uri(7) — Linux manual page


uri(7)              Miscellaneous Information Manual              uri(7)

NAME         top

       uri, url, urn - uniform resource identifier (URI), including a
       URL or URN

SYNOPSIS         top

       URI = [ absoluteURI | relativeURI ] [ "#" fragment ]

       absoluteURI = scheme ":" ( hierarchical_part | opaque_part )

       relativeURI = ( net_path | absolute_path | relative_path )
                     [ "?" query ]

       scheme = "http" | "ftp" | "gopher" | "mailto" | "news" | "telnet"
                | "file" | "ftp" | "man" | "info" | "whatis" | "ldap" |
                "wais" | ...

       hierarchical_part = ( net_path | absolute_path ) [ "?" query ]

       net_path = "//" authority [ absolute_path ]

       absolute_path = "/" path_segments

       relative_path = relative_segment [ absolute_path ]

DESCRIPTION         top

       A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a short string of
       characters identifying an abstract or physical resource (for
       example, a web page).  A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a URI
       that identifies a resource through its primary access mechanism
       (e.g., its network "location"), rather than by name or some other
       attribute of that resource.  A Uniform Resource Name (URN) is a
       URI that must remain globally unique and persistent even when the
       resource ceases to exist or becomes unavailable.

       URIs are the standard way to name hypertext link destinations for
       tools such as web browsers.  The string "http://www.kernel.org"
       is a URL (and thus it is also a URI).  Many people use the term
       URL loosely as a synonym for URI (though technically URLs are a
       subset of URIs).

       URIs can be absolute or relative.  An absolute identifier refers
       to a resource independent of context, while a relative identifier
       refers to a resource by describing the difference from the
       current context.  Within a relative path reference, the complete
       path segments "." and ".." have special meanings: "the current
       hierarchy level" and "the level above this hierarchy level",
       respectively, just like they do in UNIX-like systems.  A path
       segment which contains a colon character can't be used as the
       first segment of a relative URI path (e.g., "this:that"), because
       it would be mistaken for a scheme name; precede such segments
       with ./ (e.g., "./this:that").  Note that descendants of MS-DOS
       (e.g., Microsoft Windows) replace devicename colons with the
       vertical bar ("|") in URIs, so "C:" becomes "C|".

       A fragment identifier, if included, refers to a particular named
       portion (fragment) of a resource; text after a '#' identifies the
       fragment.  A URI beginning with '#' refers to that fragment in
       the current resource.

       There are many different URI schemes, each with specific
       additional rules and meanings, but they are intentionally made to
       be as similar as possible.  For example, many URL schemes permit
       the authority to be the following format, called here an
       ip_server (square brackets show what's optional):

       ip_server = [user [ : password ] @ ] host [ : port]

       This format allows you to optionally insert a username, a user
       plus password, and/or a port number.  The host is the name of the
       host computer, either its name as determined by DNS or an IP
       address (numbers separated by periods).  Thus the URI
       <http://fred:fredpassword@example.com:8080/> logs into a web
       server on host example.com as fred (using fredpassword) using
       port 8080.  Avoid including a password in a URI if possible
       because of the many security risks of having a password written
       down.  If the URL supplies a username but no password, and the
       remote server requests a password, the program interpreting the
       URL should request one from the user.

       Here are some of the most common schemes in use on UNIX-like
       systems that are understood by many tools.  Note that many tools
       using URIs also have internal schemes or specialized schemes; see
       those tools' documentation for information on those schemes.

       http - Web (HTTP) server


       This is a URL accessing a web (HTTP) server.  The default port is
       80.  If the path refers to a directory, the web server will
       choose what to return; usually if there is a file named
       "index.html" or "index.htm" its content is returned, otherwise, a
       list of the files in the current directory (with appropriate
       links) is generated and returned.  An example is

