When I try to remount a partition as read-only, I get an error /foo is busy. I can list all files open from /foo with

lsof /foo

but that does not show me whether files are open read-only or read-write. Is there any way to list only files which are open as read-write ?

3 Answers 3


To answer this question specifically, you could do:

lsof /foo | awk 'NR==1 || $4~/[0-9]+u/'

This will show files which are opened read-write under the mount point foo. However, likely you really want to do is list all files which are open for writing. This would include files a which opened write-only as well as those opened read-write. For this you would do:

lsof /foo | awk 'NR==1 || $4~/[0-9]+[uw]/'

These commands should work provided FD is the 4th field in the output and none of the other fields are blank. This is the case for me on Debian when I include a path in the lsof command, however if I don't it prints and extra TID field which is sometimes blank (and will confuse awk). Mileage may vary between distros or lsof versions.

  • Use /[0-9]+[uw -]/ to include "mode unknown".
    – Tom Hale
    Aug 13, 2017 at 5:20

Look at the FD column values in the output of lsof. For example:

sudo lsof +d /foo

The manpages describe the interpretation; 'r' for read; 'w' for write' and 'u' for read and write access.

This can easily be used to list the objects of interest:

sudo lsof +d /foo | awk '/$4~/u/ {print $NF}'   
  • I need a way to list all files open as read-write from /foo. The manual page man lsof does not mention this. Do you have a solution how to do it ? Nov 20, 2013 at 15:37
  • 1
    This command gives me the following error: awk: line 1: syntax error at or near {. Also +d is the incorrect option for lsof. You could either remove this or use +D to walk every file under the mount point, although this will take a while.
    – Graeme
    Feb 18, 2014 at 14:17

I didn't have any luck using lsof to list processes with read-write access to files (maybe I just overlooked the option in my version of lsof), but I ended up finding this Digital Ocean guide which showed how to get that info using fuser.

Here is some test output from an Ubuntu 16.04 box:

$ sudo fuser -v /etc/os-release

                     USER        PID ACCESS COMMAND
/usr/lib/os-release: root        827 f.... snapd

$ sudo fuser -v /proc/kmsg

                     USER        PID ACCESS COMMAND
/proc/kmsg:          syslog      989 f.... rsyslogd

As noted in the guide:

The above output shows that, when ran in verbose mode, the fuse utility gives information about the USER, PID, ACCESS and COMMAND. There are many access types such as e(executable being run), r(root directory), f(open file. f is omitted in default display mode), F(open file for writing, F is omitted in default display mode) and m (mmap’ed file or shared library).

In each of those above examples the files are open for reading. Here is an example of a file that is open for writing:

$ sudo fuser -v /run/systemd/journal/syslog

                     USER        PID ACCESS COMMAND
                     root          1 F.... systemd
                     syslog      989 F.... rsyslogd 

Here you can see that both systemd and rsyslogd have write access to the /run/systemd/journal/syslog "file" (socket in this case).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .