DEBUGFS(8) System Manager's Manual DEBUGFS(8)
debugfs - ext2/ext3/ext4 file system debugger
debugfs [ -DVwcin ] [ -b blocksize ] [ -s superblock ] [ -f cmd_file ] [ -R request ] [ -d data_source_device ] [ -z undo_file ] [ device ]
The debugfs program is an interactive file system debugger. It can be used to examine and change the state of an ext2, ext3, or ext4 file
device is a block device (e.g., /dev/sdXX) or a file containing the file system.
-w Specifies that the file system should be opened in read-write mode. Without this option, the file system is opened in read-only
-n Disables metadata checksum verification. This should only be used if you believe the metadata to be correct despite the complaints
-c Specifies that the file system should be opened in catastrophic mode, in which the inode and group bitmaps are not read initially.
This can be useful for filesystems with significant corruption, but because of this, catastrophic mode forces the filesystem to be
-i Specifies that device represents an ext2 image file created by the e2image program. Since the ext2 image file only contains the
superblock, block group descriptor, block and inode allocation bitmaps, and the inode table, many debugfs commands will not function
properly. Warning: no safety checks are in place, and debugfs may fail in interesting ways if commands such as ls, dump, etc. are
tried without specifying the data_source_device using the -d option. debugfs is a debugging tool. It has rough edges!
Used with the -i option, specifies that data_source_device should be used when reading blocks not found in the ext2 image file.
This includes data, directory, and indirect blocks.
Forces the use of the given block size (in bytes) for the file system, rather than detecting the correct block size automatically.
(This option is rarely needed; it is used primarily when the file system is extremely badly damaged/corrupted.)
Causes the file system superblock to be read from the given block number, instead of using the primary superblock (located at an
offset of 1024 bytes from the beginning of the filesystem). If you specify the -s option, you must also provide the blocksize of
the filesystem via the -b option. (This option is rarely needed; it is used primarily when the file system is extremely badly dam-
Causes debugfs to read in commands from cmd_file, and execute them. When debugfs is finished executing those commands, it will
-D Causes debugfs to open the device using Direct I/O, bypassing the buffer cache. Note that some Linux devices, notably device mapper
as of this writing, do not support Direct I/O.
Causes debugfs to execute the single command request, and then exit.
-V print the version number of debugfs and exit.
Before overwriting a file system block, write the old contents of the block to an undo file. This undo file can be used with
e2undo(8) to restore the old contents of the file system should something go wrong. If the empty string is passed as the undo_file
argument, the undo file will be written to a file named debugfs-device.e2undo in the directory specified via the E2FSPROGS_UNDO_DIR
WARNING: The undo file cannot be used to recover from a power or system crash.
Many debugfs commands take a filespec as an argument to specify an inode (as opposed to a pathname) in the filesystem which is currently
opened by debugfs. The filespec argument may be specified in two forms. The first form is an inode number surrounded by angle brackets,
e.g., <2>. The second form is a pathname; if the pathname is prefixed by a forward slash ('/'), then it is interpreted relative to the
root of the filesystem which is currently opened by debugfs. If not, the pathname is interpreted relative to the current working directory
as maintained by debugfs. This may be modified by using the debugfs command cd.
This is a list of the commands which debugfs supports.
Print the blocks used by the inode filespec to stdout.
bmap [ -a ] filespec logical_block [physical_block]
Print or set the physical block number corresponding to the logical block number logical_block in the inode filespec. If the -a
flag is specified, try to allocate a block if necessary.
block_dump [-f filespec] block_num
Dump the filesystem block given by block_num in hex and ASCII format to the console. If the -f option is specified, the block num-
ber is relative to the start of the given filespec.
Dump the contents of the inode filespec to stdout.
Change the current working directory to filespec.
Change the root directory to be the directory filespec.
Close the currently open file system. If the -a option is specified, write out any changes to the superblock and block group
descriptors to all of the backup superblocks, not just to the master superblock.
