd == -1)

           /* Try reading a few bytes from the file */

           nread = read(fd, buf, sizeof(buf));
           if (nread == -1)

           printf("Read %zd bytes\n", nread);



       open(2), libblkid(3), blkid(8), findfs(8), mount(8)

       The  libblkid  and  libmount  documentation  in   the   latest   util-linux   release   at


       This  page  is  part of release 4.04 of the Linux man-pages project.  A description of the
       project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of  this  page,  can  be
       found at