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       file [ -bcikLnNsvz ] [ -f namefile ] [ -F separator ] [ -m
       magicfiles ] file ...
       file -C [ -m magicfile ]


       This manual page documents version 4.03 of the  file  com­

       File  tests  each  argument  in an attempt to classify it.
       There are three sets of tests, performed  in  this  order:
       filesystem  tests, magic number tests, and language tests.
       The first test that succeeds causes the file  type  to  be

       The  type  printed  will  usually contain one of the words
       text (the file contains only printing characters and a few
       common  control characters and is probably safe to read on
       an ASCII terminal),  executable  (the  file  contains  the
       result  of compiling a program in a form understandable to
       some UNIX kernel or another),  or  data  meaning  anything
       else  (data is usually `binary' or non-printable).  Excep­
       tions  are  well-known  file  formats  (core  files,   tar
       archives)  that  are  known  to contain binary data.  When
       modifying the file /usr/share/misc/magic  or  the  program
       itself,  preserve these keywords .  People depend on know­
       ing that all the readable files in a  directory  have  the
       word  ``text''  printed.   Don't  do  as  Berkeley did and
       change ``shell commands text'' to ``shell script''.   Note
       that  the file /usr/share/misc/magic is built mechanically
       from a large number of small  files  in  the  subdirectory
       Magdir in the source distribution of this program.

       The  filesystem  tests  are  based on examining the return
       from a stat(2) system call.  The program checks to see  if
       the  file  is empty, or if it's some sort of special file.
       Any known file types appropriate to  the  system  you  are
       running  on  (sockets,  symbolic  links,  or  named  pipes
       (FIFOs) on those systems that implement them) are intuited
       if   they   are   defined   in   the  system  header  file

       The magic number tests are used to check  for  files  with
       data  in  particular fixed formats.  The canonical example
       of this is a binary executable  (compiled  program)  a.out
       file,  whose  format  is  defined  in a.out.h and possibly
       exec.h in the standard  include  directory.   These  files
       have  a  `magic  number' stored in a particular place near
       the beginning of the file that tells  the  UNIX  operating
       system  that the file is a binary executable, and which of
       several types thereof.  The concept of `magic number'  has
       been  applied  by  extension to data files.  Any file with
       its  character set is reported.  ASCII, ISO-8859-x, UTF-8,
       and  extended-ASCII  files  are  identified  as   ``text''
       because  they will be mostly readable on nearly any termi­
       nal;  UTF-16  and  EBCDIC  are  only  ``character   data''
       because,  while  they  contain  text, it is text that will
       require translation before it can be read.   In  addition,
       file  will  attempt  to determine other characteristics of
       text-type files.  If the lines of a file are terminated by
       CR,  CRLF,  or  NEL, instead of the Unix-standard LF, this
       will be reported.   Files  that  contain  embedded  escape
       sequences or overstriking will also be identified.

       Once file has determined the character set used in a text-
       type file, it will attempt to determine in  what  language
       the file is written.  The language tests look for particu­
       lar strings (cf names.h) that can appear anywhere  in  the
       first  few blocks of a file.  For example, the keyword .br
       indicates that the file is most likely  a  troff(1)  input
       file,  just  as  the keyword struct indicates a C program.
       These tests  are  less  reliable  than  the  previous  two
       groups,  so  they  are  performed last.  The language test
       routines also test for some  miscellany  (such  as  tar(1)

       Any  file that cannot be identified as having been written
       in any of the character sets listed above is  simply  said
       to be ``data''.


       -b, --brief
               Do  not  prepend  filenames to output lines (brief

       -c, --checking-printout
               Cause a checking printout of the  parsed  form  of
               the  magic file.  This is usually used in conjunc­
               tion with -m to debug  a  new  magic  file  before
               installing it.

       -C, --compile
               Write a magic.mgc output file that contains a pre-
               parsed version of file.

       -f, --files-from namefile
               Read the names of the files to  be  examined  from
               namefile  (one per line) before the argument list.
               Either namefile or at least one filename  argument
               must  be  present; to test the standard input, use
               ``-'' as a filename argument.

       -F, --separator separator
               Use the specified string as the separator  between

       -k, --keep-going
               Don't stop at the first match, keep going.

       -L, --dereference
               option causes symlinks  to  be  followed,  as  the
               like-named option in ls(1).  (on systems that sup­
               port symbolic links).

       -m, --magic-file list
               Specify an  alternate  list  of  files  containing
               magic  numbers.   This  can be a single file, or a
               colon-separated list  of  files.   If  a  compiled
               magic  file  is  found  alongside, it will be used

       -n, --no-buffer
               Force stdout to be  flushed  after  checking  each
               file.   This  is only useful if checking a list of
               files.  It is intended to be used by programs that
               want filetype output from a pipe.

       -N, --no-pad
               Don't pad filenames so that they align in the out­

       -s, --special-files
               Normally, file only attempts to read and determine
               the  type  of argument files which stat(2) reports
               are  ordinary  files.   This  prevents   problems,
               because  reading  special  files may have peculiar
               consequences.  Specifying  the  -s  option  causes
               file  to  also read argument files which are block
               or character special files.  This  is  useful  for
               determining  the  filesystem  types of the data in
               raw  disk  partitions,  which  are  block  special
               files.   This option also causes file to disregard
               the file size as reported by stat(2) since on some
               systems it reports a zero size for raw disk parti­

       -v, --version
               Print the version of the program and exit.

       -z, --uncompress
               Try to look inside compressed files.

       --help  Print a help message and exit.


