Is there a site someplace that lists the contents of /proc and what each entry means?

3 Answers 3


The documentation for Linux's implementation of /proc is in Documentation/filesystems/proc.txt in the kernel documentation.

Beware that /proc is one of the areas where *ixes differ most. It started out as a System V specific feature, was then greatly extended by Linux, and is now in the process of being deprecated by things like /sys. The BSDs — including OS X — haven't adopted it at all. Therefore, if you write a program or script that accesses things in /proc, there is a good chance it won't work on other *ixes.


Yes, there is a man page in section 5 "File formats and conventions":

man 5 proc

It is surprisingly long, though - it describes 189 kinds of files in /proc.


Basically /proc has the files that are stored on RAM when the system boots and remains there as long as the system is up. Getting to know what's in this file is like reading RAM. That's why you can't change the contents or values of these files using vim or some any other editor. They need to be forced with some boolean values.

Here I've got some good documentation with the whole list and descriptions of each item.

  • 6
    The files are not exactly stored in RAM: they're (for the most part) generated by the kernel on the fly when you read them. For the writable files, when you write to them, it doesn't store something in RAM, rather it changes a kernel setting. Jan 8, 2011 at 18:28
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    In fact, most of the proc files aren't real files at all! They're virtual files which behave as explained by Gilles above. When you read them, kernel returns some value from its data structures and when you write to them, kernel updates some of its data structure entry Nov 21, 2012 at 6:59

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