GLOB(3P) POSIX Programmer's Manual GLOB(3P)PROLOG
This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux
implementation of this interface may differ (consult the corresponding
Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may
not be implemented on Linux.
glob, globfree — generate pathnames matching a pattern
int glob(const char *restrict pattern, int flags,
int(*errfunc)(const char *epath, int eerrno),
glob_t *restrict pglob);
void globfree(glob_t *pglob);
The glob() function is a pathname generator that shall implement the
rules defined in the Shell and Utilities volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Sec‐
tion 2.13, Pattern Matching Notation, with optional support for rule 3
in the Shell and Utilities volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 2.13.3, Pat‐
terns Used for Filename Expansion.
The structure type glob_t is defined in <glob.h> and includes at least
the following members:
│Member Type │ Member Name │ Description │
│size_t │gl_pathc │ Count of paths matched by pattern. │
│char ** │gl_pathv │ Pointer to a list of matched pathnames. │
│size_t │gl_offs │ Slots to reserve at the beginning of │
│ │ │ gl_pathv. │
The argument pattern is a pointer to a pathname pattern to be expanded.
The glob() function shall match all accessible pathnames against this
pattern and develop a list of all pathnames that match. In order to
have access to a pathname, glob() requires search permission on every
component of a path except the last, and read permission on each direc‐
tory of any filename component of pattern that contains any of the fol‐
lowing special characters: '*', '?', and '['.
The glob() function shall store the number of matched pathnames into
pglob->gl_pathc and a pointer to a list of pointers to pathnames into
pglob->gl_pathv. The pathnames shall be in sort order as defined by the
current setting of the LC_COLLATE category; see the Base Definitions
volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 7.3.2, LC_COLLATE. The first pointer
after the last pathname shall be a null pointer. If the pattern does
not match any pathnames, the returned number of matched paths is set to
0, and the contents of pglob->gl_pathv are implementation-defined.
It is the caller's responsibility to create the structure pointed to by
pglob. The glob() function shall allocate other space as needed,
including the memory pointed to by gl_pathv. The globfree() function
shall free any space associated with pglob from a previous call to
The flags argument is used to control the behavior of glob(). The
value of flags is a bitwise-inclusive OR of zero or more of the follow‐
ing constants, which are defined in <glob.h>:
GLOB_APPEND Append pathnames generated to the ones from a previous
call to glob().
GLOB_DOOFFS Make use of pglob->gl_offs. If this flag is set,
pglob->gl_offs is used to specify how many null pointers
to add to the beginning of pglob->gl_pathv. In other
words, pglob->gl_pathv shall point to pglob->gl_offs null
pointers, followed by pglob->gl_pathc pathname pointers,
followed by a null pointer.
GLOB_ERR Cause glob() to return when it encounters a directory
that it cannot open or read. Ordinarily, glob() contin‐
ues to find matches.
GLOB_MARK Each pathname that is a directory that matches pattern
shall have a <slash> appended.
GLOB_NOCHECK Supports rule 3 in the Shell and Utilities volume of
POSIX.1‐2008, Section 2.13.3, Patterns Used for Filename
Expansion. If pattern does not match any pathname, then
glob() shall return a list consisting of only pattern,
and the number of matched pathnames is 1.
GLOB_NOESCAPE Disable backslash escaping.
GLOB_NOSORT Ordinarily, glob() sorts the matching pathnames according
to the current setting of the LC_COLLATE category; see
the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section
7.3.2, LC_COLLATE. When this flag is used, the order of
pathnames returned is unspecified.
The GLOB_APPEND flag can be used to append a new set of pathnames to
those found in a previous call to glob(). The following rules apply to
applications when two or more calls to glob() are made with the same
value of pglob and without intervening calls to globfree():
1. The first such call shall not set GLOB_APPEND. All subsequent calls
shall set it.
2. All the calls shall set GLOB_DOOFFS, or all shall not set it.
3. After the second call, pglob->gl_pathv points to a list containing
a. Zero or more null pointers, as specified by GLOB_DOOFFS and
b. Pointers to the pathnames that were in the pglob->gl_pathv list
before the call, in the same order as before.
c. Pointers to the new pathnames generated by the second call, in
the specified order.
4. The count returned in pglob->gl_pathc shall be the total number of
pathnames from the two calls.
5. The application can change any of the fields after a call to
glob(). If it does, the application shall reset them to the origi‐
nal value before a subsequent call, using the same pglob value, to
globfree() or glob() with the GLOB_APPEND flag.
If, during the search, a directory is encountered that cannot be opened
or read and errfunc is not a null pointer, glob() calls (()*errfunc )
with two arguments:
1. The epath argument is a pointer to the path that failed.
2. The eerrno argument is the value of errno from the failure, as set
by opendir(), readdir(), or stat(). (Other values may be used to
report other errors not explicitly documented for those functions.)