       A query can be given in the archaic "isindex" format, consisting
       of a word or phrase and not including an equal sign (=).  A query
       can also be in the longer "GET" format, which has one or more
       query entries of the form key=value separated by the ampersand
       character (&).  Note that key can be repeated more than once,
       though it's up to the web server and its application programs to
       determine if there's any meaning to that.  There is an
       unfortunate interaction with HTML/XML/SGML and the GET query
       format; when such URIs with more than one key are embedded in
       SGML/XML documents (including HTML), the ampersand (&) has to be
       rewritten as &amp;.  Note that not all queries use this format;
       larger forms may be too long to store as a URI, so they use a
       different interaction mechanism (called POST) which does not
       include the data in the URI.  See the Common Gateway Interface
       specification at ⟨http://www.w3.org/CGI⟩ for more information.

       ftp - File Transfer Protocol (FTP)


       This is a URL accessing a file through the file transfer protocol
       (FTP).  The default port (for control) is 21.  If no username is
       included, the username "anonymous" is supplied, and in that case
       many clients provide as the password the requestor's Internet
       email address.  An example is

       gopher - Gopher server

       gopher://ip_server/gophertype selector
       gopher://ip_server/gophertype selector%09search
       gopher://ip_server/gophertype selector%09search%09gopher+_string

       The default gopher port is 70.  gophertype is a single-character
       field to denote the Gopher type of the resource to which the URL
       refers.  The entire path may also be empty, in which case the
       delimiting "/" is also optional and the gophertype defaults to

       selector is the Gopher selector string.  In the Gopher protocol,
       Gopher selector strings are a sequence of octets which may
       contain any octets except 09 hexadecimal (US-ASCII HT or tab), 0A
       hexadecimal (US-ASCII character LF), and 0D (US-ASCII character

       mailto - Email address


       This is an email address, usually of the form name@hostname.  See
       mailaddr(7) for more information on the correct format of an
       email address.  Note that any % character must be rewritten as
       %25.  An example is <mailto:dwheeler@dwheeler.com>.

       news - Newsgroup or News message


       A newsgroup-name is a period-delimited hierarchical name, such as
       "comp.infosystems.www.misc".  If <newsgroup-name> is "*" (as in
       <news:*>), it is used to refer to "all available news groups".
       An example is <news:comp.lang.ada>.

       A message-id corresponds to the Message-ID of IETF RFC 1036, 
       ⟨http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1036.txt⟩ without the enclosing "<"
       and ">"; it takes the form unique@full_domain_name.  A message
       identifier may be distinguished from a news group name by the
       presence of the "@" character.

       telnet - Telnet login


       The Telnet URL scheme is used to designate interactive text
       services that may be accessed by the Telnet protocol.  The final
       "/" character may be omitted.  The default port is 23.  An
       example is <telnet://melvyl.ucop.edu/>.

       file - Normal file


       This represents a file or directory accessible locally.  As a
       special case, ip_server can be the string "localhost" or the
       empty string; this is interpreted as "the machine from which the
       URL is being interpreted".  If the path is to a directory, the
       viewer should display the directory's contents with links to each
       containee; not all viewers currently do this.  KDE supports
       generated files through the URL <file:/cgi-bin>.  If the given
       file isn't found, browser writers may want to try to expand the
       filename via filename globbing (see glob(7) and glob(3)).

       The second format (e.g., <file:/etc/passwd>) is a correct format
       for referring to a local file.  However, older standards did not
       permit this format, and some programs don't recognize this as a
       URI.  A more portable syntax is to use an empty string as the
       server name, for example, <file:///etc/passwd>; this form does
       the same thing and is easily recognized by pattern matchers and
       older programs as a URI.  Note that if you really mean to say
       "start from the current location", don't specify the scheme at
       all; use a relative address like <../test.txt>, which has the
       side-effect of being scheme-independent.  An example of this
       scheme is <file:///etc/passwd>.

       man - Man page documentation


       This refers to local online manual (man) reference pages.  The
       command name can optionally be followed by a parenthesis and
       section number; see man(7) for more information on the meaning of
       the section numbers.  This URI scheme is unique to UNIX-like
       systems (such as Linux) and is not currently registered by the
       IETF.  An example is <man:ls(1)>.

