FANOTIFY(7)                         Linux Programmer's Manual                         FANOTIFY(7)

       fanotify - monitoring filesystem events

       The  fanotify  API provides notification and interception of filesystem events.  Use cases
       include virus scanning and hierarchical storage management.  Currently, only a limited set
       of  events  is supported.  In particular, there is no support for create, delete, and move
       events.  (See inotify(7) for details of an API that does notify those events.)

       Additional capabilities compared to the inotify(7) API include the ability to monitor  all
       of  the  objects in a mounted filesystem, the ability to make access permission decisions,
       and the possibility to read or modify files before access by other applications.

       The following system calls are used with  this  API:  fanotify_init(2),  fanotify_mark(2),
       read(2), write(2), and close(2).

   fanotify_init(), fanotify_mark(), and notification groups
       The  fanotify_init(2)  system  call creates and initializes an fanotify notification group
       and returns a file descriptor referring to it.

       An fanotify notification group is a kernel-internal object that holds  a  list  of  files,
       directories, and mount points for which events shall be created.

       For  each  entry in an fanotify notification group, two bit masks exist: the mark mask and
       the ignore mask.  The mark mask defines file activities for which an event shall  be  cre‐
       ated.   The  ignore mask defines activities for which no event shall be generated.  Having
       these two types of masks permits a mount point or directory to  be  marked  for  receiving
       events, while at the same time ignoring events for specific objects under that mount point
       or directory.

       The fanotify_mark(2) system call adds a file, directory, or mount to a notification  group
       and  specifies which events shall be reported (or ignored), or removes or modifies such an

       A possible usage of the ignore mask is for a file cache.  Events of interest  for  a  file
       cache  are modification of a file and closing of the same.  Hence, the cached directory or
       mount point is to be marked to receive these events.   After  receiving  the  first  event
       informing  that  a  file  has been modified, the corresponding cache entry will be invali‐
       dated.  No further modification events for this file are of interest  until  the  file  is
       closed.   Hence,  the  modify  event  can be added to the ignore mask.  Upon receiving the
       close event, the modify event can be removed from the ignore mask and the file cache entry
       can be updated.

       The  entries  in the fanotify notification groups refer to files and directories via their
       inode number and to mounts via their mount ID.  If files or  directories  are  renamed  or
       moved  within the same mount, the respective entries survive.  If files or directories are
       deleted or moved to another mount or if mounts are unmounted,  the  corresponding  entries
       are deleted.

   The event queue
       As  events occur on the filesystem objects monitored by a notification group, the fanotify
       system generates events that are collected in a queue.  These  events  can  then  be  read
       (using read(2) or similar) from the fanotify file descriptor returned by fanotify_init(2).

       Two  types  of events are generated: notification events and permission events.  Notifica‐
       tion events are merely informative and require no action to  be  taken  by  the  receiving
       application  except for closing the file descriptor passed in the event (see below).  Per‐
       mission events are requests to the receiving application to decide whether permission  for
       a  file  access  shall  be granted.  For these events, the recipient must write a response
       which decides whether access is granted or not.

       An event is removed from the event queue of the fanotify group  when  it  has  been  read.
       Permission  events  that have been read are kept in an internal list of the fanotify group
       until either a permission decision has been taken by writing to the fanotify file descrip‐
       tor or the fanotify file descriptor is closed.

   Reading fanotify events
       Calling  read(2)  for the file descriptor returned by fanotify_init(2) blocks (if the flag
       FAN_NONBLOCK is not specified in the call to fanotify_init(2)) until either a  file  event
       occurs or the call is interrupted by a signal (see signal(7)).

       After  a  successful read(2), the read buffer contains one or more of the following struc‐

           struct fanotify_event_metadata {
               __u32 event_len;
               __u8 vers;
               __u8 reserved;
               __u16 metadata_len;
               __aligned_u64 mask;
               __s32 fd;
               __s32 pid;

       For performance reasons, it is recommended to use a large buffer size (for  example,  4096
       bytes), so that multiple events can be retrieved by a single read(2).

       The  return value of read(2) is the number of bytes placed in the buffer, or -1 in case of
       an error (but see BUGS).

       The fields of the fanotify_event_metadata structure are as follows:

              This is the length of the data for the current event and the  offset  to  the  next
              event  in  the  buffer.   In  the current implementation, the value of event_len is
              always FAN_EVENT_METADATA_LEN.  However, the API is  designed  to  allow  variable-
              length structures to be returned in the future.

       vers   This  field  holds a version number for the structure.  It must be compared to FAN‐
              OTIFY_METADATA_VERSION to verify that the structures returned at runtime match  the
              structures  defined at compile time.  In case of a mismatch, the application should
              abandon trying to use the fanotify file descriptor.

