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


       #define _GNU_SOURCE
       #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

       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

       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(3)
          for an explanation of why "directory file descriptors" are useful.)

       *  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

       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

       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


       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

       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

              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 handle.

       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.


       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 open_by_handle_at().

       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 open_by_handle_at().


       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
" cecilia.txt     # Display inode number
           $ rm cecilia.txt
           $ echo 'Can you please think about it?' > cecilia.txt
           $ stat --printf="%i
" 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
", 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()

           /* 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 */

", 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()

               if (mi_mount_id == mount_id)
                   found = 1;


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

           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]
", 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

           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
", 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 3.65 of the Linux  man-pages  project.   A
       description  of  the project, and information about reporting bugs, can
       be found at

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