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Are there any (good known, reliable) file systems on Linux that store the creation time of files and directories in the i-node table?

If there are, is the "changed" time replaced by the creation time of an i-node in a stat call?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The ext4 file system does store the creation time. stat -c %W myfile can show it to you.

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Thanks. In my system stat -c %W returns 0 (creation time unknown), but that is another question... – franziskus Feb 17 '11 at 6:30
But note that due to how files are handled by many programs, that creation time value may not be useful. – mattdm Feb 17 '11 at 15:27
@mattdm: What do you mean? – Legate Feb 20 '11 at 11:51
@Legate: if a text editor works by copying the file to a temporary location, editing the temporary working copy, and then moving the temporary copy over the original on save, when is the creation time? – mattdm Feb 20 '11 at 14:02

Several file systems store the file creation time, although there is no standard name for this field:

  • ufs2 → st_birthtime
  • zfs → crtime
  • ext4 → crtime
  • btrfs → otime
  • jfs → di_otime
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To be explicit, as of 2015-03, XFS don't support (see xfs_db manpage or in XFS File System Structure – Franklin Piat Mar 28 '15 at 13:54

As far as I know ext4, JFS and BTRFS file systems all support an extra field in the files inode to store the creation time, though the naming might differ.

Source: LWN File Creation Times

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// , Have you been able to verify this? AFAIK is sort of weak, for my taste, at least. – Nathan Basanese Aug 21 '15 at 19:24
@NathanBasanese The AFAIK was reporting to JFS and BTRFS. For ext4, yes it supports it. Check debugfs command stat. Exemple: you need to thing the device where you ext4 filesystem is mounted (e.g. /dev/sda3) and you need to get a file inode number within that file system (use ls -i, let say 42000 is the number), then you simply type: debugfs -R 'stat <42000>' /dev/sda3. Run this as root, or with enough privilege. Look for the crtime field, that's the one. For JFS and BTRFS, you would need to find the equivalent debugfs command... – Huygens Aug 21 '15 at 22:15
// , NIIICE. I tried $ ls -i | grep dump.rdb 656376 dump.rdb and $ sudo debugfs -R 'stat <656376>' /dev/sda2, but I think I don't have ext4 on there, yet. If I try it on an ext4, I'll say so. – Nathan Basanese Aug 21 '15 at 23:10
@NathanBasanese You can do df -T to get the partition type or simply type mount. Make sure that the file inode belong to the correct partition. Inodes are (per their nature) specific to a partition. – Huygens Aug 22 '15 at 20:27

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