On my CentOS 7.6, I have created a folder (called many_files) with 3,000,000 files, by running:

for i in {1..3000000}; do echo $i>$i; done;

I am using the command find to write the information about files in this directory into a file. This works surprisingly fast:

$ time find many_files -printf '%i %y %p\n'>info_file

real    0m6.970s
user    0m3.812s
sys     0m0.904s

Now if I add %M to get the permissions:

$ time find many_files -printf '%i %y %M %p\n'>info_file

real    2m30.677s
user    0m5.148s
sys     0m37.338s

The command takes much longer. This is very surprising to me, since in a C program we can use struct stat to get inode and permission information of a file and in the kernel the struct inode saves both these information.

My Questions:

  1. What causes this behavior?
  2. Is there a faster way to get file permissions for so many files?
  • The second question is the wrong question to ask. The real question is what you are doing with the output. If you are piping it somewhere for later processing of files based on the permissions, then you are probably doing it in a roundabout way. Instead you may want to use -perm with find to pick out the files with the permissions you're looking for. – Kusalananda Apr 12 '19 at 20:26
  • @Kusalananda, Why is it wrong to ask that? If you're faced with an unexpected 20x slowdown, then surely you want to know if it can be avoided? find -perm will still need to look at the permissions, even if not output them, so would using it affect the slowdown in any way? – ilkkachu Apr 13 '19 at 12:13
  • @ilkkachu You are correct. I assumed that the slowdown was due to the extra data produced, just like 0xSheepdog initially thought (which seems to not be the case). I would still not want to get the permissions as text like that if the intention is to process the files based on the permissions though. – Kusalananda Apr 13 '19 at 12:19

The first version requires only to readdir(3)/getdents(2) the directory, when run on a filesystem supporting this feature (ext4: filetype feature displayed with tune2fs -l /dev/xxx, xfs: ftype=1 displayed with xfs_info /mount/point ...).

The second version in addition also requires to stat(2) each file, requiring an additional inode lookup, and thus more seeks on the filesystem and device, possibly quite slower if it's a rotating disk and cache wasn't kept. This stat is not required when looking only for name, inode and filetype because the directory entry is enough:

  The linux_dirent structure is declared as follows:

       struct linux_dirent {
           unsigned long  d_ino;     /* Inode number */
           unsigned long  d_off;     /* Offset to next linux_dirent */
           unsigned short d_reclen;  /* Length of this linux_dirent */
           char           d_name[];  /* Filename (null-terminated) */
                             /* length is actually (d_reclen - 2 -
                                offsetof(struct linux_dirent, d_name)) */
           char           pad;       // Zero padding byte
           char           d_type;    // File type (only since Linux
                                     // 2.6.4); offset is (d_reclen - 1)

the same informations are available to readdir(3):

struct dirent {
    ino_t          d_ino;       /* Inode number */
    off_t          d_off;       /* Not an offset; see below */
    unsigned short d_reclen;    /* Length of this record */
    unsigned char  d_type;      /* Type of file; not supported
                                   by all filesystem types */
    char           d_name[256]; /* Null-terminated filename */

Suspected but confirmed by comparing (on a smaller sample...) the two outputs of:

strace -o v1 find many_files -printf '%i %y %p\n'>info_file
strace -o v2 find many_files -printf '%i %y %M %p\n'>info_file

Which on my Linux amd64 kernel 5.0.x just shows as main difference:


 getdents(4, /* 0 entries */, 32768)     = 0
 close(4)                                = 0
 fcntl(5, F_DUPFD_CLOEXEC, 0)            = 4
-write(1, "25499894 d many_files\n25502410 f"..., 4096) = 4096
-write(1, "iles/844\n25502253 f many_files/8"..., 4096) = 4096
-write(1, "096 f many_files/686\n25502095 f "..., 4096) = 4096
-write(1, "es/529\n25501938 f many_files/528"..., 4096) = 4096
-write(1, "1 f many_files/371\n25501780 f ma"..., 4096) = 4096
-write(1, "/214\n25497527 f many_files/213\n2"..., 4096) = 4096
-brk(0x55b29a933000)                     = 0x55b29a933000
+newfstatat(5, "1000", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=5, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "999", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "998", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "997", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "996", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "995", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "994", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "993", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "992", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "991", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+newfstatat(5, "990", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0


+newfstatat(5, "891", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0
+write(1, "25499894 d drwxr-xr-x many_files"..., 4096) = 4096
+newfstatat(5, "890", {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=4, ...}, AT_SYMLINK_NOFOLLOW) = 0


  • Unfortunately, the d_type field of a dir entry is a non-standard feature, only present on Linux and BSD, as mentioned in the readdir(3) manpage. (Though on Linux it is implemented on most filesystems that matter). – mosvy Apr 12 '19 at 21:49
  • @mosvy That's ok, the question is tagged CentOS. But yes I understand that on other *nix, results may differ – A.B Apr 12 '19 at 21:49
  • 1
    I think it's supported on xfs -- when I was making a testcase for a glibc glob(3) that only triggered when the d_type field was absent, I had to use either minixfs or use the GLOB_ALTDIRFUNC. – mosvy Apr 12 '19 at 22:12
  • 1
    Ah yes CentOS7' mkfs.xfs' man tells ftype=1 is the default. – A.B Apr 12 '19 at 22:18
  • 1
    It really is supported on centos 7 + xfs. Just tested it. – mosvy Apr 12 '19 at 22:33

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