              This field is not used.

              This is the length of the structure.  The field was introduced  to  facilitate  the
              implementation  of optional headers per event type.  No such optional headers exist
              in the current implementation.

       mask   This is a bit mask describing the event (see below).

       fd     This is an open file descriptor for the object being accessed,  or  FAN_NOFD  if  a
              queue overflow occurred.  The file descriptor can be used to access the contents of
              the monitored file or directory.  The reading application is responsible for  clos‐
              ing this file descriptor.

              When  calling fanotify_init(2), the caller may specify (via the event_f_flags argu‐
              ment) various file status flags that are to be set on  the  open  file  description
              that  corresponds  to  this  file  descriptor.   In addition, the (kernel-internal)
              FMODE_NONOTIFY file status flag is set on the open  file  description.   This  flag
              suppresses  fanotify  event  generation.   Hence, when the receiver of the fanotify
              event accesses the notified file or directory using this file descriptor, no  addi‐
              tional events will be created.

       pid    This  is  the ID of the process that caused the event.  A program listening to fan‐
              otify events can compare this PID to the PID returned by  getpid(2),  to  determine
              whether  the  event is caused by the listener itself, or is due to a file access by
              another process.

       The bit mask in mask indicates which events have occurred for a single filesystem  object.
       Multiple  bits  may be set in this mask, if more than one event occurred for the monitored
       filesystem object.  In particular, consecutive events for the same filesystem  object  and
       originating  from  the  same process may be merged into a single event, with the exception
       that two permission events are never merged into one queue entry.

       The bits that may appear in mask are as follows:

              A file or a directory (but see BUGS) was accessed (read).

              A file or a directory was opened.

              A file was modified.

              A file that was opened for writing (O_WRONLY or O_RDWR) was closed.

              A file or directory that was opened read-only (O_RDONLY) was closed.

              The event queue exceeded the limit of 16384 entries.  This limit can be  overridden
              by specifying the FAN_UNLIMITED_QUEUE flag when calling fanotify_init(2).

              An  application  wants  to  read  a file or directory, for example using read(2) or
              readdir(2).  The reader must write a response (as described below) that  determines
              whether the permission to access the filesystem object shall be granted.

              An application wants to open a file or directory.  The reader must write a response
              that determines whether the permission to  open  the  filesystem  object  shall  be

       To check for any close event, the following bit mask may be used:

              A file was closed.  This is a synonym for:


       The following macros are provided to iterate over a buffer containing fanotify event meta‐
       data returned by a read(2) from an fanotify file descriptor:

       FAN_EVENT_OK(meta, len)
              This macro checks the remaining length len of the buffer meta against the length of
              the  metadata  structure and the event_len field of the first metadata structure in
              the buffer.

       FAN_EVENT_NEXT(meta, len)
              This macro uses the length indicated in the event_len field of the metadata  struc‐
              ture  pointed  to  by  meta to calculate the address of the next metadata structure
              that follows meta.  len is the number of bytes of metadata that currently remain in
              the  buffer.   The macro returns a pointer to the next metadata structure that fol‐
              lows meta, and reduces len by the number of bytes in the  metadata  structure  that
              has been skipped over (i.e., it subtracts meta->event_len from len).

       In addition, there is:

              This  macro  returns  the size (in bytes) of the structure fanotify_event_metadata.
              This is the minimum size (and currently the only size) of any event metadata.

   Monitoring an fanotify file descriptor for events
       When an fanotify event occurs, the fanotify file descriptor  indicates  as  readable  when
       passed to epoll(7), poll(2), or select(2).

   Dealing with permission events
       For  permission events, the application must write(2) a structure of the following form to
       the fanotify file descriptor:

           struct fanotify_response {
               __s32 fd;
               __u32 response;

       The fields of this structure are as follows:

       fd     This is the file descriptor from the structure fanotify_event_metadata.

              This field indicates whether or not the permission is to  be  granted.   Its  value
              must  be  either FAN_ALLOW to allow the file operation or FAN_DENY to deny the file

       If access is denied, the requesting application call will receive an EPERM error.

   Closing the fanotify file descriptor
       When all file descriptors referring to the fanotify notification  group  are  closed,  the
       fanotify  group  is  released  and  its resources are freed for reuse by the kernel.  Upon
       close(2), outstanding permission events will be set to allowed.

