GLOB(P) POSIX Programmer's Manual GLOB(P)
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 IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Section 2.13, Pattern Matching Nota-
tion, with optional support for rule 3 in the Shell and Utilities volume of
IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Section 2.13.3, Patterns Used for Filename Expansion.
The structure type glob_t is defined in <glob.h> and includes at least the following mem-
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() func-
tion 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 per-
mission 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 following special char-
acters: '*' , '?' , 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 Def-
initions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, 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 path-
names, 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 pre-
vious call to glob().
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 following constants, which are defined in
Append pathnames generated to the ones from a previous call to glob().
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.
Cause glob() to return when it encounters a directory that it cannot open or read.
Ordinarily, glob() continues to find matches.
Each pathname that is a directory that matches pattern shall have a slash appended.
Supports rule 3 in the Shell and Utilities volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Section
2.13.3, Patterns Used for Filename Expansion. If pattern does not match any path-
name, then glob() shall return a list consisting of only pattern, and the number of
matched pathnames is 1.
Disable backslash escaping.
Ordinarily, glob() sorts the matching pathnames according to the current setting of
the LC_COLLATE category; see the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001,
Section 7.3.2, LC_COLLATE. When this flag is used, the order of pathnames returned
The GLOB_APPEND flag can be used to append a new set of pathnames to those found in a pre-
vious 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 the following:
a. Zero or more null pointers, as specified by GLOB_DOOFFS and pglob->gl_offs.
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
4. The count returned in pglob->gl_pathc shall be the total number of pathnames from the
5. The application can change any of the fields after a call to glob(). If it does, the
application shall reset them to the original 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(), read-
dir(), or stat(). (Other values may be used to report other errors not explicitly doc-
umented 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
The glob() function shall fail and return the corresponding value if:
The scan was stopped because GLOB_ERR was set or (*errfunc()) returned non-zero.
The pattern does not match any existing pathname, and GLOB_NOCHECK was not set in
An attempt to allocate memory failed.
The following sections are informative.
One use of the GLOB_DOOFFS flag is by applications that build an argument 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
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 use fnmatch().
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. However, 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 expan-
sion when multiple expansions are done on a command line.
Applications that need tilde and parameter expansion should use wordexp().
It was claimed that the GLOB_DOOFFS flag is unnecessary because it could be simulated
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 sepa-
rately created using malloc(). This is not necessarily the case. An application should
make no assumptions about how the memory 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 allocator. 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() , fnmatch() , opendir() , readdir() , stat() , wordexp() , the Base Definitions
volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, <glob.h>, the Shell and Utilities volume of
IEEE Std 1003.1-2001
Portions of this text are reprinted and reproduced in electronic form from IEEE Std
1003.1, 2003 Edition, Standard for Information Technology -- Portable Operating System
Interface (POSIX), The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 6, Copyright (C) 2001-2003 by
the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc and The Open Group. 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 orig-
inal Standard can be obtained online at http://www.opengroup.org/unix/online.html .
IEEE/The Open Group 2003 GLOB(P)