getdirentries(2) get directory entries in a file system independent format

Other Alias



Lb libc


In sys/types.h In dirent.h Ft int Fn getdirentries int fd char *buf int nbytes long *basep Ft int Fn getdents int fd char *buf int nbytes


The Fn getdirentries and Fn getdents system calls read directory entries from the directory referenced by the file descriptor Fa fd into the buffer pointed to by Fa buf , in a file system independent format. Up to Fa nbytes of data will be transferred. The Fa nbytes argument must be greater than or equal to the block size associated with the file, see stat(2). Some file systems may not support these system calls with buffers smaller than this size.

The data in the buffer is a series of Vt dirent structures each containing the following entries:

uint32_t d_fileno;
uint16_t d_reclen;
uint8_t  d_type;
uint8_t  d_namlen;
char    d_name[MAXNAMELEN + 1]; /* see below */

The Fa d_fileno entry is a number which is unique for each distinct file in the file system. Files that are linked by hard links (see link(2)) have the same Fa d_fileno . The Fa d_reclen entry is the length, in bytes, of the directory record. The Fa d_type entry is the type of the file pointed to by the directory record. The file type values are defined in Fa <sys/dirent.h> . The Fa d_name entry contains a null terminated file name. The Fa d_namlen entry specifies the length of the file name excluding the null byte. Thus the actual size of Fa d_name may vary from 1 to MAXNAMELEN + 1.

Entries may be separated by extra space. The Fa d_reclen entry may be used as an offset from the start of a Fa dirent structure to the next structure, if any.

The actual number of bytes transferred is returned. The current position pointer associated with Fa fd is set to point to the next block of entries. The pointer may not advance by the number of bytes returned by Fn getdirentries or Fn getdents . A value of zero is returned when the end of the directory has been reached.

The Fn getdirentries system call writes the position of the block read into the location pointed to by Fa basep . Alternatively, the current position pointer may be set and retrieved by lseek(2). The current position pointer should only be set to a value returned by lseek(2), a value returned in the location pointed to by Fa basep Fn ( getdirentries only) or zero.


If successful, the number of bytes actually transferred is returned. Otherwise, -1 is returned and the global variable errno is set to indicate the error.


The Fn getdirentries system call will fail if:

The Fa fd argument is not a valid file descriptor open for reading.
Either Fa buf or Fa basep point outside the allocated address space.
The file referenced by Fa fd is not a directory, or Fa nbytes is too small for returning a directory entry or block of entries, or the current position pointer is invalid.
An I/O error occurred while reading from or writing to the file system.


The Fn getdirentries system call first appeared in BSD 4.4 The Fn getdents system call first appeared in Fx 3.0 .