Clear the contents of the inode filespec.
copy_inode source_inode destination_inode
Copy the contents of the inode structure in source_inode and use it to overwrite the inode structure at destination_inode.
dirsearch filespec filename
Search the directory filespec for filename.
Mark the filesystem as dirty, so that the superblocks will be written on exit. Additionally, clear the superblock's valid flag, or
set it if -clean is specified.
dump [-p] filespec out_file
Dump the contents of the inode filespec to the output file out_file. If the -p option is given set the owner, group and permissions
information on out_file to match filespec.
Display the multiple-mount protection (mmp) field values. If mmp_block is specified then verify and dump the MMP values from the
given block number, otherwise use the s_mmp_block field in the superblock to locate and use the existing MMP block.
dx_hash [-h hash_alg] [-s hash_seed] filename
Calculate the directory hash of filename. The hash algorithm specified with -h may be legacy, half_md4, or tea. The hash seed
specified with -s must be in UUID format.
dump_extents [-n] [-l] filespec
Dump the the extent tree of the inode filespec. The -n flag will cause dump_extents to only display the interior nodes in the
extent tree. The -l flag will cause dump_extents to only display the leaf nodes in the extent tree.
(Please note that the length and range of blocks for the last extent in an interior node is an estimate by the extents library func-
tions, and is not stored in filesystem data structures. Hence, the values displayed may not necessarily by accurate and does not
indicate a problem or corruption in the file system.)
Dump unused blocks which contain non-null bytes.
ea_get [-f outfile]|[-xVC] [-r] filespec attr_name
Retrieve the value of the extended attribute attr_name in the file filespec and write it either to stdout or to outfile.
List the extended attributes associated with the file filespec to standard output.
ea_set [-f infile] [-r] filespec attr_name attr_value
Set the value of the extended attribute attr_name in the file filespec to the string value attr_value or read it from infile.
ea_rm filespec attr_names...
Remove the extended attribute attr_name from the file filespec.
Expand the directory filespec.
fallocate filespec start_block [end_block]
Allocate and map uninitialized blocks into filespec between logical block start_block and end_block, inclusive. If end_block is not
supplied, this function maps until it runs out of free disk blocks or the maximum file size is reached. Existing mappings are left
feature [fs_feature] [-fs_feature] ...
Set or clear various filesystem features in the superblock. After setting or clearing any filesystem features that were requested,
print the current state of the filesystem feature set.
filefrag [-dvr] filespec
Print the number of contiguous extents in filespec. If filespec is a directory and the -d option is not specified, filefrag will
print the number of contiguous extents for each file in the directory. The -v option will cause filefrag print a tabular listing of
the contiguous extents in the file. The -r option will cause filefrag to do a recursive listing of the directory.
find_free_block [count [goal]]
Find the first count free blocks, starting from goal and allocate it. Also available as ffb.
find_free_inode [dir [mode]]
Find a free inode and allocate it. If present, dir specifies the inode number of the directory which the inode is to be located.
The second optional argument mode specifies the permissions of the new inode. (If the directory bit is set on the mode, the alloca-
tion routine will function differently.) Also available as ffi.
freeb block [count]
Mark the block number block as not allocated. If the optional argument count is present, then count blocks starting at block number
block will be marked as not allocated.
freefrag [-c chunk_kb]
Report free space fragmentation on the currently open file system. If the -c option is specified then the filefrag command will
print how many free chunks of size chunk_kb can be found in the file system. The chunk size must be a power of two and be larger
than the file system block size.
freei filespec [num]
Free the inode specified by filespec. If num is specified, also clear num-1 inodes after the specified inode.
get_quota quota_type id
Display quota information for given quota type (user, group, or project) and ID.
help Print a list of commands understood by debugfs.
Dump the hash-indexed directory filespec, showing its tree structure.
icheck block ...
Print a listing of the inodes which use the one or more blocks specified on the command line.
Print the contents of the inode data structure in hex and ASCII format.
