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This chapter describes the
ls command and its variants
vdir, which list information about files.
ls program lists information about files (of any type,
including directories). Options and file arguments can be intermixed
arbitrarily, as usual.
For non-option command-line arguments that are directories, by default
ls lists the contents of directories, not recursively, and
omitting files with names beginning with
.. For other non-option
arguments, by default
ls lists just the file name. If no
non-option arguments are specified,
ls lists the contents of the
By default, the output is sorted alphabetically. If standard output is
a terminal, the output is in columns (sorted vertically); otherwise,
they are listed one per line.
ls is such a fundamental program, it has accumulated many
options over the years. They are described in the subsections below;
within each section, options are listed alphabetically (ignoring case).
The division of options into the subsections is not absolute, since some
options affect more than one aspect of
The `-g' option is accepted but ignored, for compatibility
with Unix. Also see section Common options.
These options determine which files
ls lists information for.
By default, any files and the contents of any directories on the command
line are shown.
List all files in directories, including files that start with `.'.
List all files in directories except for `.' and `..'.
Do not list files that end with `~', unless they are given on the
List just the names of directories, as with other types of files, rather
than listing their contents.
Do not list files whose names match the shell pattern (not regular
expression) pattern unless they are given on the command line. As
in the shell, an initial `.' in a file name does not match a
wildcard at the start of pattern.
In a long listing, show file information (e.g., times and permissions)
for the referents of symbolic links rather than for the symbolic links
List the contents of all directories recursively.
These options affect the information that
ls displays. By
default, only file names are shown.
With the long listing (`-l') format, print an additional line after
the main output:
//DIRED// beg1 end1 beg2 end2 ...
The begN and endN are unsigned integers which record the
byte position of the beginning and end of each file name in the output.
This makes it easy for Emacs to find the names, even when they contain
unusual characters such as space or newline, without fancy searching.
If directories are being listed recursively (
-R), output a similar
line after each subdirectory:
//SUBDIRED// beg1 end1 ...
Inhibit display of group information in a long format directory listing.
(This is the default in some non-GNU versions of
ls, so we
provide this option for compatibility.)
Print the inode number (also called the file serial number and index
number) of each file to the left of the file name. (This number
uniquely identifies each file within a particular filesystem.)
In addition to the name of each file, print the file type, permissions,
number of hard links, owner name, group name, size in bytes, and
timestamp (by default, the modification time). For files with a time
more than six months old or more than one hour into the future, the
timestamp contains the year instead of the time of day.
For each directory that is listed, preface the files with a line
`total blocks', where blocks is the total disk space
used by all files in that directory. By default, 1024-byte blocks are
used; if the environment variable
POSIXLY_CORRECT is set,
512-byte blocks are used (unless the `-k' option is given).
The blocks computed counts each hard link separately;
this is arguably a deficiency.
The permissions listed are similar to symbolic mode specifications
(see section Symbolic Modes). But
ls combines multiple bits into the
third character of each set of permissions as follows:
If the setuid or setgid bit and the corresponding executable bit
are both set.
If the setuid or setgid bit is set but the corresponding executable bit
is not set.
If the sticky bit and the other-executable bit are both set.
If the sticky bit is set but the other-executable bit is not set.
If the executable bit is set and none of the above apply.
Produce long format directory listings, but don't display group information.
It is equivalent to using `--format=long' with `--no-group' .
This option is provided for compatibility with other versions of
Print the size of each file in 1024-byte blocks to the left of the
file name. If the environment variable
POSIXLY_CORRECT is set,
512-byte blocks are used instead, unless the `-k' option is given
(see section General output formatting).
For files that are NFS-mounted from an HP-UX system to a BSD system,
this option reports sizes that are half the correct values. On HP-UX
systems, it reports sizes that are twice the correct values for files
that are NFS-mounted from BSD systems. This is due to a flaw in HP-UX;
it also affects the HP-UX
These options change the order in which
ls sorts the information
it outputs. By default, sorting is done by character code (e.g., ASCII
Sort according to the status change time (the `ctime' in the
inode). If the long listing format (`-l') is being used, print the
status change time instead of the modification time.