If (()*errfunc ) is called and returns non-zero, or if the GLOB_ERR
flag is set in flags, glob() shall stop the scan and return
GLOB_ABORTED after setting gl_pathc and gl_pathv in pglob to reflect
the paths already scanned. If GLOB_ERR is not set and either errfunc is
a null pointer or (()*errfunc ) returns 0, the error shall be ignored.
The glob() function shall not fail because of large files.
Upon successful completion, glob() shall return 0. The argument
pglob->gl_pathc shall return the number of matched pathnames and the
argument pglob->gl_pathv shall contain a pointer to a null-terminated
list of matched and sorted pathnames. However, if pglob->gl_pathc is 0,
the content of pglob->gl_pathv is undefined.
The globfree() function shall not return a value.
If glob() terminates due to an error, it shall return one of the non-
zero constants defined in <glob.h>. The arguments pglob->gl_pathc and
pglob->gl_pathv are still set as defined above.
The glob() function shall fail and return the corresponding value if:
GLOB_ABORTED The scan was stopped because GLOB_ERR was set or
(()*errfunc ) returned non-zero.
GLOB_NOMATCH The pattern does not match any existing pathname, and
GLOB_NOCHECK was not set in flags.
GLOB_NOSPACE An attempt to allocate memory failed.
The following sections are informative.
One use of the GLOB_DOOFFS flag is by applications that build an argu‐
ment list for use with execv(), execve(), or execvp(). Suppose, for
example, that an application wants to do the equivalent of:
ls -l *.c
but for some reason:
system("ls -l *.c")
is not acceptable. The application could obtain approximately the same
result using the sequence:
globbuf.gl_offs = 2;
glob("*.c", GLOB_DOOFFS, NULL, &globbuf);
globbuf.gl_pathv = "ls";
globbuf.gl_pathv = "-l";
Using the same example:
ls -l *.c *.h
could be approximately simulated using GLOB_APPEND as follows:
globbuf.gl_offs = 2;
glob("*.c", GLOB_DOOFFS, NULL, &globbuf);
glob("*.h", GLOB_DOOFFS|GLOB_APPEND, NULL, &globbuf);
This function is not provided for the purpose of enabling utilities to
perform pathname expansion on their arguments, as this operation is
performed by the shell, and utilities are explicitly not expected to
redo this. Instead, it is provided for applications that need to do
pathname expansion on strings obtained from other sources, such as a
pattern typed by a user or read from a file.
If a utility needs to see if a pathname matches a given pattern, it can
Note that gl_pathc and gl_pathv have meaning even if glob() fails. This
allows glob() to report partial results in the event of an error. How‐
ever, if gl_pathc is 0, gl_pathv is unspecified even if glob() did not
return an error.
The GLOB_NOCHECK option could be used when an application wants to
expand a pathname if wildcards are specified, but wants to treat the
pattern as just a string otherwise. The sh utility might use this for
option-arguments, for example.
The new pathnames generated by a subsequent call with GLOB_APPEND are
not sorted together with the previous pathnames. This mirrors the way
that the shell handles pathname expansion when multiple expansions are
done on a command line.
Applications that need tilde and parameter expansion should use word‐
It was claimed that the GLOB_DOOFFS flag is unnecessary because it
could be simulated using:
new = (char **)malloc((n + pglob->gl_pathc + 1)
* sizeof(char *));
(void) memcpy(new+n, pglob->gl_pathv,
pglob->gl_pathc * sizeof(char *));
(void) memset(new, 0, n * sizeof(char *));
pglob->gl_pathv = new;
However, this assumes that the memory pointed to by gl_pathv is a block
that was separately created using malloc(). This is not necessarily
the case. An application should make no assumptions about how the mem‐
ory referenced by fields in pglob was allocated. It might have been
obtained from malloc() in a large chunk and then carved up within
glob(), or it might have been created using a different memory alloca‐
tor. It is not the intent of the standard developers to specify or
imply how the memory used by glob() is managed.
The GLOB_APPEND flag would be used when an application wants to expand
several different patterns into a single list.
exec, fdopendir(), fnmatch(), fstatat(), readdir(), Section 2.6, Word
The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 7.3.2, LC_COLLATE,
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form
from IEEE Std 1003.1, 2013 Edition, Standard for Information Technology
-- Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base
Specifications Issue 7, Copyright (C) 2013 by the Institute of Electri‐
cal and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. (This is
POSIX.1-2008 with the 2013 Technical Corrigendum 1 applied.) In the
event of any discrepancy between this version and the original IEEE and
The Open Group Standard, the original IEEE and The Open Group Standard
is the referee document. The original Standard can be obtained online
at http://www.unix.org/online.html .
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IEEE/The Open Group 2013 GLOB(3P)