       info - Info page documentation


       This scheme refers to online info reference pages (generated from
       texinfo files), a documentation format used by programs such as
       the GNU tools.  This URI scheme is unique to UNIX-like systems
       (such as Linux) and is not currently registered by the IETF.  As
       of this writing, GNOME and KDE differ in their URI syntax and do
       not accept the other's syntax.  The first two formats are the
       GNOME format; in nodenames all spaces are written as underscores.
       The second two formats are the KDE format; spaces in nodenames
       must be written as spaces, even though this is forbidden by the
       URI standards.  It's hoped that in the future most tools will
       understand all of these formats and will always accept
       underscores for spaces in nodenames.  In both GNOME and KDE, if
       the form without the nodename is used the nodename is assumed to
       be "Top".  Examples of the GNOME format are <info:gcc> and
       <info:gcc#G++_and_GCC>.  Examples of the KDE format are
       <info:(gcc)> and <info:(gcc)G++ and GCC>.

       whatis - Documentation search


       This scheme searches the database of short (one-line)
       descriptions of commands and returns a list of descriptions
       containing that string.  Only complete word matches are returned.
       See whatis(1).  This URI scheme is unique to UNIX-like systems
       (such as Linux) and is not currently registered by the IETF.

       ghelp - GNOME help documentation


       This loads GNOME help for the given application.  Note that not
       much documentation currently exists in this format.

       ldap - Lightweight Directory Access Protocol


       This scheme supports queries to the Lightweight Directory Access
       Protocol (LDAP), a protocol for querying a set of servers for
       hierarchically organized information (such as people and
       computing resources).  See RFC 2255 
       ⟨http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2255.txt⟩ for more information on the
       LDAP URL scheme.  The components of this URL are:

              the LDAP server to query, written as a hostname optionally
              followed by a colon and the port number.  The default LDAP
              port is TCP port 389.  If empty, the client determines
              which the LDAP server to use.

       dn     the LDAP Distinguished Name, which identifies the base
              object of the LDAP search (see RFC 2253 
              ⟨http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2253.txt⟩ section 3).

              a comma-separated list of attributes to be returned; see
              RFC 2251 section 4.1.5.  If omitted, all attributes should
              be returned.

       scope  specifies the scope of the search, which can be one of
              "base" (for a base object search), "one" (for a one-level
              search), or "sub" (for a subtree search).  If scope is
              omitted, "base" is assumed.

       filter specifies the search filter (subset of entries to return).
              If omitted, all entries should be returned.  See RFC 2254
              ⟨http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2254.txt⟩ section 4.

              a comma-separated list of type=value pairs, where the
              =value portion may be omitted for options not requiring
              it.  An extension prefixed with a '!' is critical (must be
              supported to be valid), otherwise it is noncritical

       LDAP queries are easiest to explain by example.  Here's a query
       that asks ldap.itd.umich.edu for information about the University
       of Michigan in the U.S.:


       To just get its postal address attribute, request:


       To ask a host.com at port 6666 for information about the person
       with common name (cn) "Babs Jensen" at University of Michigan,


       wais - Wide Area Information Servers


       This scheme designates a WAIS database, search, or document (see
       IETF RFC 1625 ⟨http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1625.txt⟩ for more
       information on WAIS).  Hostport is the hostname, optionally
       followed by a colon and port number (the default port number is

       The first form designates a WAIS database for searching.  The
       second form designates a particular search of the WAIS database
       database.  The third form designates a particular document within
       a WAIS database to be retrieved.  wtype is the WAIS designation
       of the type of the object and wpath is the WAIS document-id.

       other schemes

       There are many other URI schemes.  Most tools that accept URIs
       support a set of internal URIs (e.g., Mozilla has the about:
       scheme for internal information, and the GNOME help browser has
       the toc: scheme for various starting locations).  There are many
       schemes that have been defined but are not as widely used at the
       current time (e.g., prospero).  The nntp: scheme is deprecated in
       favor of the news: scheme.  URNs are to be supported by the urn:
       scheme, with a hierarchical name space (e.g., urn:ietf:... would
       identify IETF documents); at this time URNs are not widely
       implemented.  Not all tools support all schemes.

   Character encoding
       URIs use a limited number of characters so that they can be typed
       in and used in a variety of situations.

