What's the best way to check if two directories belong to the same filesystem?

Acceptable answers: bash, python, C/C++.


4 Answers 4


It can be done by comparing device numbers.

In a shell script on Linux it can be done with stat:

stat -c "%d" /path  # returns the decimal device number 

In python:



  • The bash line, at least, does not work for SLES 15 and Linux kernel 4.12.14. I get the same "%d" value for directories on two devices.
    – einpoklum
    Mar 22, 2022 at 15:43

The standard command df shows on what filesystem the specified file(s) is located.

if df -P -- "$1" "$2" | awk 'NR==2 {dev1=$1} NR==3 {exit($1!=dev1)}'; then
  echo "$1 and $2 are on the same filesystem"
  echo "$1 and $2 are on different filesystems"

I just came across the same question in a Qt / C++ based project, and found this simple and portable solution:

#include <QFileInfo>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
bool SomeClass::isSameFileSystem(QString path1, QString path2)
        // - path1 and path2 are expected to be fully-qualified / absolute file
        //   names
        // - the files may or may not exist, however, the folders they belong
        //   to MUST exist for this to work (otherwise stat() returns ENOENT) 
        struct stat stat1, stat2;
        QFileInfo fi1(path1), fi2(path2),
        stat(fi1.absoluteDir().absolutePath().toUtf8().constData(), &stat1);
        stat(fi2.absoluteDir().absolutePath().toUtf8().constData(), &stat2);
        return stat1.st_dev == stat2.st_dev;
  • Very specific library, heavy and not standard.
    – Sandburg
    Oct 23, 2019 at 7:09

The "stat" answer is tersest, but it gets false positives when two filesystems are on the same device. Here is the best Linux shell method I've found so far (this example is for Bash).

if [ "$(df file1 --output=target | tail -n 1)" == \
     "$(df file2 --output=target | tail -n 1)" ]
    then echo "same"

(requires coreutils 8.21 or newer)

  • This requires Coreutils 8.21 or newer. (commit that added the feature) (release notes that report the feature) Jun 30, 2017 at 14:57
  • How can two file systems be on the same device? I'm wondering whether this is a real-life issue, or rather an obscure corner case. Aug 6, 2020 at 14:47
  • Believe it or not, it’s common, especially on home Linux installations. Regardless of OS, many filesystem devices, including all hard drives, may be “partitioned”, and each partition formatted as a separate filesystem. This has been the case for decades. In fact, in traditional contexts, a filesystem can only live on a partition. But nowadays, there are fancy multi-partition filesystems such as RAID. In any case, filesystems do not directly live on the device layer, for most types of device. Aug 7, 2020 at 12:49

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