ATTR(1) XFS Compatibility API ATTR(1)
attr - extended attributes on XFS filesystem objects
attr [ -LRq ] -s attrname [ -V attrvalue ] pathname
attr [ -LRq ] -g attrname pathname
attr [ -LRq ] -r attrname pathname
Extended attributes implement the ability for a user to attach
name:value pairs to objects within the XFS filesystem.
They could be used to store meta-information about the file. For exam-
ple "character-set=kanji" could tell a document browser to use the
Kanji character set when displaying that document and "thumbnail=..."
could provide a reduced resolution overview of a high resolution
This document describes the attr command, which is mostly compatible
with the IRIX command of the same name. It is thus aimed specifically
at users of the XFS filesystem - for filesystem independent extended
attribute manipulation, consult the getfattr(1) and setfattr(1) docu-
In the XFS filesystem, the names can be up to 256 bytes in length, ter-
minated by the first 0 byte. The intent is that they be printable
ASCII (or other character set) names for the attribute. The values can
be up to 64KB of arbitrary binary data.
Attributes can be attached to all types of XFS inodes: regular files,
directories, symbolic links, device nodes, etc.
XFS uses 2 disjoint attribute name spaces associated with every
filesystem object. They are the root and user address spaces. The
root address space is accessable only to the superuser, and then only
by specifying a flag argument to the function call. Other users will
not see or be able to modify attributes in the root address space. The
user address space is protected by the normal file permissions mecha-
nism, so the owner of the file can decide who is able to see and/or
modify the value of attributes on any particular file.
The attr utility allows the manipulation of extended attributes associ-
ated with filesystem objects from within shell scripts.
There are four main operations that attr can perform:
GET The -g attrname option tells attr to search the named object and
print (to stdout) the value associated with that attribute name.
With the -q flag, stdout will be exactly and only the value of
the attribute, suitable for storage directly into a file or pro-
cessing via a piped command.
REMOVE The -r attrname option tells attr to remove an attribute with
the given name from the object if the attribute exists. There
is no output on sucessful completion.
The -s attrname option tells attr to set the named attribute of
the object to the value read from stdin. If an attribute with
that name already exists, its value will be replaced with this
one. If an attribute with that name does not already exist, one
will be created with this value. With the -V attrvalue flag,
the attribute will be set to have a value of attrvalue and stdin
will not be read. With the -q flag, stdout will not be used.
Without the -q flag, a message showing the attribute name and
the entire value will be printed.
When the -L option is given and the named object is a symbolic link,
operate on the attributes of the object referenced by the symbolic
link. Without this option, operate on the attributes of the symbolic
When the -R option is given and the process has appropriate privileges,
operate in the root attribute namespace rather that the USER attribute
When the -q option is given attr will try to keep quiet. It will out-
put error messages (to stderr) but will not print status messages (to
The standard file interchange/archive programs tar(1), and cpio(1) will
not archive or restore extended attributes, while the xfsdump(8) pro-
The list option present in the IRIX version of this command is not sup-
ported. getfattr provides a mechanism to retrieve all of the attribute
getfattr(1), setfattr(1), attr_get(3), attr_set(3), attr_multi(3),
attr_remove(3), attr(5), and xfsdump(8).
Dec 2001 Extended Attributes ATTR(1)