Primarily, like `-U'---do not sort; list the files in whatever
order they are stored in the directory. But also enable `-a' (list
all files) and disable `-l', `--color', and `-s' (if they
were specified before the `-f').
Reverse whatever the sorting method is--e.g., list files in reverse
alphabetical order, youngest first, smallest first, or whatever.
Sort by file size, largest first.
Sort by modification time (the `mtime' in the inode), newest first.
Sort by access time (the `atime' in the inode). If the long
listing format is being used, print the last access time.
Do not sort; list the files in whatever order they are
stored in the directory. (Do not do any of the other unrelated things
that `-f' does.) This is especially useful when listing very large
directories, since not doing any sorting can be noticeably faster.
Sort directory contents alphabetically by file extension (characters
after the last `.'); files with no extension are sorted first.
These options affect the appearance of the overall output.
List one file per line. This is the default for
ls when standard
output is not a terminal.
List files in columns, sorted vertically. This is the default for
ls if standard output is a terminal. It is always the default
- `--color [=when]'
Specify whether to use color for distinguishing file types. when
may be omitted, or one of:
Specifying `--color' and no when is equivalent to
Do not use color at all. This is the default.
Only use color if standard output is a terminal.
Always use color.
Append a character to each file name indicating the file type. Also,
for regular files that are executable, append `*'. The file type
indicators are `/' for directories, `@' for symbolic links,
`|' for FIFOs, `=' for sockets, and nothing for regular files.
List times in full, rather than using the standard abbreviation
heuristics. The format is the same as
date's default; it's not
possible to change this, but you can extract out the date string with
cut and then pass the result to
date -d. See section `date invocation' in Shell utilities.
This is most useful because the time output includes the seconds. (Unix
filesystems store file timestamps only to the nearest second, so this
option shows all the information there is.) For example, this can help
when you have a Makefile that is not regenerating files properly.
If file sizes are being listed, print them in kilobytes. This
overrides the environment variable
List files horizontally, with as many as will fit on each line,
separated by `, ' (a comma and a space).
List the numeric UID and GID instead of the names.
Append a character to each file name indicating the file type. This is
like `-F', except that executables are not marked.
- `-x format'
List the files in columns, sorted horizontally.
- `-T cols'
Assume that each tabstop is cols columns wide. The default is 8.
ls uses tabs where possible in the output, for efficiency. If
cols is zero, do not use tabs at all.
Assume the screen is cols columns wide. The default is taken
from the terminal settings if possible; otherwise the environment
COLUMNS is used if it is set; otherwise the default
These options change how file names themselves are printed.
Quote nongraphic characters in file names using alphabetic and octal
backslash sequences like those used in C.
Do not quote file names.
Print question marks instead of nongraphic characters in file names.
This is the default.
Enclose file names in double quotes and quote nongraphic characters as
dir (also installed as
d) is equivalent to
that is, files are by default listed in columns, sorted vertically.
ls: List directory contents.
vdir (also installed as
v)is equivalent to
that is, files are by default listed in long format.
dircolors outputs a sequence of shell commands to set up the
terminal for color output from
eval `dircolors [option]... [file]`
If file is specified,
dircolors reads it to determine which
colors to use for which file types and extensions. Otherwise, a
precompiled database is used. For details on the format of these files,
run `dircolors --print-database'.
The output is a shell command to set the
variable. You can specify the shell syntax to use on the command line,
dircolors will guess it from the value of the
The program accepts the following options. Also see section Common options.
Output Bourne shell commands. This is the default if the
environment variable is set and does not end with `csh' or
Output C shell commands. This is the default if
SHELL ends with
Print the (compiled-in) default color configuration database. This
output is itself a valid configuration file, and is fairly descriptive
of the possibilities.
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