rename(2) — Linux manual page


rename(2)                  System Calls Manual                 rename(2)

NAME         top

       rename, renameat, renameat2 - change the name or location of a

LIBRARY         top

       Standard C library (libc, -lc)

SYNOPSIS         top

       #include <stdio.h>

       int rename(const char *oldpath, const char *newpath);

       #include <fcntl.h>           /* Definition of AT_* constants */
       #include <stdio.h>

       int renameat(int olddirfd, const char *oldpath,
                    int newdirfd, const char *newpath);
       int renameat2(int olddirfd, const char *oldpath,
                    int newdirfd, const char *newpath, unsigned int flags);

   Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see

           Since glibc 2.10:
               _POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200809L
           Before glibc 2.10:


DESCRIPTION         top

       rename() renames a file, moving it between directories if
       required.  Any other hard links to the file (as created using
       link(2)) are unaffected.  Open file descriptors for oldpath are
       also unaffected.

       Various restrictions determine whether or not the rename
       operation succeeds: see ERRORS below.

       If newpath already exists, it will be atomically replaced, so
       that there is no point at which another process attempting to
       access newpath will find it missing.  However, there will
       probably be a window in which both oldpath and newpath refer to
       the file being renamed.

       If oldpath and newpath are existing hard links referring to the
       same file, then rename() does nothing, and returns a success

       If newpath exists but the operation fails for some reason,
       rename() guarantees to leave an instance of newpath in place.

       oldpath can specify a directory.  In this case, newpath must
       either not exist, or it must specify an empty directory.

       If oldpath refers to a symbolic link, the link is renamed; if
       newpath refers to a symbolic link, the link will be overwritten.

       The renameat() system call operates in exactly the same way as
       rename(), except for the differences described here.

       If the pathname given in oldpath is relative, then it is
       interpreted relative to the directory referred to by the file
       descriptor olddirfd (rather than relative to the current working
       directory of the calling process, as is done by rename() for a
       relative pathname).

       If oldpath is relative and olddirfd is the special value
       AT_FDCWD, then oldpath is interpreted relative to the current
       working directory of the calling process (like rename()).

       If oldpath is absolute, then olddirfd is ignored.

       The interpretation of newpath is as for oldpath, except that a
       relative pathname is interpreted relative to the directory
       referred to by the file descriptor newdirfd.

       See openat(2) for an explanation of the need for renameat().

       renameat2() has an additional flags argument.  A renameat2() call
       with a zero flags argument is equivalent to renameat().

       The flags argument is a bit mask consisting of zero or more of
       the following flags:

              Atomically exchange oldpath and newpath.  Both pathnames
              must exist but may be of different types (e.g., one could
              be a non-empty directory and the other a symbolic link).

              Don't overwrite newpath of the rename.  Return an error if
              newpath already exists.

              RENAME_NOREPLACE can't be employed together with

              RENAME_NOREPLACE requires support from the underlying
              filesystem.  Support for various filesystems was added as

              •  ext4 (Linux 3.15);

              •  btrfs, tmpfs, and cifs (Linux 3.17);

              •  xfs (Linux 4.0);

              •  Support for many other filesystems was added in Linux
                 4.9, including ext2, minix, reiserfs, jfs, vfat, and

       RENAME_WHITEOUT (since Linux 3.18)
              This operation makes sense only for overlay/union
              filesystem implementations.

              Specifying RENAME_WHITEOUT creates a "whiteout" object at
              the source of the rename at the same time as performing
              the rename.  The whole operation is atomic, so that if the
              rename succeeds then the whiteout will also have been

              A "whiteout" is an object that has special meaning in
              union/overlay filesystem constructs.  In these constructs,
              multiple layers exist and only the top one is ever
              modified.  A whiteout on an upper layer will effectively
              hide a matching file in the lower layer, making it appear
              as if the file didn't exist.

              When a file that exists on the lower layer is renamed, the
              file is first copied up (if not already on the upper
              layer) and then renamed on the upper, read-write layer.
              At the same time, the source file needs to be "whiteouted"
              (so that the version of the source file in the lower layer
              is rendered invisible).  The whole operation needs to be
              done atomically.

              When not part of a union/overlay, the whiteout appears as
              a character device with a {0,0} device number.  (Note that
              other union/overlay implementations may employ different
              methods for storing whiteout entries; specifically, BSD
              union mount employs a separate inode type, DT_WHT, which,
              while supported by some filesystems available in Linux,
              such as CODA and XFS, is ignored by the kernel's whiteout
              support code, as of Linux 4.19, at least.)

              RENAME_WHITEOUT requires the same privileges as creating a
              device node (i.e., the CAP_MKNOD capability).

              RENAME_WHITEOUT can't be employed together with

              RENAME_WHITEOUT requires support from the underlying
              filesystem.  Among the filesystems that support it are
              tmpfs (since Linux 3.18), ext4 (since Linux 3.18), XFS
              (since Linux 4.1), f2fs (since Linux 4.2), btrfs (since
              Linux 4.7), and ubifs (since Linux 4.9).