              Default compiled list of magic numbers


       The  environment  variable  MAGIC  can  be used to set the
       default magic number files.


       magic(5) - description of magic file format.
       strings(1), od(1), hexdump(1) - tools for  examining  non-


       This  program is believed to exceed the System V Interface
       Definition of FILE(CMD), as near as one can determine from
       the  vague  language  contained therein.  Its behaviour is
       mostly compatible with the System V program  of  the  same
       name.   This version knows more magic, however, so it will
       produce different (albeit more accurate)  output  in  many

       The  one  significant  difference between this version and
       System V is that this version treats any white space as  a
       delimiter,  so  that  spaces  in  pattern  strings must be
       escaped.  For example,
       >10  string    language impress    (imPRESS data)
       in an existing magic file would have to be changed to
       >10  string    language\ impress   (imPRESS data)
       In addition, in this version, if a pattern string contains
       a backslash, it must be escaped.  For example
       0    string         \begindata     Andrew Toolkit document
       in an existing magic file would have to be changed to
       0    string         \\begindata    Andrew Toolkit document

       SunOS releases 3.2 and later from Sun Microsystems include
       a file(1) command derived from the System V one, but  with
       some  extensions.   My  version differs from Sun's only in
       minor ways.  It includes the extension of the  `&'  opera­
       tor, used as, for example,
       >16  long&0x7fffffff     >0        not stripped


       The  magic  file  entries have been collected from various
       sources,  mainly  USENET,  and  contributed   by   various
       authors.   Christos  Zoulas  (address  below) will collect
       additional or corrected magic file entries.  A  consolida­
       tion  of  magic  file entries will be distributed periodi­

       The order of entries in the  magic  file  is  significant.
       Depending  on  what  system  you are using, the order that
       they are put together may be incorrect.  If your old  file
       command  uses a magic file, keep the old magic file around
       for     comparison     purposes     (rename     it      to
       /dev/hda1:  Linux/i386 ext2 filesystem
       /dev/hda2:  x86 boot sector
       /dev/hda3:  x86 boot sector, extended partition table
       /dev/hda4:  Linux/i386 ext2 filesystem
       /dev/hda5:  Linux/i386 swap file
       /dev/hda6:  Linux/i386 swap file
       /dev/hda7:  Linux/i386 swap file
       /dev/hda8:  Linux/i386 swap file
       /dev/hda9:  empty
       /dev/hda10: empty

       $ file -i file.c file /dev/{wd0a,hda}
       file.c:      text/x-c
       file:        application/x-executable, dynamically linked (uses shared libs),
       not stripped
       /dev/hda:    application/x-not-regular-file
       /dev/wd0a:   application/x-not-regular-file


       There has been a file command in every UNIX since at least
       Research Version 4 (man page dated November,  1973).   The
       System  V version introduced one significant major change:
       the external list of magic number types.  This slowed  the
       program down slightly but made it a lot more flexible.

       This  program,  based on the System V version, was written
       by Ian Darwin <ian@darwinsys.com> without looking at  any­
       body else's source code.

       John  Gilmore revised the code extensively, making it bet­
       ter than the first version.  Geoff Collyer  found  several
       inadequacies  and  provided some magic file entries.  Con­
       tributions by the `&' operator by Rob McMahon,  cudcv@war­
       wick.ac.uk, 1989.

       Guy Harris, guy@netapp.com, made many changes from 1993 to
       the present.

       Primary development and maintenance from 1990 to the  pre­
       sent by Christos Zoulas (christos@astron.com).

       Altered  by Chris Lowth, chris@lowth.com, 2000: Handle the
       ``-i'' option to output mime type  strings  and  using  an
       alternative magic file and internal logic.

       Altered  by  Eric  Fischer (enf@pobox.com), July, 2000, to
       identify character codes and attempt to identify the  lan­
       guages of non-ASCII files.

       The list of contributors to the "Magdir" directory (source
       for the /etc/magic file) is too long to include here.  You
       the  Magic  file from all the glop in magdir.  What is it?
       Better yet, the magic file should be compiled into  binary
       (say,  ndbm(3)  or, better yet, fixed-length ASCII strings
       for use in heterogenous network environments)  for  faster
       startup.   Then  the program would run as fast as the Ver­
       sion 7 program of the same name, with the  flexibility  of
       the System V version.

       File  uses  several algorithms that favor speed over accu­
       racy, thus it can be misled about  the  contents  of  text

       The support for text files (primarily for programming lan­
       guages) is simplistic, inefficient and requires recompila­
       tion to update.

       There  should  be an ``else'' clause to follow a series of
       continuation lines.

       The magic file and keywords should have regular expression
       support.   Their  use of ASCII TAB as a field delimiter is
       ugly  and  makes  it  hard  to  edit  the  files,  but  is

       It  might be advisable to allow upper-case letters in key­
       words for e.g., troff(1)  commands  vs  man  page  macros.
       Regular expression support would make this easy.

       The  program  doesn't  grok FORTRAN.  It should be able to
       figure  FORTRAN  by  seeing  some  keywords  which  appear
       indented at the start of line.  Regular expression support
       would make this easy.

       The list of keywords in ascmagic probably belongs  in  the
       Magic file.  This could be done by using some keyword like
       `*' for the offset value.

       Another optimisation would be to sort the  magic  file  so
       that  we  can  just  run  down all the tests for the first
       byte, first word, first long, etc, once  we  have  fetched
       it.   Complain  about conflicts in the magic file entries.
       Make a rule that the magic entries sort based on file off­
       set rather than position within the magic file?

       The  program  should  provide a way to give an estimate of
       ``how good'' a guess is.  We end up removing guesses (e.g.
       ``From  ''  as first 5 chars of file) because they are not
       as good as  other  guesses  (e.g.  ``Newsgroups:''  versus
       ``Return-Path:'').  Still, if the others don't pan out, it
       should be possible to use the first guess.

       This program is slower than some vendors'  file  commands.

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