Print the location of the inode data structure (in the inode table) of the inode filespec.
init_filesys device blocksize
Create an ext2 file system on device with device size blocksize. Note that this does not fully initialize all of the data struc-
tures; to do this, use the mke2fs(8) program. This is just a call to the low-level library, which sets up the superblock and block
Close the open journal.
journal_open [-c] [-v ver] [-f ext_jnl]
Opens the journal for reading and writing. Journal checksumming can be enabled by supplying -c; checksum formats 2 and 3 can be
selected with the -v option. An external journal can be loaded from ext_jnl.
Replay all transactions in the open journal.
journal_write [-b blocks] [-r revoke] [-c] file
Write a transaction to the open journal. The list of blocks to write should be supplied as a comma-separated list in blocks; the
blocks themselves should be readable from file. A list of blocks to revoke can be supplied as a comma-separated list in revoke. By
default, a commit record is written at the end; the -c switch writes an uncommitted transaction.
Deallocate the inode filespec and its blocks. Note that this does not remove any directory entries (if any) to this inode. See the
rm(1) command if you wish to unlink a file.
Change the current working directory of the debugfs process to directory on the native filesystem.
Display quota information for given quota type (user, group, or project).
ln filespec dest_file
Create a link named dest_file which is a hard link to filespec. Note this does not adjust the inode reference counts.
logdump [-acsOS] [-b block] [-i filespec] [-f journal_file] [output_file]
Dump the contents of the ext3 journal. By default, dump the journal inode as specified in the superblock. However, this can be
overridden with the -i option, which dumps the journal from the internal inode given by filespec. A regular file containing journal
data can be specified using the -f option. Finally, the -s option utilizes the backup information in the superblock to locate the
The -S option causes logdump to print the contents of the journal superblock.
The -a option causes the logdump program to print the contents of all of the descriptor blocks. The -b option causes logdump to
print all journal records that refer to the specified block. The -c option will print out the contents of all of the data blocks
selected by the -a and -b options.
The -O option causes logdump to display old (checkpointed) journal entries. This can be used to try to track down journal problems
even after the journal has been replayed.
ls [-l] [-c] [-d] [-p] [-r] filespec
Print a listing of the files in the directory filespec. The -c flag causes directory block checksums (if present) to be displayed.
The -d flag will list deleted entries in the directory. The -l flag will list files using a more verbose format. The -p flag will
list the files in a format which is more easily parsable by scripts, as well as making it more clear when there are spaces or other
non-printing characters at the end of filenames. The -r flag will force the printing of the filename, even if it is encrypted.
List deleted inodes, optionally limited to those deleted within limit seconds ago. Also available as lsdel.
This command was useful for recovering from accidental file deletions for ext2 file systems. Unfortunately, it is not useful for
this purpose if the files were deleted using ext3 or ext4, since the inode's data blocks are no longer available after the inode is
Modify the contents of the inode structure in the inode filespec. Also available as mi.
Make a directory.
mknod filespec [p|[[c|b] major minor]]
Create a special device file (a named pipe, character or block device). If a character or block device is to be made, the major and
minor device numbers must be specified.
ncheck [-c] inode_num ...
Take the requested list of inode numbers, and print a listing of pathnames to those inodes. The -c flag will enable checking the
file type information in the directory entry to make sure it matches the inode's type.
open [-weficD] [-b blocksize] [-d image_filename] [-s superblock] [-z undo_file] device
Open a filesystem for editing. The -f flag forces the filesystem to be opened even if there are some unknown or incompatible
filesystem features which would normally prevent the filesystem from being opened. The -e flag causes the filesystem to be opened
in exclusive mode. The -b, -c, -d, -i, -s, -w, and -D options behave the same as the command-line options to debugfs.
punch filespec start_blk [end_blk]
Delete the blocks in the inode ranging from start_blk to end_blk. If end_blk is omitted then this command will function as a trun-
cate command; that is, all of the blocks starting at start_blk through to the end of the file will be deallocated.
symlink filespec target
Make a symbolic link.
pwd Print the current working directory.
quit Quit debugfs
rdump directory[...] destination
Recursively dump directory, or multiple directories, and all its contents (including regular files, symbolic links, and other direc-
tories) into the named destination, which should be an existing directory on the native filesystem.
