File Types In Linux

"How many types of files are there and what are they?" This is a common question to every person who started learing Linux.

Why is this so much important to know file types?
Ans : This is because Linux will consider every thing as files. The Answer to this question is little bit confusing with different answers.

Let me put it in this way to clarify. By default Unix have only 3 types of files..
They are.

1. Regular files
2. Directory files
3. Special files(This is the file type who is the culprit for different answers. This catagory is having 5 sub types.)

So Total file types in Linux are 7. Remeber I am saying in linux there are only 7 types of files but if it comes to unix it is 8 types.

Here are those files. And you can see the file type indication at leftmost part of “ls -l” command
1. Regular file(-)
2. Directory files(d)
Special files
3. Block file(b)
4. Character device file(c)
5. Named pipe file or just a pipe file(p)
6. Symbolic link file(l)
7. Socket file(s)

For your information there is one more file called door files(D) which is present in Sun Solaris. A door is a special file for inter-process communication between a client and server(so total 8 types in Unix machines.).

Regular files : These are the files are indicated with "-" in ls -l output. And these files are.1. Readable files or
2. A binary files or

3. Image files or
4. Compressed files etc.

How to create them?
Ans : Use touch command.

Example listing of regular files :-rw-r--r-- 1 krishna krishna 20986522 2010-01-31 13:48 test.wmv

-rw-r--r-- 1 krishna krishna 173448 2010-01-30 21:20 Transformers-Teaser-Wallpaper-310.jpg

-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root 135168 2009-12-12 19:14 VIDEO_TS.VOB

-rw-r--r-- 1 krishna krishna 2113536 2009-12-01 13:32 Aditya 365 – Janavule.mp3

-rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 168 2010-02-14 14:12

Directory files : These contains the name and location of files/folders/special files stored on a physical device. And this type of files will be in blue in color.

How to create them?
Ans : Use mkdir command

Example listing of directories.drwxr-xr-x 2 surendra surendra 4096 2010-01-19 18:37 bin
drwxr-xr-x 5 surendra surendra 4096 2010-02-15 18:46 Desktop
drwxr-xr-x 2 surendra surendra 4096 2010-01-18 14:36 Documents
drwxr-xr-x 2 surendra surendra 4096 2010-02-13 17:45 Downloads

Block files : These files are hardware files most are present in /dev

How to create them?
Ans : Use fdisk command or create virtual partition.

Example listing of Block files(for you to see these file, they are located in /dev).
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 8, 1 2010-02-15 09:35 sda1
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 8, 2 2010-02-15 09:35 sda2
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 8, 5 2010-02-15 09:35 sda5

Character devices files : Provide only a serial stream of input or output.

Example listing of character files(located in /dev)
crw-rw-rw- 1 root tty 5, 0 2010-02-15 16:52 tty
crw--w---- 1 root root 4, 0 2010-02-15 09:35 tty0
crw------- 1 root root 4, 1 2010-02-15 09:35 tty1

Pipe files : The other sort of pipe is a “named” pipe, which is sometimes called a FIFO. FIFO stands for “First In, First Out” and refers to the property that the order of bytes going in is the same coming out. The “name” of a named pipe is actually a file name within the file system.

How to create them?Ans : Use mkfifo command.
Example listing of pipe files
prw-r----- 1 root root 0 2010-02-15 09:35 /dev/.initramfs/usplash_outfifo
prw-r----- 1 root root 0 2010-02-15 09:35 /dev/.initramfs/usplash_fifo
prw------- 1 syslog syslog 0 2010-02-15 15:38 /var/run/rsyslog/kmsg

Sybolic link files : These are linked files to other files.

How to create them?
Ans : use ln command

Example listing of linked files
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 24 2010-02-15 09:35 sndstat -> /proc/asound/oss/sndstat
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 15 2010-02-15 09:35 stderr -> /proc/self/fd/2
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 15 2010-02-15 09:35 stdin -> /proc/self/fd/0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 15 2010-02-15 09:35 stdout -> /proc/self/fd/1

Socket files : A socket file is used to pass information between applications for communication purpose

How to create them?
Ans : You can create a socket file using socket() system call avialable under

int sockfd = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, 0);
You can refer to this socket file using the sockfd. This is same as the file descriptor, and you can use read(), write() system calls to read and write from the socket.

Example listing of socket files.
srw-rw-rw- 1 root root 0 2010-02-15 09:35 /dev/log
srwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2010-02-15 10:07 /var/run/cups/cups.sock
srwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2010-02-15 09:35 /var/run/samba/winbindd_privileged/pipe
srwxrwxrwx 1 mysql mysql 0 2010-02-15 09:35 /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock

A tip for you guys.
How to find your desired type of a file ?Ans : Use find command with -type option.

For example if you want to find socket file, just use below command.
find / -type sIf you want to find linked file then how?Find / -type l

Thats it.. You got it.. :) Enjoy reading..

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