scandir, scandirat, alphasort, versionsort — scan a directory for matching entries


        #include <dirent.h>
int scandir( const char *dirp,
  struct dirent ***namelist,
  int (*filter)(const struct dirent *),
  int (*compar)(const struct dirent **, const struct dirent **));
int alphasort( const struct dirent **a,
  const struct dirent **b);
int versionsort( const struct dirent **a,
  const struct dirent **b);

#include <fcntl.h>           /* Definition of AT_* constants */
#include <dirent.h>
int scandirat( int dirfd,
  const char *dirp,
  struct dirent ***namelist,
  int (*filter)(const struct dirent *),
  int (*compar)(const struct dirent **, const struct dirent **));
[Note] Note
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
scandir(), alphasort():
/* Since glibc 2.10:
*/ _POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200809L || /* Glibc versions <= 2.19:


The scandir() function scans the directory dirp, calling filter() on each directory entry. Entries for which filter() returns nonzero are stored in strings allocated via malloc(3), sorted using qsort(3) with the comparison function compar(), and collected in array namelist which is allocated via malloc(3). If filter is NULL, all entries are selected.

The alphasort() and versionsort() functions can be used as the comparison function compar(). The former sorts directory entries using strcoll(3), the latter using strverscmp(3) on the strings (*a)−>d_name and (*b)−>d_name.


The scandirat() function operates in exactly the same way as scandir(), except for the differences described here.

If the pathname given in dirp is relative, then it is interpreted relative to the directory referred to by the file descriptor dirfd (rather than relative to the current working directory of the calling process, as is done by scandir() for a relative pathname).

If dirp is relative and dirfd is the special value AT_FDCWD, then dirp is interpreted relative to the current working directory of the calling process (like scandir()).

If dirp is absolute, then dirfd is ignored.

See openat(2) for an explanation of the need for scandirat().


The scandir() function returns the number of directory entries selected. On error, −1 is returned, with errno set to indicate the cause of the error.

The alphasort() and versionsort() functions return an integer less than, equal to, or greater than zero if the first argument is considered to be respectively less than, equal to, or greater than the second.



The path in dirp does not exist.


Insufficient memory to complete the operation.


The path in dirp is not a directory.

The following additional errors can occur for scandirat():


dirfd is not a valid file descriptor.


dirp is a relative path and dirfd is a file descriptor referring to a file other than a directory.


versionsort() was added to glibc in version 2.1.

scandirat() was added to glibc in version 2.15.


For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see attributes(7).

Interface Attribute Value
scandir(), scandirat() Thread safety MT-Safe
alphasort(), versionsort() Thread safety MT-Safe locale


alphasort(), scandir(): 4.3BSD, POSIX.1-2008.

versionsort() and scandirat() are GNU extensions.


Since glibc 2.1, alphasort() calls strcoll(3); earlier it used strcmp(3).

Before glibc 2.10, the two arguments of alphasort() and versionsort() were typed as const void *. When alphasort() was standardized in POSIX.1-2008, the argument type was specified as the type-safe const struct dirent **, and glibc 2.10 changed the definition of alphasort() (and the nonstandard versionsort()) to match the standard.


/* print files in current directory in reverse order */
#include <dirent.h>

    struct dirent **namelist;
    int n;

    n = scandir(".", &namelist, NULL, alphasort);
    if (n < 0)
    else {
        while (n−−) {
            printf("%s\n", namelist[n]−>d_name);


closedir(3), fnmatch(3), opendir(3), readdir(3), rewinddir(3), seekdir(3), strcmp(3), strcoll(3), strverscmp(3), telldir(3)


This page is part of release 4.07 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−pages/.

  Copyright (C) 1993 David Metcalfe (

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this
manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the
entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a
permission notice identical to this one.

Since the Linux kernel and libraries are constantly changing, this
manual page may be incorrect or out-of-date.  The author(s) assume no
responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from
the use of the information contained herein.  The author(s) may not
have taken the same level of care in the production of this manual,
which is licensed free of charge, as they might when working

Formatted or processed versions of this manual, if unaccompanied by
the source, must acknowledge the copyright and authors of this work.

References consulted:
    Linux libc source code
    Lewine's _POSIX Programmer's Guide_ (O'Reilly & Associates, 1991)
    386BSD man pages
Modified Sat Jul 24 18:26:16 1993 by Rik Faith (
Modified Thu Apr 11 17:11:33 1996 by Andries Brouwer (
    Corrected type of compar routines, as suggested by
    Miguel Barreiro (  Added example.
Modified Sun Sep 24 20:15:46 2000 by aeb, following Petter Reinholdtsen.
Modified 2001-12-26 by aeb, following Joey. Added versionsort.

The pieces on scandirat(3) were copyright and licensed as follows.

Copyright (c) 2012, Mark R. Bannister <>
       based on text in mkfifoat.3 Copyright (c) 2006, Michael Kerrisk

This is free documentation; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as
published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of
the License, or (at your option) any later version.

The GNU General Public License's references to "object code"
and "executables" are to be interpreted as the output of any
document formatting or typesetting system, including
intermediate and printed output.

This manual is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public
License along with this manual; if not, see