RETURN VALUE         top

       On success, zero is returned.  On error, -1 is returned, and
       errno is set to indicate the error.

ERRORS         top

       EACCES Write permission is denied for the directory containing
              oldpath or newpath, or, search permission is denied for
              one of the directories in the path prefix of oldpath or
              newpath, or oldpath is a directory and does not allow
              write permission (needed to update the ..  entry).  (See
              also path_resolution(7).)

       EBUSY  The rename fails because oldpath or newpath is a directory
              that is in use by some process (perhaps as current working
              directory, or as root directory, or because it was open
              for reading) or is in use by the system (for example as a
              mount point), while the system considers this an error.
              (Note that there is no requirement to return EBUSY in such
              cases—there is nothing wrong with doing the rename anyway—
              but it is allowed to return EBUSY if the system cannot
              otherwise handle such situations.)

       EDQUOT The user's quota of disk blocks on the filesystem has been

       EFAULT oldpath or newpath points outside your accessible address

       EINVAL The new pathname contained a path prefix of the old, or,
              more generally, an attempt was made to make a directory a
              subdirectory of itself.

       EISDIR newpath is an existing directory, but oldpath is not a

       ELOOP  Too many symbolic links were encountered in resolving
              oldpath or newpath.

       EMLINK oldpath already has the maximum number of links to it, or
              it was a directory and the directory containing newpath
              has the maximum number of links.

              oldpath or newpath was too long.

       ENOENT The link named by oldpath does not exist; or, a directory
              component in newpath does not exist; or, oldpath or
              newpath is an empty string.

       ENOMEM Insufficient kernel memory was available.

       ENOSPC The device containing the file has no room for the new
              directory entry.

              A component used as a directory in oldpath or newpath is
              not, in fact, a directory.  Or, oldpath is a directory,
              and newpath exists but is not a directory.

              newpath is a nonempty directory, that is, contains entries
              other than "." and "..".

       EPERM or EACCES
              The directory containing oldpath has the sticky bit
              (S_ISVTX) set and the process's effective user ID is
              neither the user ID of the file to be deleted nor that of
              the directory containing it, and the process is not
              privileged (Linux: does not have the CAP_FOWNER
              capability); or newpath is an existing file and the
              directory containing it has the sticky bit set and the
              process's effective user ID is neither the user ID of the
              file to be replaced nor that of the directory containing
              it, and the process is not privileged (Linux: does not
              have the CAP_FOWNER capability); or the filesystem
              containing oldpath does not support renaming of the type

       EROFS  The file is on a read-only filesystem.

       EXDEV  oldpath and newpath are not on the same mounted
              filesystem.  (Linux permits a filesystem to be mounted at
              multiple points, but rename() does not work across
              different mount points, even if the same filesystem is
              mounted on both.)

       The following additional errors can occur for renameat() and

       EBADF  oldpath (newpath) is relative but olddirfd (newdirfd) is
              not a valid file descriptor.

              oldpath is relative and olddirfd is a file descriptor
              referring to a file other than a directory; or similar for
              newpath and newdirfd

       The following additional errors can occur for renameat2():

       EEXIST flags contains RENAME_NOREPLACE and newpath already

       EINVAL An invalid flag was specified in flags.

              in flags.

       EINVAL Both RENAME_WHITEOUT and RENAME_EXCHANGE were specified in

       EINVAL The filesystem does not support one of the flags in flags.

       ENOENT flags contains RENAME_EXCHANGE and newpath does not exist.

       EPERM  RENAME_WHITEOUT was specified in flags, but the caller
              does not have the CAP_MKNOD capability.

STANDARDS         top

              C11, POSIX.1-2008.



HISTORY         top

              4.3BSD, C89, POSIX.1-2001.

              Linux 2.6.16, glibc 2.4.

              Linux 3.15, glibc 2.28.

   glibc notes
       On older kernels where renameat() is unavailable, the glibc
       wrapper function falls back to the use of rename().  When oldpath
       and newpath are relative pathnames, glibc constructs pathnames
       based on the symbolic links in /proc/self/fd that correspond to
       the olddirfd and newdirfd arguments.

BUGS         top

       On NFS filesystems, you can not assume that if the operation
       failed, the file was not renamed.  If the server does the rename
       operation and then crashes, the retransmitted RPC which will be
       processed when the server is up again causes a failure.  The
       application is expected to deal with this.  See link(2) for a
       similar problem.

SEE ALSO         top

       mv(1), rename(1), chmod(2), link(2), symlink(2), unlink(2),
       path_resolution(7), symlink(7)

Linux man-pages (unreleased)     (date)                        rename(2)

Pages that refer to this page: exch(1)mv(1)fcntl(2)io_uring_enter2(2)io_uring_enter(2)link(2)open(2)rmdir(2)symlink(2)syscalls(2)unlink(2)io_uring_prep_rename(3)io_uring_prep_renameat(3)remove(3)cpuset(7)inotify(7)signal-safety(7)symlink(7)lsof(8)mount(8)