Unlink pathname. If this causes the inode pointed to by pathname to have no other references, deallocate the file. This command
functions as the unlink() system call.
Remove the directory filespec.
setb block [count]
Mark the block number block as allocated. If the optional argument count is present, then count blocks starting at block number
block will be marked as allocated.
set_block_group bgnum field value
Modify the block group descriptor specified by bgnum so that the block group descriptor field field has value value. Also available
Set current time in seconds since Unix epoch to use when setting filesystem fields.
seti filespec [num]
Mark inode filespec as in use in the inode bitmap. If num is specified, also set num-1 inodes after the specified inode.
set_inode_field filespec field value
Modify the inode specified by filespec so that the inode field field has value value. The list of valid inode fields which can be
set via this command can be displayed by using the command: set_inode_field -l Also available as sif.
set_mmp_value field value
Modify the multiple-mount protection (MMP) data so that the MMP field field has value value. The list of valid MMP fields which can
be set via this command can be displayed by using the command: set_mmp_value -l Also available as smmp.
set_super_value field value
Set the superblock field field to value. The list of valid superblock fields which can be set via this command can be displayed by
using the command: set_super_value -l Also available as ssv.
Display debugfs parameters such as information about currently opened filesystem.
List the contents of the super block and the block group descriptors. If the -h flag is given, only print out the superblock con-
tents. Also available as stats.
Display the contents of the inode structure of the inode filespec.
Display filesystem features supported by this version of debugfs.
testb block [count]
Test if the block number block is marked as allocated in the block bitmap. If the optional argument count is present, then count
blocks starting at block number block will be tested.
Test if the inode filespec is marked as allocated in the inode bitmap.
undel <inode_number> [pathname]
Undelete the specified inode number (which must be surrounded by angle brackets) so that it and its blocks are marked in use, and
optionally link the recovered inode to the specified pathname. The e2fsck command should always be run after using the undel com-
mand to recover deleted files.
Note that if you are recovering a large number of deleted files, linking the inode to a directory may require the directory to be
expanded, which could allocate a block that had been used by one of the yet-to-be-undeleted files. So it is safer to undelete all
of the inodes without specifying a destination pathname, and then in a separate pass, use the debugfs link command to link the inode
to the destination pathname, or use e2fsck to check the filesystem and link all of the recovered inodes to the lost+found directory.
Remove the link specified by pathname to an inode. Note this does not adjust the inode reference counts.
write source_file out_file
Copy the contents of source_file into a newly-created file in the filesystem named out_file.
zap_block [-f filespec] [-o offset] [-l length] [-p pattern] block_num
Overwrite the block specified by block_num with zero (NUL) bytes, or if -p is given use the byte specified by pattern. If -f is
given then block_num is relative to the start of the file given by filespec. The -o and -l options limit the range of bytes to zap
to the specified offset and length relative to the start of the block.
zap_block [-f filespec] [-b bit] block_num
Bit-flip portions of the physical block_num. If -f is given, then block_num is a logical block relative to the start of filespec.
The debugfs program always pipes the output of the some commands through a pager program. These commands include: show_super_stats
(stats), list_directory (ls), show_inode_info (stat), list_deleted_inodes (lsdel), and htree_dump. The specific pager can explic-
itly specified by the DEBUGFS_PAGER environment variable, and if it is not set, by the PAGER environment variable.
Note that since a pager is always used, the less(1) pager is not particularly appropriate, since it clears the screen before dis-
playing the output of the command and clears the output the screen when the pager is exited. Many users prefer to use the less(1)
pager for most purposes, which is why the DEBUGFS_PAGER environment variable is available to override the more general PAGER envi-
debugfs was written by Theodore Ts'o <email@example.com>.
dumpe2fs(8), tune2fs(8), e2fsck(8), mke2fs(8), ext4(5)
E2fsprogs version 1.44.1 March 2018 DEBUGFS(8)