       The file /proc/[pid]/fdinfo/[fd]  contains  information  about  fanotify  marks  for  file
       descriptor  fd  of  process  pid.   See  the  kernel  source  file  Documentation/filesys‐
       tems/proc.txt for details.

       In addition to the usual errors for read(2), the following errors can occur  when  reading
       from the fanotify file descriptor:

       EINVAL The buffer is too small to hold the event.

       EMFILE The  per-process  limit  on  the  number  of  open files has been reached.  See the
              description of RLIMIT_NOFILE in getrlimit(2).

       ENFILE The system-wide limit on the total number of open  files  has  been  reached.   See
              /proc/sys/fs/file-max in proc(5).

              This  error  is  returned  by  read(2)  if  O_RDWR or O_WRONLY was specified in the
              event_f_flags argument when calling fanotify_init(2) and an event  occurred  for  a
              monitored file that is currently being executed.

       In  addition to the usual errors for write(2), the following errors can occur when writing
       to the fanotify file descriptor:

       EINVAL Fanotify access permissions are not enabled in  the  kernel  configuration  or  the
              value of response in the response structure is not valid.

       ENOENT The file descriptor fd in the response structure is not valid.  This may occur when
              a response for the permission event has already been written.

       The fanotify API was introduced in version 2.6.36 of the Linux kernel and enabled in  ver‐
       sion 2.6.37.  Fdinfo support was added in version 3.8.

       The fanotify API is Linux-specific.

       The  fanotify  API is available only if the kernel was built with the CONFIG_FANOTIFY con‐
       figuration option enabled.  In addition, fanotify permission handling is available only if
       the CONFIG_FANOTIFY_ACCESS_PERMISSIONS configuration option is enabled.

   Limitations and caveats
       Fanotify  reports  only  events  that a user-space program triggers through the filesystem
       API.  As a result, it does not catch remote events that occur on network filesystems.

       The fanotify API does not report file accesses and modifications that may occur because of
       mmap(2), msync(2), and munmap(2).

       Events  for  directories  are  created  only  if the directory itself is opened, read, and
       closed.  Adding, removing, or changing children of a  marked  directory  does  not  create
       events for the monitored directory itself.

       Fanotify  monitoring  of  directories  is not recursive: to monitor subdirectories under a
       directory, additional marks must be created.  (But note that the fanotify API provides  no
       way  of  detecting  when  a  subdirectory has been created under a marked directory, which
       makes recursive monitoring difficult.)  Monitoring mounts offers the capability to monitor
       a whole directory tree.

       The event queue can overflow.  In this case, events are lost.

       Before Linux 3.19, fallocate(2) did not generate fanotify events.  Since Linux 3.19, calls
       to fallocate(2) generate FAN_MODIFY events.

       As of Linux 3.17, the following bugs exist:

       *  On Linux, a filesystem object may be accessible through multiple paths, for example,  a
          part  of a filesystem may be remounted using the --bind option of mount(8).  A listener
          that marked a mount will be notified only of events that were triggered for a  filesys‐
          tem object using the same mount.  Any other event will pass unnoticed.

       *  When  an event is generated, no check is made to see whether the user ID of the receiv‐
          ing process has authorization to read or write the file before passing a file  descrip‐
          tor  for  that  file.  This poses a security risk, when the CAP_SYS_ADMIN capability is
          set for programs executed by unprivileged users.

       *  If a call to read(2) processes multiple events from the fanotify  queue  and  an  error
          occurs,  the return value will be the total length of the events successfully copied to
          the user-space buffer before the error occurred.  The return value will not be -1,  and
          errno will not be set.  Thus, the reading application has no way to detect the error.

       The  following  program  demonstrates  the  usage of the fanotify API.  It marks the mount
       point passed as a command-line argument and waits for events  of  type  FAN_PERM_OPEN  and
       FAN_CLOSE_WRITE.  When a permission event occurs, a FAN_ALLOW response is given.

       The  following  output  was recorded while editing the file /home/user/temp/notes.  Before
       the file was opened, a FAN_OPEN_PERM  event  occurred.   After  the  file  was  closed,  a
       FAN_CLOSE_WRITE  event  occurred.  Execution of the program ends when the user presses the
       ENTER key.

   Example output
           # ./fanotify_example /home
           Press enter key to terminate.
           Listening for events.
           FAN_OPEN_PERM: File /home/user/temp/notes
           FAN_CLOSE_WRITE: File /home/user/temp/notes

           Listening for events stopped.