       The following characters are reserved, that is, they may appear
       in a URI but their use is limited to their reserved purpose
       (conflicting data must be escaped before forming the URI):

                  ; / ? : @ & = + $ ,

       Unreserved characters may be included in a URI.  Unreserved
       characters include uppercase and lowercase Latin letters, decimal
       digits, and the following limited set of punctuation marks and

                  - _ . ! ~ * ' ( )

       All other characters must be escaped.  An escaped octet is
       encoded as a character triplet, consisting of the percent
       character "%" followed by the two hexadecimal digits representing
       the octet code (you can use uppercase or lowercase letters for
       the hexadecimal digits).  For example, a blank space must be
       escaped as "%20", a tab character as "%09", and the "&" as "%26".
       Because the percent "%" character always has the reserved purpose
       of being the escape indicator, it must be escaped as "%25".  It
       is common practice to escape space characters as the plus symbol
       (+) in query text; this practice isn't uniformly defined in the
       relevant RFCs (which recommend %20 instead) but any tool
       accepting URIs with query text should be prepared for them.  A
       URI is always shown in its "escaped" form.

       Unreserved characters can be escaped without changing the
       semantics of the URI, but this should not be done unless the URI
       is being used in a context that does not allow the unescaped
       character to appear.  For example, "%7e" is sometimes used
       instead of "~" in an HTTP URL path, but the two are equivalent
       for an HTTP URL.

       For URIs which must handle characters outside the US ASCII
       character set, the HTML 4.01 specification (section B.2) and IETF
       RFC 3986 (last paragraph of section 2.5) recommend the following

       (1)  translate the character sequences into UTF-8 (IETF
            RFC 3629)—see utf-8(7)—and then

       (2)  use the URI escaping mechanism, that is, use the %HH
            encoding for unsafe octets.

   Writing a URI
       When written, URIs should be placed inside double quotes (e.g.,
       "http://www.kernel.org"), enclosed in angle brackets (e.g.,
       <http://lwn.net>), or placed on a line by themselves.  A warning
       for those who use double-quotes: never move extraneous
       punctuation (such as the period ending a sentence or the comma in
       a list) inside a URI, since this will change the value of the
       URI.  Instead, use angle brackets instead, or switch to a quoting
       system that never includes extraneous characters inside quotation
       marks.  This latter system, called the 'new' or 'logical' quoting
       system by "Hart's Rules" and the "Oxford Dictionary for Writers
       and Editors", is preferred practice in Great Britain and in
       various European languages.  Older documents suggested inserting
       the prefix "URL:" just before the URI, but this form has never
       caught on.

       The URI syntax was designed to be unambiguous.  However, as URIs
       have become commonplace, traditional media (television, radio,
       newspapers, billboards, etc.) have increasingly used abbreviated
       URI references consisting of only the authority and path portions
       of the identified resource (e.g., <www.w3.org/Addressing>).  Such
       references are primarily intended for human interpretation rather
       than machine, with the assumption that context-based heuristics
       are sufficient to complete the URI (e.g., hostnames beginning
       with "www" are likely to have a URI prefix of "http://" and
       hostnames beginning with "ftp" likely to have a prefix of
       "ftp://").  Many client implementations heuristically resolve
       these references.  Such heuristics may change over time,
       particularly when new schemes are introduced.  Since an
       abbreviated URI has the same syntax as a relative URL path,
       abbreviated URI references cannot be used where relative URIs are
       permitted, and can be used only when there is no defined base
       (such as in dialog boxes).  Don't use abbreviated URIs as
       hypertext links inside a document; use the standard format as
       described here.

STANDARDS         top

       (IETF RFC 2396) ⟨http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2396.txt⟩, (HTML 4.0)

NOTES         top

       Any tool accepting URIs (e.g., a web browser) on a Linux system
       should be able to handle (directly or indirectly) all of the
       schemes described here, including the man: and info: schemes.
       Handling them by invoking some other program is fine and in fact

       Technically the fragment isn't part of the URI.

       For information on how to embed URIs (including URLs) in a data
       format, see documentation on that format.  HTML uses the format
       <A HREF="uri"> text </A>.  Texinfo files use the format
       @uref{uri}.  Man and mdoc have the recently added UR macro, or
       just include the URI in the text (viewers should be able to
       detect :// as part of a URI).

