Linux Commands Examples

A great documentation place for Linux commands


display file or file system status


stat [OPTION]... FILE...

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T=`stat -c %Y $F`
T=`stat -c %y $F`

how to know if noatime or relatime is default mount option in kernel?

This should list all the options a file system was mounted with:

cat /proc/mounts


stat and ls show wrong file size (terabytes wrong)

vCard appears to be a text file format. This is a good thing as text files should not contain nulls - this will help if the OS mistakenly thinks the file is a sparse file containing very long sequences of nulls.

You can use ls -lks bigfile to see if the occupied space differs from the apparent space.

You can use dd to extract chunks of data (e.g. the first 500 bytes only) into a new file. You can then used hexdump to see if there is recoverable text in that chunk.

If you find the file is filled with long sequences of nulls, you can try using a script to read the file and only write the non-null data to a new file. In this way you may be able, at some effort, to construct a valid vCard file of the usual size.

alternatively use strings bigfile to extract text from the huge file

Many of these operations will take a long time on a ig file. You may want to practise on something smaller ...

Here's a vCard file

$ cat gump.vcard
FN:Forrest Gump

$ file gump.vcard
gump.vcard: vCard visiting card

let's make a corrupt sparse version

$ dd of=sparse-file bs=1k seek=5120 count=0
0+0 records in
0+0 records out
0 bytes (0 B) copied, 0 s, Infinity B/s

$ cat gump.vcard sparse-file > sparse-gump.vcard

$ cp --sparse=always sparse-gump.vcard really-sparse-gump.vcard

$ ls -lks *sparse*
   0 -rw-r--r-- 1 rgb rgb 5120 Jul 11 18:09 sparse-file
5136 -rw-r--r-- 1 rgb rgb 5121 Jul 11 18:10 sparse-gump.vcard
   4 -rw-r--r-- 1 rgb rgb 5121 Jul 11 18:18 really-sparse-gump.vcard

Note that the size on disk of the last file is 4 blocks but it contains 5121 blocks of data.

Lets see what is in there

$ hexdump really-sparse-gump.vcard | head -n 3
0000000 4542 4947 3a4e 4356 5241 0a44 4556 5352
0000010 4f49 3a4e 2e32 0a31 3a4e 7547 706d 463b
0000020 726f 6572 7473 460a 3a4e 6f46 7272 7365

$ hexdump really-sparse-gump.vcard | tail
0000230 4120 656d 6972 6163 450a 414d 4c49 503b
0000240 4552 3b46 4e49 4554 4e52 5445 663a 726f
0000250 6572 7473 7567 706d 6540 6178 706d 656c
0000260 632e 6d6f 520a 5645 323a 3030 3038 3234
0000270 5434 3931 3235 3334 0a5a 4e45 3a44 4356
0000280 5241 0a44 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000
0000290 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000
0500280 0000 0000

Note the * line between offsets 290 and 0500280 - that's where all the imaginary nulls live.

$ strings really-sparse-gump.vcard > new-gump.vcard

$ ls -lks new-gump.vcard
4 -rw-r--r-- 1 rgb rgb 1 Jul 11 18:30 new-gump.vcard

$ cat new-gump.vcard
FN:Forrest Gump

We have recovered our normal sized vCard from the huge file. Your Mileage May Vary.


tar --files-from complains "Cannot stat: No such file or directory"

Most likely tar would love to be noticed about the current path. So instead of


the changeset.txt should read


or alternatively contain the full path.


Does stat/lstat on nonexistent file cause a disk seek?

Somehow the OS needs the information, wether the file is there or not. Obviously it has to read in the folder list of all parent folders where you are looking for the file.

But don't worry too much. Once read in, these informations will remain in the caches, so it does not have to search on the disk every time - only if for some reason the cached informations have been dropped (maybe the OS needed this space in memory for more recent data) the OS will have to look on the disk again.


Display file or file system status.
, --dereference

follow links

-f, --file-system

display file system status instead of file status

-c --format=FORMAT

use the specified FORMAT instead of the default; output a newline after each use of FORMAT


like --format, but interpret backslash escapes, and do not output a mandatory trailing newline. If you want a newline, include \n in FORMAT

-t, --terse

print the information in terse form


display this help and exit


output version information and exit

The valid format sequences for files (without --file-system):


access rights in octal


access rights in human readable form


number of blocks allocated (see %B)


the size in bytes of each block reported by %b


SELinux security context string


device number in decimal


device number in hex


raw mode in hex


file type


group ID of owner


group name of owner


number of hard links


inode number


mount point


file name


quoted file name with dereference if symbolic link


optimal I/O transfer size hint


total size, in bytes


major device type in hex


minor device type in hex


user ID of owner


user name of owner


time of file birth, human-readable; - if unknown


time of file birth, seconds since Epoch; 0 if unknown


time of last access, human-readable


time of last access, seconds since Epoch


time of last modification, human-readable


time of last modification, seconds since Epoch


time of last change, human-readable


time of last change, seconds since Epoch

Valid format sequences for file systems:


free blocks available to non-superuser


total data blocks in file system


total file nodes in file system


free file nodes in file system


free blocks in file system


file system ID in hex


maximum length of filenames


file name


block size (for faster transfers)


fundamental block size (for block counts)


file system type in hex


file system type in human readable form

NOTE: your shell may have its own version of stat, which usually supersedes the version described here. Please refer to your shell’s documentation for details about the options it supports.


Copyright © 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

reporting bugs

Report stat bugs to bug-coreutils[:at:]gnu[:dot:]org
GNU coreutils home page: <>
General help using GNU software: <>
Report stat translation bugs to <>

see also


The full documentation for stat is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and stat programs are properly installed at your site, the command

info coreutils 'stat invocation'

should give you access to the complete manual.


Written by Michael Meskes.

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