   Program source
       #define _GNU_SOURCE     /* Needed to get O_LARGEFILE definition */

       /* Read all available fanotify events from the file descriptor 'fd' */

       static void
       handle_events(int fd)
           const struct fanotify_event_metadata *metadata;
           struct fanotify_event_metadata buf[200];
           ssize_t len;
           char path[PATH_MAX];
           ssize_t path_len;
           char procfd_path[PATH_MAX];
           struct fanotify_response response;

           /* Loop while events can be read from fanotify file descriptor */

           for(;;) {

               /* Read some events */

               len = read(fd, (void *) &buf, sizeof(buf));
               if (len == -1 && errno != EAGAIN) {

               /* Check if end of available data reached */

               if (len <= 0)

               /* Point to the first event in the buffer */

               metadata = buf;

               /* Loop over all events in the buffer */

               while (FAN_EVENT_OK(metadata, len)) {

                   /* Check that run-time and compile-time structures match */

                   if (metadata->vers != FANOTIFY_METADATA_VERSION) {
                               "Mismatch of fanotify metadata version.'''\'''n");

                   /* metadata->fd contains either FAN_NOFD, indicating a
                      queue overflow, or a file descriptor (a nonnegative
                      integer). Here, we simply ignore queue overflow. */

                   if (metadata->fd >= 0) {

                       /* Handle open permission event */

                       if (metadata->mask & FAN_OPEN_PERM) {
                           printf("FAN_OPEN_PERM: ");

                           /* Allow file to be opened */

                           response.fd = metadata->fd;
                           response.response = FAN_ALLOW;
                           write(fd, &response,
                                 sizeof(struct fanotify_response));

                       /* Handle closing of writable file event */

                       if (metadata->mask & FAN_CLOSE_WRITE)
                           printf("FAN_CLOSE_WRITE: ");

                       /* Retrieve and print pathname of the accessed file */

                       snprintf(procfd_path, sizeof(procfd_path),
                                "/proc/self/fd/%d", metadata->fd);
                       path_len = readlink(procfd_path, path,
                                           sizeof(path) - 1);
                       if (path_len == -1) {

                       path[path_len] = ''''\'''0';
                       printf("File %s'''\'''n", path);

                       /* Close the file descriptor of the event */


                   /* Advance to next event */

                   metadata = FAN_EVENT_NEXT(metadata, len);

       main(int argc, char *argv[])
           char buf;
           int fd, poll_num;
           nfds_t nfds;
           struct pollfd fds[2];

           /* Check mount point is supplied */

           if (argc != 2) {
               fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s MOUNT'''\'''n", argv[0]);

           printf("Press enter key to terminate.'''\'''n");

           /* Create the file descriptor for accessing the fanotify API */

           fd = fanotify_init(FAN_CLOEXEC | FAN_CLASS_CONTENT | FAN_NONBLOCK,
                              O_RDONLY | O_LARGEFILE);
           if (fd == -1) {

           /* Mark the mount for:
              - permission events before opening files
              - notification events after closing a write-enabled
                file descriptor */

           if (fanotify_mark(fd, FAN_MARK_ADD | FAN_MARK_MOUNT,
                             FAN_OPEN_PERM | FAN_CLOSE_WRITE, AT_FDCWD,
                             argv[1]) == -1) {

           /* Prepare for polling */

           nfds = 2;

           /* Console input */

           fds[0].fd = STDIN_FILENO;
           fds[0].events = POLLIN;

           /* Fanotify input */

           fds[1].fd = fd;
           fds[1].events = POLLIN;

           /* This is the loop to wait for incoming events */

           printf("Listening for events.'''\'''n");

           while (1) {
               poll_num = poll(fds, nfds, -1);
               if (poll_num == -1) {
                   if (errno == EINTR)     /* Interrupted by a signal */
                       continue;           /* Restart poll() */

                   perror("poll");         /* Unexpected error */

               if (poll_num > 0) {
                   if (fds[0].revents & POLLIN) {

                       /* Console input is available: empty stdin and quit */

                       while (read(STDIN_FILENO, &buf, 1) > 0 && buf != ''''\'''n')

                   if (fds[1].revents & POLLIN) {

                       /* Fanotify events are available */


           printf("Listening for events stopped.'''\'''n");

       fanotify_init(2), fanotify_mark(2), inotify(7)

       This page is part of release 4.04 of the Linux man-pages project.  A description of the
       project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of this page, can be
       found at http://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.

Linux                                       2015-12-28                                FANOTIFY(7)


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