       The GNOME and KDE desktop environments currently vary in the URIs
       they accept, in particular in their respective help browsers.  To
       list man pages, GNOME uses <toc:man> while KDE uses
       <man:(index)>, and to list info pages, GNOME uses <toc:info>
       while KDE uses <info:(dir)> (the author of this man page prefers
       the KDE approach here, though a more regular format would be even
       better).  In general, KDE uses <file:/cgi-bin/> as a prefix to a
       set of generated files.  KDE prefers documentation in HTML,
       accessed via the <file:/cgi-bin/helpindex>.  GNOME prefers the
       ghelp scheme to store and find documentation.  Neither browser
       handles file: references to directories at the time of this
       writing, making it difficult to refer to an entire directory with
       a browsable URI.  As noted above, these environments differ in
       how they handle the info: scheme, probably the most important
       variation.  It is expected that GNOME and KDE will converge to
       common URI formats, and a future version of this man page will
       describe the converged result.  Efforts to aid this convergence
       are encouraged.

       A URI does not in itself pose a security threat.  There is no
       general guarantee that a URL, which at one time located a given
       resource, will continue to do so.  Nor is there any guarantee
       that a URL will not locate a different resource at some later
       point in time; such a guarantee can be obtained only from the
       person(s) controlling that namespace and the resource in

       It is sometimes possible to construct a URL such that an attempt
       to perform a seemingly harmless operation, such as the retrieval
       of an entity associated with the resource, will in fact cause a
       possibly damaging remote operation to occur.  The unsafe URL is
       typically constructed by specifying a port number other than that
       reserved for the network protocol in question.  The client
       unwittingly contacts a site that is in fact running a different
       protocol.  The content of the URL contains instructions that,
       when interpreted according to this other protocol, cause an
       unexpected operation.  An example has been the use of a gopher
       URL to cause an unintended or impersonating message to be sent
       via a SMTP server.

       Caution should be used when using any URL that specifies a port
       number other than the default for the protocol, especially when
       it is a number within the reserved space.

       Care should be taken when a URI contains escaped delimiters for a
       given protocol (for example, CR and LF characters for telnet
       protocols) that these are not unescaped before transmission.
       This might violate the protocol, but avoids the potential for
       such characters to be used to simulate an extra operation or
       parameter in that protocol, which might lead to an unexpected and
       possibly harmful remote operation to be performed.

       It is clearly unwise to use a URI that contains a password which
       is intended to be secret.  In particular, the use of a password
       within the "userinfo" component of a URI is strongly recommended
       against except in those rare cases where the "password" parameter
       is intended to be public.

BUGS         top

       Documentation may be placed in a variety of locations, so there
       currently isn't a good URI scheme for general online
       documentation in arbitrary formats.  References of the form
       <file:///usr/doc/ZZZ> don't work because different distributions
       and local installation requirements may place the files in
       different directories (it may be in /usr/doc, or /usr/local/doc,
       or /usr/share, or somewhere else).  Also, the directory ZZZ
       usually changes when a version changes (though filename globbing
       could partially overcome this).  Finally, using the file: scheme
       doesn't easily support people who dynamically load documentation
       from the Internet (instead of loading the files onto a local
       filesystem).  A future URI scheme may be added (e.g., "userdoc:")
       to permit programs to include cross-references to more detailed
       documentation without having to know the exact location of that
       documentation.  Alternatively, a future version of the filesystem
       specification may specify file locations sufficiently so that the
       file: scheme will be able to locate documentation.

       Many programs and file formats don't include a way to incorporate
       or implement links using URIs.

       Many programs can't handle all of these different URI formats;
       there should be a standard mechanism to load an arbitrary URI
       that automatically detects the users' environment (e.g., text or
       graphics, desktop environment, local user preferences, and
       currently executing tools) and invokes the right tool for any

SEE ALSO         top

       lynx(1), man2html(1), mailaddr(7), utf-8(7)

       IETF RFC 2255 ⟨http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2255.txtLinux man-pages (unreleased)     (date)                           uri(7)

Pages that refer to this page: systemd.unit(5)